Sometimes Growing Up in a Bilingual Country Sucks

I love that Canada is a “cultural mosaic,” I really do. And even though a lot of the French despise Canada and want nothing to do with us, I really like the French language. It’s pretty.

But dammit, sometimes growing up in a bilingual country is difficult.

This is no shocker: if you’re fluent in both English and French in Canada, you’re set for life. You could get a bloody degree in Knitting Socks, but if you’re bilingual, you’ll get a job right away. Good jobs, like working with the federal government, the kind where overtime guarantees a cash flow so epic you can wipe your butt with it and still have enough left over to carpet the floors.

My beef is if you’re going to run a bilingual country, offer the same damned opportunity to become bilingual for everyone.

Photo by Edyta.Materka

Photo by Edyta.Materka

I started learning French in grade 2. My lessons involved pictures used to identify words like “stylo” and “chien.” The same lessons were repeated over and over again while gradually incorporating more intense lessons like verb tenses and sentence structure. My god, the mere thought of it makes me shudder.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning it, but the classes were always introductory. While I now I have a great basis for learning the language, I can’t seem to progress beyond the basics. Whether I pick up some language learning software or participate in a university class, I have to go through all the basics once again. The cycle is infuriating.

When I went to France last year, I was totally arrogant. I thought for sure I could find my way around, no problem. I could navigate the country easily, but when it came to conversing with strangers…it was terrible. I was a self conscious, blubbering mess.

I’m pissed about it. In St. John’s and pretty much every other city, kids are offered French immersion classes as a regular part of their learning. They take classes in both French and English, and so French is incorporated into their lifestyles like anything else. Plus it’s free (to my knowledge, correct me if I’m wrong), they have a right to that education. And people like me, who grew up in a small town, simply didn’t have that right. We didn’t even have the option (again, unsure if the provincial schoolboard makes such decisions, or the Canadian government).

Someone in my position, with a shitload of debt, could easily be making upwards of $60k a year with an English degree, simply by being bilingual. Just a quick Monster.ca search for “bilingual technical writers” draws up dozens of job offerings, some with starting salaries at $75k. I’m not kidding, it’s enough to make me weep.

I know I’m being a whiner, and the government does offer language learning courses as does Memorial University, but the sheer amount of work required to put into learning French is exhausting. Not to mention EXPENSIVE. I’m willing to pick up the evening classes, but how long does it take to become bilingual? Not even a university degree guarantees a bilingual certificate. How the hell would I fit that into my schedule, anyway?

Canada, sometimes you’re a bitch.

  • May 29 2010

    I agreeeeeee!! In Halifax there was the option to be in french immersion but I was never enrolled in it, partly because the schools that had it weren’t close to my house and it did not sound like fun. (when you are a little kid that is) What I learned/retain from my standard french classes in school from grade primary to 9 is pretty much just how to count to 100, hello, good bye and “May I please get something from my locker/go to the washroom/have something to drink”…… haha damn bilingualism!

    • May 29 2010

      I meant to touch on that too, we don’t understand the value of being bilingual when we’re kids!! Parents really need to push that sorta thing.

  • May 29 2010

    Learning languages shouldn’t cost you a thing! The best way to do it, would be to immerse yourself completely into it (by moving to france for instance, or a french part of canada). If you can’t do that, force yourself to use French for everything that doesn’t HAVE to be done in English.
    More info at fluentin3months.com, or just buy Benny’s e-book. You won’t learn French, but at least you’ll know how to learn it (the cheap way, not the easy way, there is no easy way)

    • May 29 2010

      Oh, I totally agree! But moving isn’t an option for me right now…unfortunately. I’ve been meaning to check out Benny’s work though, thanks for the reminder!

  • May 29 2010

    It’s good to know Canada doesn’t support monolingualism. Still, it’s surprising that so much emphasis is placed on French since only in Quebec is it the primary language – at least I think it’s only in Quebec.

    • May 29 2010

      It’s not the primary language in Quebec, it’s the ONLY language! Quebec isn’t bilingual at all!

    • May 30 2010

      Yeah it’s a bit confusing because Quebec is actually monolingual, they only speak French. But Canada as a nation is Bilingual or at least Federal Government services have to be provided in English and French. Same with ingredients and product information, they have to be English and French (except maybe in Quebec I don’t know I haven’t been there). The only province I believe that is actually bilingual is New Brunswick. I was there last year and I heard a lot of people speaking French.

