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Monday, October 25, 2010

Learning a Language

There are some things I do very well. Extremely well! I can cook like a chef (an iron chef, to be exact), I can make a pun with any word in any conversation, I can earn an A on any test if given about an hour to study, and I can stop a crying baby in 15 minutes. Talent, I tell you!
There are also some things I do very badly, or not at all. For example, my hair. It looks like a rat's nest 70% of the time (and the other 30% it's still wet). I have never successfully mastered knitting, I'm a terrible judge of postal rates, and I absolutely cannot grow anything if my life depended on it.
Add to that list speaking another language. I can't do it. Thanks to my haphazard high school education and my major-changing college studies, I haven't really tried. I took two semesters of language in college: the first was Koine Greek, which I absolutely loved. I was translating with reckless abandon! Big catch: it's an ancient language, so you don't have to speak it. It is written-word only. After transferring schools, I took a French class, which was taught by an Italian. He often lapsed into the Italian language, and he always reverted to Italian pronunciation. I'm not sure what exactly I learned in that class, but it wasn't good French, that's for sure.
I've decided it's time for that to change. I'm learning another language and squashing the arrogant American stereotype! All I have to do now it pick a language. I've narrowed it down to two:
1. Spanish. By far the most practical choice, as I am faced with Spanish-speaking patients daily. Plus there are a lot of hispanics in the US, so this will remain a useful language. It is supposed to be easy to learn, and my little brother is fluent and could help me practice. A drawback is that I am not really drawn to the language and may find it hard to focus.
2. French. There's a great deal of French in New Orleans, and there's a lot of French on the menu. Although not as useful a choice, I really want to be able to order with confidence (yes, my life revolves around food). I want to visit France someday, and I want to speak French decently before then. And since my sister in law has a master's degree in French, I could get some practice in with her, too. me choose! Should it be French or Spanish?


  1. If you're going to put time into it go for what you enjoy. French, then if you feel like it down the road learn Spanish too, they are both romance languages, right? I'm not positive on this but my thought process is if you learn French then it would be easier to learn Spanish down the road since you already have one mastered.
    I work at a French Brassiere so all the French terms I know revolve around food :)

  2. I learned Spanish in high school and was really good at it, but I definitely let it slide once I got to college and now it's pretty much gone. I definitely regret it.
    I will say that Spanish is a pretty easy language and would be helpful professionally. The grammar structure makes sense and the pronunciation is easy. Once you remember the rules ("ah, a, ee, o, oo"= "a,e,i,o,u"), things sound the way they look on paper for the most part.
    I always perceive French as a "cool" language though, so if you want to be practical- learn Spanish but if you want to study something for the joy of learning, learn French. The way things are pronounced in French seem really hard and baffling to me though.

  3. Maybe Latin? Then you'll have an easier time with both Spanish and French!

  4. In Canada we're required to take French until Grade 8 and I actually took it all the way until my first year of university. I used to be able to speak it fairly well and read it really well. Three years off from taking it and I lost it all :(

    Whatever language you choose, keep up with it constantly! It takes a lot less time to lose it then it does to gain it!

  5. I say Spanish. But I live in a border state. ;)

    Either way - enjoy it!!

  6. I've seriously considered trying to learn Spanish. The 3 years of it in high school did nothing for me. There's a large Hispanic population in the town where I live which makes me think I should learn it, but I'd say go with the one you think you'd enjoy the most. I work with a large group of people in my company's China office and it certainly makes you feel like the ignorant American when they have to speak to you in English!

  7. I took French in HS and one year in college.... don't remember much. But I still am a fan of French. It gets my vote! :-)

  8. Well, as a Francophile, I vote for French! But really, go with the one that interests you the most. Or go w/ the one you will use the most often?