I Think I’ve Finally Figured Out Foreign Language Classes

A friend and I have been taking a French class and doing a good amount of work beyond class for it.

The key, I think, is that we’re trying to read as much as possible even though our pronunciation is horrible. His is better than mine, but getting consistent in how we want to pronounce things and getting a feel for what makes the language musical is rough.

Still, things are going well-enough that I can already say I’ve learned stuff – at least through the poetry translated – that I won’t easily forget. That’s a marked change from other language classes I’ve had, where the content was aimed at giving a skill, and thus was easily forgotten.

If I had to learn German over again, I would translate Goethe and Rilke from the get-go, and if I had to do Greek, I would do Xenophon. If you’re in a language class, find easy stuff that’s profound – we’re working on Baudelaire currently – and read and figure out the grammar on your own. It’s a struggle now, still, but wow does it feel good to go to your second and third classes of 101 knowing you’ve translated stuff already.

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