Monday, 6 July 2009

I hate languages.

No, I hate studying languages but I can't help it; it's such an addictive activity for me. This year I think I have studied too many and now I am going crazy. First Icelandic then German then this…French.
I hate sitting in a classroom and memorizing grammar rules and always thinking I'm so incompetent and barely staying afloat of what I am studying.
Like geography, language is not learned inside the classroom but OUT THERE.
That is why I am Québec, duh, but unfortunately it is tourist season, I feel like a tourist, and I am in my own enclosed little world speaking with other non-native speakers and I am really feeling the limitations of this program. Even if I am experiencing a family homestay (which is to my advantage-my 'mêre' doesn’t know much English but really really likes to talk. And has good home-cooked food), I do not get to talk to people my age and ask them questions about relevant things etc.

I now remember why I promised to myself to never again take language courses. It made language so dry and dead. It wasn't until I took a bus in Ottawa going to Gatineau that I felt I had spoken any real French. And in Iceland, the French and other languages I heard was une française that expressed emotions and needs and certainties. It was not pretend. It was not sitting in a classroom with other semi-competent speakers spending half the time cancelling out in our heads what was not to be said.
Then I reason that if I had not spent all those years studying French, I would not get to experience the vibrancy that surrounds me when I go out into the real world. I would just sit there, sounds passing in one ear and out the other. I can't express myself and I do not get others' expressions.
So no pain, no gain…I guess.
But still, I still think the best way to learn languages is not in the classroom, not even with a native-speaking teacher, but outside in every domain of life surrounded by native speakers.

There is my linguistic rant for the day.

More about my first days in Québec next time.

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