March 18

As someone who is still in the process of learning a language and working my way towards fluency, I am incredibly frustrated at how difficult this is. I am sort of stuck at the intermediate stage when it comes to learning French. I can speak in all tenses and have dealt with a lot of the annoying niggly issues yet I try and watch TV and I understand only about 40% of what’s said. I talk to Frenchies and in every sentence they say there are words I don’t know and these words prevent me from knowing what the hell is going on! I know I have to gain a bigger vocabulary but this is taking forever and I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. I feel stuck! And I look at all these people in the world who have managed it and I wonder, what am I doing wrong? Is it just me? Am I not capable of becoming fluent in another language?

We live in a world where having a second language, or more for that matter, looks good on your CV. It is encouraged by our governments to take the plunge and give it a go. That’s all well and good, but learning a language is an expensive hobby! Courses are split into levels from beginner to advanced and each level can put you back £100-200. The Rosetta Stone level 1-5 package can cost around £200-350. Other CD packages can cost you from £50 onwards and books can cost you from around £10-30 and more sometimes! And the biggest kick in the teeth is that some of these even say inside the book or on the back of the CD pack that it is a great resource to use with other resources! WHAT! Ok, I’m not a total idiot. I do know that one book isn’t going to make me Edith Piaf overnight but at these prices I can’t afford to pay for books, CD, PC software like Rosetta Stone e.t.c and for courses/lessons on top of that! I’m all for learning another language until it costs me an arm and a leg! I’ve nothing wrong with paying for resources but they’re so expensive nowadays that it takes months to save for all the resources before you even start learning.

Living in the country where your target language is spoken is always recommended but most people can’t afford to just leave the country and start their lives elsewhere when they have a job, a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. Plus, how many sites are there of some person saying “I know how you can learn a language in just 3 months! Just put your bank details in here and…….” fuck off!!

So from there you could try and find a pen pal who speaks your target language on one of the many sites available. Now, I don’t want to be awful here, but littered amongst the genuine people out there who are just looking to improve their language skills are those who are there just for a green card or a shag. Frankly, I’m not looking to marry or shag some random bloke who has proven in their first words to you that they’re a lying bastard as they’re contacting you for reasons other than sharing a language.

So for those out there like me who are poor and can’t afford all this stuff, what do you do to improve when you’re stuck at the intermediate stage like me? It’s frustrating because I feel a need to express myself in French yet I have words missing that prevent me from saying what I want to say. Especially when it’s to defend my country! You see, French people love to slag off their own country as well as everyone else’s, but heaven forbid a foreigner slags off France! (Even if you’re just repeating what they said!) Frenchies are funny :-)

Anyway, mini rant over! It’s time for me to get back to torturing myself with the subjunctive! :-)