  • May 29 2010

    I am with you Shannon. I have always complained about how we learned french in Canada. It was the same repetition up until the end of high school. I speak the same french that I learned in Grade six and never progressed passed it. I am in France now and doing a terrible job. While I can get by, I cannot converse.
    Dave is a little better than me as he had French Immersion for 2 years in Junior High. It is my goal to learn a second language, but I have failed so miserably at french (not for lack of trying) that I have decided that I am going to learn Spanish. In the next year or two, I am going to live in a Spanish speaking country and immerse myself in the language. I love it and need a second language before I die. I feel your pain:)

    • May 30 2010

      Deb, Spanish is actually the language I would love to learn the most! I’m always SO thrilled to hear it, and it has come a lot more naturally to me than French has. I think the similarities are a big benefit though, might even be possible to use both of them to become trilingual? Who knows, I feel inspired now.

  • May 29 2010

    How frustrating! As someone from the US, I’ve always wondered how Canada handled the French/English thing. That makes me sad to hear that opportunities to become bilingual are very unequal there. I live in Texas, where there are HUGE numbers of immigrants from Mexico (many legal, but TONS illegal). It seems that many of them don’t want to learn English, so nearly everything is also in Spanish now (many signs are in two languages, customer service phone lines always ask if you want to hear it in Spanish, etc.). I’ve seen so many job ads lately that say ‘bilingual preferred.’ Grrrr…very frustrating for those of us that never had the chance to grow up speaking it!

    • May 30 2010

      Totally! Are there any immersion schools in the USA? I assume not, but I’m curious…

  • May 29 2010

    I wouldn’t say it’s a right to learn a second language, it’s a privilege. Many people don’t have an education at all.

    In the UK it is law that secondary school onwards we must learn a 2nd language (age 11-16) however it is similar to what you went through, memorising and repeating. Which it has been proven now is not really an effective learning method (even though it’s used across nearly all subjects). I learnt French, although my ability in it is poor, we never had immersion classes at all, in fact I only learnt about immersion classes doing a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course – the example was teaching French in Canada ironically.

    I’ve picked up more Malay and Thai spending just 3-4 weeks in the respective country than I ever did French at school. So that shows me I’m not bad at learning language, but the teaching method (and my enthusiasm) during school years just doesn’t cut it.

    Nothing is achieved by complaining, go out there and learn if it really bothers you :-)

    As for the debt, would it surprise you to know I was roughly $30k in debt at the start of 2008? Is yours that much more? I’m sure you’ve read plenty of advice on clearing debt, but if you want some more and are willing to take it seriously you know where I am :-) I think a lot of long term travellers previous debt encouraged them to travel in they way they do (me included)

    • May 30 2010

      Lol, I really hope you’re being tongue-in-cheek about education being a privilege!

      Yeah, I’m looking into some programs around town, a friend of mine knows of a program so I’m waiting on more info from her. Ideally though, I’d love to learn the language on location.

      And I’m doing fine with my debt, it’s just a slow process and I don’t have an engineer’s salary. ;)

      • June 01 2010

        I consider myself lucky to be born where I was (and so should you be), but that doesn’t make me have any more right to education to a 3rd-world born citizen who struggles for health and clean water. It’s a privilege in my opinion.

        What salary do you think a newly qualified early 20s engineer gets in the UK? It’s certainly no way near $60k ;)

        • June 02 2010

          I’m not talking about the whole world though, obviously in that sense we’re privileged. That’s not the point. I do love Canada, it’s a great country, and I’m blessed for everything I do have. But if I’m technically putting the same money into the government and education system as every other Canadian, shouldn’t I have the same opportunities?

  • May 30 2010

    You could always move to Toronto or Vancouver, where very few Canadians speak French beyond the “pomme” and “toilette” abilities. I taught an ESL class in Toronto to some Senegalese students who told me how hard it was to live in Toronto because they spoke only French. Whaaa? I was so surprised, but I guess the language becomes less common the further away you get from Quebec.

    Good luck with your classes! Those $75k jobs might be within reach soon enough.

    • June 02 2010

      Thanks, Anne! Overlooked this comment before. I was surprised to hear that about Toronto actually, because when I spent time in Ottawa, I heard just as much French as English. I guess it’s different, being the nation’s capital and all.

  • May 30 2010

    Interesting tone you had there, Rob.

