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In love with languages

2. May 2007


I just finished A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke (after it spent a year in my TBR pile), and now I feel like dusting off my French again.
Or get into any language, really.
A friend of mine is starting to study Japanese (which of course means I feel like dusting my sorry Japanese skills off, too). And there are those Cantonese books that are still staring at me, daring me to use them…

I miss learning a language. It’s been almost three years since I’ve attended any form of real language class. The first three years since kindergarten. Isn’t that scary (and weird)?
I’ve always been surrounded by foreign languages. It comes with living and traveling in Europe with culture-hungry hippie parents, I suppose. I remember always being mildly surprised if we went somewhere and there were still German-speakers present.

Apart from chunks in over a dozen languages (chunk size may vary), I’ve also learned the meta skill of Understanding, which means I can follow a conversation in any language, even if I don’t understand a word people are saying. I still feel part of the conversation, I just can’t add to it for obvious reasons.
I find myself doing it all the time. Listening to friends speak Chinese or Japanese on the phone. The Boy speaking Cantonese with his family. My parents speaking… oh wait, I do understand those. >_<

And speaking of parents, apparently, they found my website, so in case you guys are reading this blog, HELLO! \(^_^)/

Moving on.

I had my first language class when I was still in kindergarten. It was English for children and mothers, or something like that, and while apparently, it was disappointing on the mothers’ end, it was quite fun where we were. Even though the only thing I remember is us having to draw a family portrait and naming each relative in English. I thought I’d be smarty-pants and labeled everybody. I got the words right, but instead of writing “my father”, “my mother”, etc, I called everybody “me”, as in, “me father”, “me mother” and so on. I was showing my presumed Irish roots, eh? that was fun.
I also still remember some lines from the 6 singles (yes, this was pre-CDs) that I used to listen to obsessively to learn some basic English vocab. And I knew the word “tie” before my dad did. I was so proud at the time.

In primary school, a few friends and me woulds spend many recess hours playing the “word” game. One of us would say a German word, and then everybody would say the corresponding word in a foreign language. Two years of English made me the resident expert, of course (and don’t tell anyone, but sometimes, I made words up. Shhhhhh.). my other friends were a Korean girl who came to us in grade 2 without knowing a word of German (she was the inspiration for the game; we taught he new words that way), my best friend, who is Lebanese, and another friend whose parents were from Spain (for some bizarre reason, every Spanish boy in my primary school at that time was called Marco. it was very confusing at times). What a great game.

Of course after that, I always had more structured language classes throughout my school career, what with German schools teaching you at least two foreign languages (we learned four, including Latin). And at uni, I always had a language major going alongside whatever else it was that I was studying. And when I was in drama school (when I wasn’t in the UK), I went to night school to keep up my languages.

Now that I’ve finished uni, I’m language-course-less.
What I really want to do is find a good Cantonese course here in Melbourne, but all the schools I’ve found didn’t look very reassuring (or didn’t have Canto, only Mandarin). And The Boy is having a hard time teaching me (read: it’s just not happening).

So I’m stuck listening to the Pimsleur audio course for idiots: Cantonese 1. Which I’ve studied when I was living in Canberra (Canberra is a riveting city, and the best thing you can do is listen to a foreign language while you’re walking through its (very pretty) curvy streets in winter.

So let’s hear from you guys. What languages do you speak? Which ones would you love to lwearn? Are you currently studying? Where/how? Need a conversation partner?

*sigh* I need to find a conversation partner that speaks Cantonese and wants to learn German. I had one, once. That didn’t work out, either.

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