A Toddlers’ Business

Not-so-new news, I’m taking up another foreign language – le français!

It all started when I found out I could declare a minor in my Bachelor course (Communication and Media Studies), and as I was looking through a long list of possible minors on offer, I spotted French. Four FREN subjects, one for each semester, and I can even plow harder and do an extra one in my last session! What’s not to like?

Image: le français (artwork by me)

I’ve always prided myself on being a quick language learner, and I love that feeling of enlightenment when a muddy point of a language – a phrase which I hadn’t fully comprehended or a structure that hadn’t really made sense – becomes so clear and apparent. It is that feeling of excitement and contentment that pushed me to give this post a start.

Note: This post is not particularly about learning French – it focuses more on the experience I’ve got, picking up a third/foreign language after English.

Learning a new language when you’re a grown-up gives you a whole new perspective. I wondered if that’s what it’s like when a child learns to speak her first words: the idea is there, you’re very much aware of everything that’s going on but your don’t have the medium, the material, the resources – the words – to convey it.

I first learned a foreign (second) language when I was seven; at that age, my capabilities to express things in my mother tongue and in English were not much different from each other. I was – and since then, have been – simultaneously learning two sets of vocabulary and grammar to describe the same world. But now, I started learning French when I’m already so used to being able to express myself comfortably in Vietnamese and English, that it pushes me sometimes to frustration and self-disappointment when I  find myself struggling just to be able to tell the simplest story or ask the most straightforward question.

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Image: a recent page in my FREN151 notebook – This is how I while away some free time and also a fun way to learn new words

It’s now the eighth week of Autumn session, and I’ve found myself enjoy learning French more than I could possibly imagine. So, chances are, I’m gonna stick with it until I graduate – hopefully I’ll be reasonably fluent by then :).


Here’s a great video on the perks of being bilingual/multilingual:

Based on this video, I can say that I set out as a subordinate bilingual (I first learned English by filtering it through my mother tongue) then became a coordinate one as about seven years ago, when I was reading a novel in English. I suddenly noticed that I wasn’t translating things into Vietnamese in my head anymore. That prompted me to pay more attention to my English-learning habits thus I found out I had already been learning new concepts in English without any translation!



2 thoughts on “A Toddlers’ Business”

  1. “I was – and since then, have been – simultaneously learning two sets of vocabulary and grammar to describe the same world.”
    Do you mean “the same word”? :”)
    Well, embarking on something new is always challenging, especially language – one of the most difficult things because it describes our thoughts, and if that language is French, things are totally different. :^) Anyway, it is cool that you still keep the curious specs and enjoy that challenging process.
    Wish you giant strides on your way!

    1. Well, that “same world” thing actually means that I was learning to describe one world in two languages, hope it’s not too confusing :3
      Yep, learning a new language is challenging but it sure is rewarding as well :”) Thank you VAnh ^^ Hope you can take up French soon!!

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