    No, it’s definitely a right when half the country speaks that language. That’s what paying taxes is for – to finance education. Democracy is supposed to work for the people. And democracy needs to suit wherever it’s operating. It’s contextual. Here, it calls for more local-learning emphasis on embedded French-learning, because Canada has a special relationship with the language. So I can understand the frustration….

    Like Rob, I grew up with the UK language-learning system, which is now non-compulsory beyond a certain level of schooling. This is, frankly, shocking. Cue a generation of new Brits ill-equipped to not only speak French or German or what have you, but also lacking the skills that allow us Brits to learn *any* second language. There are key skills in doing it. We won’t have them (or we’ll have them less than previous gens). Shocking.

    I’m currently learning French and Greek, and still pretty feeble at both. However, I’m not just sticking to the learning courses – as you say, it’s by rote stuff, “this is my pen, my pen is this, is this pen mine?”. Which is like learning everyday English from a dictionary. So half of my learning is either checking out spoken Greek/french podcasts and TV progs over the Internet, or even better, listening to radio, getting the sounds inside my head even if I don’t understand them yet….

    …and also I recommend picking up a French novel, and translating it into English for yourself. Really, really good way to pick the rules up, particularly the stupid, illogical, “artistic” rules. ;)

    • May 31 2010

      That’s how I feel too, Mike. Our tax dollars are paying for our education, yet I never did get to reap the full benefits.

      When I was in France last year, I actually picked up one of the novels and started reading it…and understood it fairly well! I guess it’s the listening I have the most difficult with. I think you’re on the right track though, by listening to conversations and tuning into podcasts, etc. I really would love to put more work into this.

    • June 01 2010

      I see your point from that view, but I was talking on a more worldwide scale rather than Canadian citizens.

      I didn’t mean to wind anyone up over it, but I don’t see why your place of birth/ where you was raised effects your rights, just you can be more privileged according to it. Does a monolingual country have less rights to learn a second language than a bilingual one?

      As for not having to learn a 2nd language at all in the UK, well I can certainly agree with you that it’s wrong! I don’t think you realise in school just how important it is for your future. I won’t get into the politics of that here though!

  • May 30 2010

    Oh, Candice! So glad you vented. Living in a Spanish speaking country now, I’m so frustrated that my Spanish isn’t better. I just remember when I first went to Spain to study abroad in college, and all the other students were so much further advanced in their third language than I was in my second. And I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico! And then I went to college in Miami. In both places, journalists who speak both Spanish and English were ahead of the game. (Enter my taking off for Spain…) But you really had to grow up with it; the education just wasn’t there for those of us from non-Spanish speaking families. Anyway, it will all work out, but it IS frustrating that our countries can’t get their act together when it comes to languages. When I was younger and trying to get a job in journalism, and constantly having to say I didn’t speak Spanish, I remember being so, so frustrated. But now I could do interviews in Spanish, and instead I’m a beach bum in Costa Rica. Life’s funny!

    • May 31 2010

      Hehe, I get incredibly jealous of people who are multilingual. I remember being on a catamaran in Mexico, and the tour guide and a French lady were discussing the similarities between French and Spanish and they were SO wrapped up in it. I totally wanted to be a part of it all. Hah, life is fun!

  • May 30 2010

    Maybe you should check out that dude’s blog “fluent in 3 months” He’s got some good tips :)

    Peux être que tu devrais jeter un coup d’œil sur le blog “fluent in 3 months”. Il y a plein de bon conseils !

    http://www.fluentin3months.com/

    • May 31 2010

      Hehe, yes, I’m familiar with Benny’s work and I’ve been in contact with him. Thanks for the tip!

  • May 30 2010

    Interesting take. I’d never thought about the challenges of living in a bilingual county. You’d think both languages would become commonplace in school. There are actually immersion schools in the US (since you asked) but many of them are for chinese and not spanish. Odd…

    • May 31 2010

      Really? I had NO idea about the immersion, and I’d never guess it was Chinese immersion. Crazy!

  • May 30 2010

    I feel your pain. There was an immersion program at a school in my town but my parents never signed me up for it. At the time I was glad because I was a kid and didn’t want to do more work. But looking back on it I wish I’d gone to an immersion school. I know it’s not impossible to pick up a language as an adult (as other people have pointed out Benny from fluentin3months.com has done it). But I know it’s much easier for kids to pick up a new language and studies have shown kids who speak more than one language often do better in other subjects in school. Basically it helps later in life. I know not everyone feels this way but I’d like to have full immersion classes mandatory for all Canadians. If Canada is a bilingual nation than there should be immersion classes available for all citizens.

