June 16, 2010. Earlier this year I became acutely aware that no matter how intellectual, worldly, cultured, and – let’s face it – devilishly charming I might consider myself to be, there was and remains a huge gap in my education that has plagued me for years. I speak of course of the Fluency in a Second Language gap. I have taken introductory semesters in all the world’s most popular languages, eventually settling for some reason (my apologies, Professor Danford, I loved your classes dearly) on Latin. And while I can navigate my way through the Aeneid perhaps a little more successfully than Aeneas, it is difficult to find people willing to speak Latin with me who don’t also wish me to enter the confessional booth.
Thus, I settled on French. Twas my first attempt at a foreign language – a year in high school, and then my first semester in college, before wandering through German, Russian, and who knows what else. I am a closet Francophile. I love French cinema, French poetry, French food. I love the sound of the language, the look of it on the page. I desperately wish to learn it. I don’t know what France’s gauge is for judging a poor American’s level of fluency, but I hope to live up to it; I certainly intend to visit before this life is up.
Anyway. I’ve been trying the immersion method – Rosetta Stone, mostly, but also these wicked awesome beginning French readers from the 1960s. The artwork is terrific: