Words

Language Learning

I’ve been learning to speak French over the last 8 months, and its been really great. I’ve met some lovely friends, all from different backgrounds and ages, yet we get on really well, and our tutor is excellent. The reason I’m writing this post is because I popped into my local town centre today in search of language learning books. There are too many, and it’s hard to select the appropriate one.

When I began my course last year, I bought a number of books dedicated to learning to speak French easily and fluently. I needn’t have. My tutor gave us the most effective book for our studies and we have used this book with the accompanying CD throughout the course and for our own personal study. No more are needed! Of course a French dictionary is beneficial, along with a notebook, but that’s about it. 

Anyway, it is a comprehensive study course, starting with the absolute basics of the language for the beginner, entitled ‘BBC Active French’. 

Chapters include: “Introducing yourself and your family“, “Asking for directions“, “Ordering food and drink“,  and “Giving your nationality“, along with many more – a lot of what you’ll need to become confident in speaking the language. It has the additional CD to aid with pronunciation, along with a section on grammar. I tend to listen to the CD in my car and copy the conversation as I’m driving, to the amusement of passing motorists (“Où est la bibliothèque….Où est la bibliothèque….Où est la bibliothèque….Où est la bibliothèque?”, though I do miss the infamous “..zis will ‘elp you to fucus..!” :-))

I have reached a point where I am now using the joining words to make my sentences complete, such as ‘like’, ‘was’, ‘but’, ‘and’, ‘is’ and so on. This book guides you to that point in your learning at the right time. You can buyit separately, or in a boxed-set, incorporating the 2 CDs.

There’s also a website at www.bbc.co.uk/languages. It includes sections such as ‘Testing your French’, ‘French vocabulary’, and ‘Children’s French’ with GCSE Bitesize activities, and much more. It is definitely worth taking a look.

There are also more languages to choose from.

PS…Finally, I just want to mention that I bought another book the other day as the subject intrigued me. It’s called ‘Is That a Fish in Your Ear? – The amazing adventure of translation,’ by David Bellos. The title is a reference to the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, apparently (Google ‘Babelfish‘).

I bought this one because I have an inquisitive mind, and just learning a language is not enough…I like to know the background of translation and the reasons why we  tend to learn a language by comparing it to our mother tongue. I can’t see how that can work. Surely, it is better to learn the new language without constantly comparing, but this book may prove me wrong. In the introduction, the author sets the scene for the reasons behind his writing the book. He also comments that if a hundred competent translators are given the same page to translate, the chances of any two being completely identical are practically nil. So, what does that say for the language we’re  learning? Are we learning to speak properly so that a native speaker can understand us?

I’m currently on chapter 3 and I’ll let you know. But so far so good, I cannot put it down 🙂

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