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

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