Learning a new language and how it has changed my perspective about others’ struggles!

Recently I started taking classes to improve my knowledge of another language – French! I have always wanted to be fluent in French since I was about age 14. I was even part of a team that represented my state in a national competition. My high school French club won on state level, and went on to the national level. I was so proud! It created in me a strong liking for the language. Back then, most of the lingo I used during the competition was “cram and pour”… meaning, I basically memorized most of the conversation on the script given to me, and I acted it out! LOL!

So when an opportunity to improve my knowledge of the language recently surfaced, it only made sense that I seize the opportunity! Indeed, it takes a lot of effort, commitment and time to learn a new language and be a fluent speaker! And that definitely goes for anything worth doing at all – you need commitment!

My experience learning a new language has made me realize how much is required from those learning English as a Second Language (ESL), especially when you are under pressure to learn the language quickly, in order to increase your chances of finding a job, or maybe just for you to get by in a new environment!

In this part of Canada where I live, English is widely spoken. Although there is a large French community here, that is the second largest to Quebec. Quebec is a predominantly French province!

My French “enseignante” Rachelle, spoke of what learning a new language is like for different people! According to her, for some people, they learn a lot quickly and then reach a “plateau”, and for others, their learning pace may seem slow, but they improve steadily. Some people pick up on the speaking aspect really fast, others it’s the writing, reading or listening that they grasp first. We all learn at different speeds.

I had an experience on the bus recently. A lady got on the bus, and sat right next to another lady. This lady who just got on the bus tried striking a conversation with her sitting partner. She was trying to communicate to the other lady that the card she used in paying her fare is the same card she sees painted on the inside of the bus. It’s called a Peggo card, it was newly introduced, and there were advertisements about it all over town. But she could not communicate in English properly and had to use a lot of gestures and nods! The other lady finally got what she was trying to communicate and exclaimed “Oh the peggo!, yeah, that’s what you use to pay”. I bet there may have been more to say between those two, only if the lady could express herself better in English. The lady looked funny with the gestures, only because she could not communicate well to the English speaking lady!

A few stops later, some other folks got on the bus! Interestingly, the lady who struggled to communicate earlier, lit up! She recognized the guys who just got in. They spoke the same language! She immediately clicked and switched to her native language. She could communicate, and as a result, she felt more confident and comfortable!

I picture myself being a native French speaker, and wonder how I will feel in an English dominated country, like a “minority”, trying to learn English. Of course, in a place like Quebec, the English speakers are the minority, because French is the official language over there!

On this life’s journey, be nice to others in their own kind of struggles. Simply because your own struggle is different, don’t think less of others!

“Because someone doesn’t speak your language does not make them a dunce! They are “literate” in their language and you are an “illiterate” in their language!” – TheImmigrantsJourney

On my French journey, so far I’m loving the classes, learning a lot that can be utilized immediately, like at the store, meeting people, asking for directions, and many more exciting experiences! Recently, my classmates and I visited a French “pâtisserie” store in the community to practice our language skills, and of-course, we savored some goodies while at it! 🙂

For your viewing pleasure, enjoy!

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P.S: Language improvement classes are available all over Canada. Many are English Conversation classes, and improvement classes, and they are really intensive. French is also available. I shared a link in an earlier post on how to access newcomer services, which includes language training & assessments – https://theimmigrantsjourney.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/12-important-things-to-do-within-your-first-2-weeks-in-canada/  If you are a fluent English speaker, and will like to be bilingual, you can consider the French opportunity. Bursaries are available to help you on that journey! First, you need to take a test to determine your competency level, then you are placed in a programme based on your test scores.

*enseignante – French word for “teacher”

* pâtisserie – French word for “pastry”

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4 thoughts on “Learning a new language and how it has changed my perspective about others’ struggles!

  1. Nice write up! I’ve always wanted to learn french too, but have been so unfortunate. I even went to a french school sometime in the past and have completely forgotten everything because I didn’t mix up and mingle in a french speaking environment.
    About two years ago, I went to Quebec and I remember how lost I felt because everyone spoke french (although most of them speak English and choose not to). It was fun visiting Quebec though, felt like I was in a different country lol.
    Have a great week ahead!
    http://www.zinnyfactor.com

    Like

    1. I feel you Zinny! The thing about losing a language skills when you don’t immerse yourself in it, is so true! Now, i consciously seek out ways to improve my French skills, by listening to French news on TV, and using “Mango” language app which is a good one! Winnipeg has a large French community, so i try to look out for French events to attend.
      I’ve always wanted to be fluent, so with these small lessons that have made good progress, i refuse to let go this time!
      And your comment on how in Quebec, some can speak English, but choose not to, cracked me up. I don’t blame them jare.

      Thanks for stopping by, and all the best with French! C’est possible! 🙂

      Like

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