The Joy of Learning a Language

When I was in high school, I took four years of Spanish and two years of French. In my junior year, my mother insisted I take French. I really didn’t want to but couldn’t think of a way out.

To my surprise, I discovered that learning French was more fun than learning Spanish. Each lesson in the French textbook started with a story about French teen-agers. Every day, the teacher played a tape of authentic French speakers acting out the stories with sound effects. Looking back years later, I was inspired to write the following from That’s Life: New and Selected Poems.

LEARNING FRENCH

In the high school classroom,

as I read the story in the textbook,

I’m in France with Guy and Suzanne,

basking on a sunny beach

or drinking wine in an outdoor café.

 

As French dance music fills the room

from the tape accompanying the lesson,

I find myself in the arms of a handsome monsieur

after a meal of chicken in wine sauce

topped off with chocolate mousse.

We whirl around the room.

 

The school bell’s clang jolts me back.

I rise, follow others out of the classroom,

resigned to being a teen-ager in Wyoming.

 

Did you ever learn a foreign language? How old were you? What was it like? Click on the link below to hear me read the above poem.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/learning%20french.mp3

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Pre-order That’s Life Today!

 

 

Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.

3 thoughts on “The Joy of Learning a Language”

  1. Abbie–Tres bien! What a great post at this season of the year when semesters have recently begun for schools of all levels. I so enjoyed your poem when you shared it at a meeting of Behind Our Eyes. Hearing your reading of the poem here with your posting of a memoir makes me like the poem even more. I have always been a fan of language-learning. Both of my parents were fluent in Italian and English. I loved being able to study Spanish and French in high school, undergraduate school, and graduate school. When I was teaching, I signed up to take a course in Russian; unfortunately, not enough other students signed up for the class. Thus, the Russian language course was cancelled. In many ways, braille seems like another language to me. Merci beaucoup! Alice

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  2. Abbie, this post reminds me of Cape Breton Nova Scotia where I first heard the Gaelic language spoken. It is dying and fewer than 1000 people know it now, but someone started a Gaelic college and now young people are learning the language of their great grandparents. I never learned another language but studied Latin and it has helped me learn words in other languages that are similar to English.

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    1. Glenda, just for the heck of it, my dad and I took a semester of Latin as a continuing education course at Sheridan College here in Wyoming back in the 1990’s. I haven’t found it all that useful, but I’m glad you have.

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