    • May 31 2010

      Yup, seems to be the case! Although I’ve also heard the flip side of the coin, people saying that immersion really messes with a kid’s ability to comprehend what they’re reading, etc. Can’t see how that’s possible, though.

  • May 30 2010

    I’m a lot older than you are, and had even less opportunity to learn French when I was growing up in Halifax. There was no French immersion in Halifax or outside the city. My French teachers could barely speak a word of French. I was graduating from university by the time any kind of decent French education was available.

    I tell my Korean students all the time….if you want to learn English go travel or live in an English speaking country. You need to do the same, if you want to learn French. All languages take time and commitment to learn.

    • May 31 2010

      Ah, I wish I had that kind of commitment! But you’re the second person to suggest moving to Montreal, hehe. Perhaps I should take the hint.

  • May 30 2010

    PS>………….you don’t even have to go to France. Move to Montreal. It’s a fantastic city.

  • May 31 2010

    It definitely depends on the area. I grew up in a town of 5000 in Nova Scotia and we had the opportunity, although we’re next to New Brunswick so maybe there’s more of an emphasis.

    If you want a job and don’t know French move to Toronto. I lived there for 10 years and rarely heard it spoken.

    • May 31 2010

      Really? I figured Toronto would be fairly bilingual. Ottawa was practically all French, it was crazy.

  • May 31 2010

    I can relate all to well. Down here in Florida, it seems like English is a secondary language and spanish is the primary. Sometimes the stores will do their announcements in spanish and i am like SERIOUSLY!

    • May 31 2010

      Hahaha, that’s hilarious. Although switching between languages is sometimes mega frustrating. I remember being on a tour in Amsterdam and I kept nodding off because the announcer would have to read everything through in about 10 languages…so by the time it got back to English, 20 minutes had passed.

  • May 31 2010

    I’ve had some success with the FSI Language Courses online here: http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php

    They’re pretty good for getting you up to speed in many different languages.

    • May 31 2010

      I’ve never heard of that site before, actually. Thanks for the tip!

  • June 01 2010

    If you’re already fairly good at the basics (and it seems that you are) then one of the best ways to get some practice in is to use Ted.com videos. I made a video to demonstrate how it works here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nil5Wb34Wig

    TED right now has 374 videos in French:

    http://www.ted.com/translate/languages/fre_fr

    so more than enough. One other way that I like is to divide the screen up into two (English on one side, French on the other) and delete the English script a bit at a time as you turn it into French. Then you’ll be studying French while also learning something else new at the same time instead of just going over the content in a textbook.

    One other pretty far out idea for acquiring a good overall instinct for Romance languages is to learn a constructed language like Interlingua or Occidental, but you have to be of a certain personality type (like mine) to enjoy that.

    • June 02 2010

      Nice, thanks for the link! I guess that’s the key, seeking out unconventional ways of learning the language. I never considered using TED at all, I’ll certainly give it a shot.

  • June 01 2010

    I can relate to your frustration about the second language, though in my case I really have no one to blame but myself. Oh, certainly, I grew up in a poor school district where the first thing that got cut when money was tight was the language program. I had started learning french in first grade and picked it up quickly, but then it got cut (and was never reinstated). In high school, I took 4 years of German. WTH did I think I was going to do with that??? (The downside of always having to be different is that sometimes, you just don’t do the smart thing.) I should have studied French or Spanish. I’ve been trying to learn Spanish since last year at this time, and haven’t progressed very much, mainly because of my lack of self-discipline. I think at this point, immersion is the only way to go.

    • June 02 2010

      “The downside of always having to be different is that sometimes, you just don’t do the smart thing.” Lol, so true!

      At least we know it’s not too late to learn, right?

  • June 01 2010

    I feel the same way living in Miami and not speaking Spanish. Last summer, I applied for a bunch of part time summer jobs for which I was overly qualified and they all said they couldn’t hire me because I would have trouble helping their customers. Especially annoying because last time I checked, America was NOT a billingual country!

  • June 01 2010

    I totally agree – that’s why I ended up not continuing Spanish in university either – because it just doesn’t cut it. I want to go LIVE in spain, and shit’ll get figured out. The same basics just make your mind completely numb to any of it. I stopped French at grade 9, when we had to take it until – and I wish I took more of it, but as I look around at my friends that did – it really didn’t do that much good. If we had IMMERSION, I’m sure that would have changed things. I’m so jealous :(… and noone’s looking for English/Russian bilingual writers either… so.. well. Fuck.

