3.29.2009

Learning French with Rosetta Stone

A few years ago I was in Italy with one of my sisters. We walked into a tobacco shop to buy some stamps. In Italian we exchanged pleasantries with the shop owner and then asked about buying stamps. When we were paying for our purchases the shop owner asked us in perfect english if we were from California. We were shocked and asked how he knew. "You are both speaking Spanish," was his reply.

This story always makes me smile. It reminds me of how hard I try to speak the native tongue of a country I am visiting and how humbling that can be. I always try to learn the language when I travel. Key phrases always include please and thank you; directions and foods. I also usually learn how to say "I'm sorry, I am still learning whatever language I am learning". I have found that trying to speak the language, even when I butcher it, always gets me what I need. My really bad language skills and a smile have seen me around the world.

I took a semester of French in college about four years ago. The only thing I remember is how to ask if an apple is organic.
I have a love for languages, but not an ear for them. When this trip became a reality I decided to try to learn French again and bought the Rosetta Stone language immersing CDs.

I am still on Level 1 (I bought Level 1-3) but I thought I would write about my experience so far. First I would like to say that I am retaining a lot of what I am learning. The system is an interactive CD with images you match up to a phrase spoken by a native speaker. There are times when an image will be shown and I have to say what it is. The mic on the program rates my pronunciation. New vocabulary is introduced in each lesson (Lesson one is broken up into five sections with ten to eight sections in each of those). The system jumps right in and you are speaking french.

So what kind of French are you speaking? Well nothing I think I will be using in France. I am learning things like:
The man drinks
The girl runs
The boy swims
The woman cooks

And the plural of all of those. As time goes by I have learned:
The man and woman eat rice
The boy drinks milk
The girl does not eat a sandwich

So while I am excited to be retaining the french I am learning, I am wondering if it is going to help me in France? I can just picture myself now; I go into a shop to buy stamps and my brain switches to Spanish because the only french I can remember is "The boy swims." I guess I can always ask "Cette pomme, est lui organique?"