The third time is supposed to be the charm, right?
Maybe in other things, but not so much with languages. At least not so far.
French is the third foreign language I’m trying to learn, after six years of Spanish in high school/college and three years of Russian in college, plus studying it during my career break. I thought that it might be easier this time around, but so far not so much. Learning French has been hard!
I’m taking a class once a week with Multilingual Connections, where I kicked off learning French back in July with a day-long boot camp. It’s on Thursday nights for about two hours and really, it’s pretty great. There’s just six of us in the class (give or take a couple, there seems to be someone new and someone missing each week) and our instructor, Allison, is upbeat and makes things quite fun. We spend time on grammar and new vocabulary each week and Allison usually works in some sort of fun interactive activity that drives home some of the new points we’re working on.
She also does a spelling exercise where she says a sentence and asks us to write down what we think she said in French. I am pretty horrible at this. As she speaks, the words all run together and I can’t tell where one word ends and the next begins. I suppose that’s part of what makes French pretty beautiful once you get to know it, but for someone just starting out, it’s frustrating as heck! Whereas with Spanish and Russian, I can hear a word and generally know how to spell it, I hear something in French and have almost no clue. Yet somehow, I usually understand at least the gist of what Allison is saying even if I can’t make out the individual words.
On the flip side, my pronunciation is horrible. If I had anything to complain about with the classes it would be that we don’t spend more time on pronunciation. I’m immediately inclined to pronounce words as they are said in Spanish, which is usually wrong. And then I seem to always guess wrong – I guess that consonants are silent when they actually aren’t and vice versa. It can be frustrating and it’s the opposite of my experience with Russian and Spanish.
I have to admit that it also hasn’t helped that I have been insanely busy the last few weeks since I have started class – as a result, I haven’t spent nearly as much time outside of class practicing my French as I should. And you really can’t learn a language unless you are practicing a lot. Having class at 8:00 p.m. at the end of the work week is tough too as I am usually exhausted by the time I get there!
I’m missing class next week while I’m in Bulgaria and then will just have three more classes left in this session. I hope I’ll have time to study more the next few weeks and make more progress than I have so far. I’ve asked Allison about other resources to work on listening and pronunciation, so I want to try some of those as well. Despite the difficulties, it has been a good class and I can definitely recommend Multilingual to anyone so far.
Stay tuned for another update in a few weeks…
Photos courtesy of Multilingual Connections; my French Beginner II class has been provided by Multilingual on a complimentary basis, but my opinions are always my own.
Sign up for a class of your own this summer/fall using the code KATIE19 and get $19 off the price of tuition!