    • June 02 2010

      Oh dude, as long as you’re bilingual with any languages, you should be able to find a niche somewhere! Russian is bloody impressive.

  • June 01 2010
    John

    Move to BC. Bilingualism is simply not an issue here. The federal government has a tiny presence, and only a tiny fraction of the jobs they have require applicants to be bilingual. Everywhere else, it’s English. No one cares about French here.

  • June 01 2010

    Wicked post! Having attended a solid 12ish years of PURE Canadian French immersion, I can honestly back up everything you say. Its all about its availability where you grow up. For one, most of my friends I met through sports and music and what have you, went to the english schools. Back home there was only a handful of french immersion schools, and each french school usually had an english side (which btw usually lead to rock throwing fights…french fries vs english muffins)

    As a government, i think Canada or the federallies SHOULD provide that immersion experience to every child, in reality, it should be mandatory. But unfortunately there are many wackos in Canada who think of the french language as a pesque to this semi-great nation that is Canada. Out west there is a prevailing feeling that French = snob. Possibly due to western Canada’s rapid movement towards Americanization (ie American Influence). Yayaya, there are some cases of “no way, we love french”, and there are even little hidden gems of towns scattered throughout western Canada who treat French as the dominant language. But the majority sticks their nose up to the French. Which suuuuuucks.

    I for one, am extremely glad that my french goes beyond “Wheres the toilet” and “Can I sharpen my pencil”. Its been mega useful. But despite my confidence in my French speaking/reading/writing ability, there is noooo effin way I could keep up with native French speakers. Despite the french immersion, and speaking in 24/7, 5 days a week for like 12+ years. I think in order to take those jobs you REALLY need to have grown up and lived in French, spoke some at home, with grandparents, or friends, or grew up in a culture that maintains that whole linguistic culture.

    Woah, holy writing. Sorry, french gets me worked up. I think its something the government needs to handle better, the whole bilingualism. It should really be encouraged more (ps: doesn’t cost more, just diff enrollment process for the kids).

    And also, yea, lots of kids in my class were like “nose picking stupid” when it came to reading. The french/english thing can mess you up if its not taught right. I survived (barely). I found the hardest thing to grasp though was being taught math in 100% french for like 10 years, then all of the sudden in highschool your math switches to english. And you’re left with these effin hard concepts, combined with trying to figure out the right words for things you already know, but call them by different names and stuff. To this day triangle types still screw me up, along with anything algebraical. However I think even had I been taught ONLY english, math still would have kicked my ass.

    Im confident that dipping your feet in is really not a great way for a language to stick, I’m pretty sure in order for you to be able to grasp the language, you need to be able to think in that language. Which usually requires complete and utter immersion. If you’re going to learn a language, dunk yourself. Its the only way for it to stick.

    • June 02 2010

      Wow Corbin, I’m surprised to hear you’ve been through the whole immersion process and still find it difficult to keep up with the native speakers! Question: do they teach France-French in immersion, or Canadian-French? Hahaha. When I spent time with my coworkers last year in France, they laughed about how warped Canadian-French is. They thought it was hysterical.

      Nice to hear from someone who actually did the immersion program, though. I actually cannot wrap my head around “thinking” in another language at all, but I think you’re right, that’s when it ‘clicks.” My roommate says the same thing, it’s like a sudden sense of clarity. Can’t wait until I can get to that point.

      • June 06 2010

        lol yea, I wasn’t much of a student though, so that could be part of it. But yea, the french we’re taught is some bastard child french. Its like formal mixed with random weird english slang. I’ve gotten drunk with several people from france, which inevitably lead to me drunkenly parlaying en francais. I was usually told that its understandable, but not your average france french. Just different.

        If you want to hear the craziest bastard french hang out with some Acadians. Wooah nelly. They’ll speak full on french for like 2 minutes then throw in a phrase of english, then a minute of french, then a bit more english. In order to understand some of them you honestly need to know both french and english, lol. Its awesome.

