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?
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.
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!