My limitations are so frustrating (to me).
Back as a minion in the school system I was good at French. It might have had something to do with my teacher (on whom I had a mild crush, let’s be honest), but in general this was a subject I could just do. Not like that twice-weekly two hour torture session that was PE, for example. Even metalwork was better than PE – but then in metalwork we actually had a forge and our teacher actually let us use it. My school was quite cool like that (or maybe my teacher was just nuts) – I’m not sure we’d be allowed to work with white- and red-hot metal these days.
But anyway. French. Yes. French I could do. Until I was halfway through the A-Level and decided that actually (Further) Maths was going to be my bf and he was a bit jealous.
A few centuries pass and I start learning Dutch. Which is a somewhat different language, characterised by verbs that go in funny places, sounds that remind you of someone vomiting, and a plethora of small words which aren’t really definable but are, nonetheless, pretty essential.
Recently my mate JJ has got me hooked – and I mean hooked, it’s almost like he introduced me to crack – on Duolingo. I’ve dived into French. How hard can it be, anyway?
Oh my jolly goodness how hard can it be. Verb conjugations are giving me a headache. The contortions I put my fingers through in order to get the accents, the circumflexes, the cedillas (I can no longer be bothered to even check if I spelt ‘cedilla’ right, which should tell you something)…oh my word.
So I take a break and look at Twitter, where the police (!) retweet something about when teenagers ‘chilling out’ becomes a public nuisance. And I shoot off a reply with my usual brand of sarcasm, having checked the grammar and syntax in the blink of an eye (it was correct, too).
Let’s be clear. A language I’ve been speaking for less than ten years is something I’m now more proficient in than a language I began when I was ten. If that doesn’t say something for the value of immersion in the process of language acquisition, then I don’t know what will.