Questions: Foreign Language

Let’s try to start this up again! This is a series where I ask a question, and you (and I) have to answer it.

Have you studied a foreign language? Did you reach fluency, or near fluency? Would you like to continue to study that language, or a different one?

I’ll start:

As soon as I could speak, practically, I wanted to learn French. My mom taught me short words and phrases, and I begged to take French as soon as possible. I was finally allowed to when I started seventh grade. I took four years of French through middle school and high school. Though I was never immersed in an entirely French-speaking environment outside of class, I felt that I did reach near-fluency. I could say anything I wanted to; I would translate thoughts and things my teachers said, and I was able to keep up a conversation with native French speakers who I met.

I was planning to continue studying, but our church was pursuing a long-term relationship with a missionary in the Dominican Republic, and I loved going on those mission trips. To help my ministry, I decided to switch over to Spanish for the final two years of high school. Learning Spanish was super easy, but I never learned the type of grammar that would allow me to communicate all the things I wanted to say. Being able to choose a language again after high school, I enrolled in French again – I took several courses, going back to the basics, as well as a French for Business class that would have been useful had I ever needed it! Oh yeah, I also took a Greek and a Latin class in there too! I love languages!

Lo and behold, my senior year I found myself drawn to a year-long mission assignment in Venezuela. I dropped my French hat again and put on the Spanish one. My dad gave me his copy of Rosetta Stone, which I used for a little while but ended up hating (it’s SOOOO repetitive! the exercises are exactly the same for every. single. lesson.), but I opted out of tutoring lessons because I already had Rosetta Stone, even though I wasn’t using it. Not great logic. Enough time passed that I realized I could get by without taking formal language lessons, so I mostly relied on my teammates and Venezuelans who spoke English. Part of the reason I didn’t want to stick with learning the language was that deep down I longed to be learning French instead. At the time, I was able to understand a lot of spoken and written Spanish, but I couldn’t speak very much because I rarely practiced (I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how to pronounce the words!).

Fast forward to this semester, and I am taking French again! I am declaring it my primary secondary language, once and for all. I love everything about it, from the romantic pronunciation to the way the letters all loop together when I write them down. I went back to the second part of the beginner course, which has been perfect. It’s familiar enough that I remember vocab and grammar when I see them, but distant enough that I still feel like I’m learning. I’m excited to continue with another year of the language in the fall!

Whew, sorry that turned out longer than I expected – don’t feel like you have to write a novel! But I would love to know, what languages have you studied, or would you like to learn??

[Photo by SC Stockshop]

9 thoughts on “Questions: Foreign Language

  1. declutteringmylifeweb says:

    I have advanced exam in English French and Dutch but only English is active at the moment. I think that learning languages trains your brain, shows your openness and hard-working personality. However, I DO NOT think that speaking only one language means that you are lazy or reserved.


  2. homegrownspanish says:

    I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. My first class was in high school. However, the teacher and I didn’t see eye to eye and I didn’t take it again in high school. When I arrived at uni, I took Spanish again (6 semesters). I think I overestimated how much I knew because years later I realized that I couldn’t understand people speaking, simple ingredients on a popcorn bag and could barely read. I also realized that Spanish Professors were speaking slow to us and that it was the equivalent of reading a beginner’s text book when listening to them.

    Fast-forward to now and the past 2 1/2 years I have been plugging away and have not missed a day. My focus is on understanding speech. The reading part is easy. Writing is not hard either. My ability to talk improves each week and I love the fact that I can fill in gaps like a missing puzzle piece. All of a sudden a conjugation will click and I can speak like an adult in a certain area.

    I realize that continuing to study and not taking breaks is the key for me.

    Liked by 1 person

      • homegrownspanish says:

        Thanks, I have a number of things I do throughout the day. Understanding speech is hardest for me so I listen to audio or watch videos first. I also try to read a few articles or part of a book. After that, I just do what captures my attention. One thing I do to make sure I continue to improve is finish what I start. So, if I start a book or video, etc. I make sure I finish it so I will see progression.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. wildeyedandwandering says:

    I adored learning Spanish, though I never retained as much as I would have liked from high school courses. After living all this time in Beijing, I’ve been studying Chinese and it has been one of the hardest things I’ve tried to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erica C. says:

    Hi there! Nice post! 🙂 I am bilingual – fluent in English and Spanish (my blog name alludes to that!). However, I can understand and speak quite a bit of Italian (thanks, Spanish! It’s the Latin roots. They come in handy. ;).) I would love to learn French someday. I used to know a little bit of Dutch and Japanese, but hey…if you don’t use it, you lose it! And that’s pretty much what happened to me. I’m determined to have bilingual children, haha. My husband is still learning Spanish. 🙂 Don’t give up learning a second language, it’s so worth it and the sooner you start the easier it’ll be!

    xo E

    Liked by 1 person

    • sydnijackson says:

      That’s awesome! Yes, the nice thing about learning one language is that similar ones are much easier to learn. You should totally try to have bilingual children! I was talking to someone about that today – I think even if you introduce the language at a young age and forget about it for awhile, it will still be beneficial for the child when they try to learn it later on.


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