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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Ack, I'm an elitist anglophone snob

So I was going to write this entry in French, but I discovered along the way that I've forgotten my simple past tense. This disturbs me.

I took French from grade 1 until grade 11 in school (this was before the provincial government postponed mandatory French until grade 4). It's only compulsory until grade 9, but I liked my teachers, and the courses were interesting and academic. Plus, being able to speak another language is a plus. Except I can't really speak it now, can I?

Part of me thinks I don't have an ear for languages. I excelled at reading and writing French. However, even at the height of my proficiency, I was never too hot at pronunciation or comprehension of spoken French. Nevertheless, I feel bad that I live in a bilingual country yet I only speak English. There's this whole other culture that's an integral part of my country's history and current events, yet I ignore it. I feel like an elitist anglophone snob!

This week's episode of Spark includes a segment about the French-English digital divide. That's what got me thinking about this, although it was also tonight's French-language debate amongst the federal party leaders. I recorded it, even though my French is rusty. Luckily I was able to catch the gist of what I watched--I didn't watch it all, because it is rather long, and most of the issues will be covered again in Thursday's English-langauge debate.

Of course, no amount of wanting my French to improve will magically make it improve. I'd actually have to do something about it. My chances of doing this in my free time are virtually nil. Maybe next year, if it's offered, I'll take Lakehead University's Elementary French course--it accepts my grade 11 French class as a prerequisite, and that will provide the classroom-directed motivation I need to re-engage myself in French. I guess I could also try reading for leisure in French. Maybe some Camus? I wonder if I could get my hands on Douglas Coupland in French.... :P

For those of you who speak multiple languages, what was your experience in learning languages other than your first? If you went through immersion (either in school or just by living in a different country), did you find that conducive or challenging?