    • September 03 2012
      Maíra

      I think the problem with your fluency is because of your teachers. It´s impossible to grow up (spending so many hours a day under this influence is growing up!) using a language and not be fluent in it! I started learning english when i was 8 and went up to when i was 14. when i was 15 i went to canada for the first time. i was shy at first, and messed words up sometimes, but my english was pretty damn good, some ppl even thought i was canadian (seems weird, but i guess with so many immigrants a lot of ppl have strong accents there!). and all i had was 2, 1 and a half hours of class every week. I wonder if they just didn´t encourage critical thinking enough, if they let you communicate in english if the topic was too complex or what, but this all sound kinda weird. And if your not the only one feeling this way, it just shows that french immersion programs are not very good.
      I agree that the best way of learning a language is to go to a place that speaks it, specially because they communicate differently. It took me a little while to be able to make jokes to canadian people, because you just don´t have the same sense of humor we do, for example. And I bet french french and candian french have the same kind of discrepancies too, after all it´s a different cultural background.
      My tip as someone that speaks 3 languages fluently nowadays: go there, pretend you don´t speak english. do like the japanese guy. if you get thrown in the pool you either learn to swim or you drown!

  • June 03 2010
    Jeffery

    Just found your blog today, I can definitely relate to your French problems. I almost failed high school French twice, that really dragged down my grades. I think the most important thing in learning a language is motivation, if you have that you will find all the means to help you learn it well. I just wasn’t motivated to learn French in high school so I didn’t learn much in 4 years.

    In college I got addicted to Japanese anime and was super motivated to learn Japanese. I signed up for a 9 week intensive Japanese program my first summer in college. Right after course registration they dropped us into a classroom with a teacher and banned English after that. The first day everything coming out of the teacher’s mouth was like a stream of sounds, I had no idea where one word began and another ended. The second day I started being able to catch some words here and there and make out what’s going on. This process by the way is highly mentally exhausting, trying to catch syllables and words out of a stream of alien sounds. I stuck through it because I really wanted to learn Japanese, I studied 10 hours a day and after a week of this I started having dreams in Japanese. (which is weird since I still wasn’t thinking in Japanese at that point) After 2 weeks I started thinking in Japanese and things started getting easier and less exhausting. At the end of the 9 weeks I could have basic conversations and not feel exhausted. I continued studying Japanese after the summer, and went to Japan the next spring. That was 9 months from when I started learning, and I was able to have long conversations on train rides and on walking tours of Tokyo with native speakers by that point.

    A lot of people here have mentioned immersion, which is definitely helpful. But from my experience, I think your problem is not the lack of immersion, but that you never broke through the critical threshold for a new language. I don’t know how much you know about language statistics, but back in the early 20th century people studied the statistics of word occurrences, and found that for every language they studied word frequencies form a Zipf distribution. It’s similar to the 20/80 rule, you only need to know a fraction of a language to be able to understand the vast majority of real world usages. Once you reach that threshold, learning new words from context, conversation, immersion, etc becomes easy and natural. Even though I’m a native speaker of English I still encounter English words I don’t know, but learning them is not difficult. For me doing the intensive Japanese program during a period of my life where I had burning motivation to learn Japanese allowed me to break through that threshold in 9 weeks. After that I could pick up additional Japanese on my own from watching Japanese TV shows and talking to native speakers outside of class. Before that point I would have just been lost even if I were exposed to immersion. If you are truly serious about learning French, you need to muster the motivation to study until your brain hurts and break through that critical threshold before your motivation dissipates. Immersion will not help you much before you get to that point.

    • June 03 2010

      Damn, that’s quite the inspirational story, considering you had to learn a whole new alphabet as well! I’ve been spending some time researching immersion programs since I wrote this blog post. Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it.

  • June 04 2010

    I hope you’re thanking your lucky stars that you weren’t born in the US (or the Sudan for that matter).

    It would be so nice to have fluency incorporated into our education. I agree! I’m embarrassed about my Spanish every day. But at a certain point, I have to recognize that the one who hasn’t bothered to use the subjunctive properly is me. Ughghg! I don’t want to! I just want to use it flawlessly, but after 2 years in Argentina, I have to admit that’s not the way it works.

    I kind of wonder if immersion classes are even really effective for fluency in the end. I know many people who went to English schools from all over the world that are not exactly what you would call fluent.

  • June 05 2010

    haha :)
    in south africa we have 11 offical languages and our tv and government stuff takes place in ALL OF THEM. everybody can speak english so its more of culture thing than a huge divider.
    french is hard. im bilingual but in a weird african language (afrikaans) that sounds like german and dutch but u actually cant really understand eachother! lameness.
    :D you could try getting hyponotised?

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