Language training


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Meaghan Beattie and giant pumpkin

My command of French has been in long-term decline since I graduated from elementary school and left the immersion program – with upticks in facility corresponding to some university courses and the Summer Language Bursary Program. Now, I am considering options to get back in stride a bit. I considered taking courses at Oxford, but lacked the time, money, and immediate reason for doing so.

One possibility I am considering is Rosetta Stone: interactive language software used by a number of branches of the American government and military. Buying the software is quite expensive but, due to an odd quirk, you can get access for $30 a year by getting a library card in Chattanooga. Has anyone used this software? I have seen mixed reviews, and am not sure if it is the best choice to resurrect my lumbering zombie French. I hear that the software is quite engaging, but also that it lacks cultural sensitivity and sometimes teaches words that are technically correct but rare in popular usage. Also, it is presumably focused on Parisian French rather than the Quebecois variety – though I might be forgiven for seeing the appeal of the former type of pronounciation, if only because it might be more easily understood when visiting other French-speaking parts of the world.

Other ideas would be appreciated. I really dislike listening to the radio, so French language news is largely out as a refresher possibility.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Maddie October 15, 2007 at 6:33 pm

I loved using Rosetta Stone to learn Kiswahili, and I’d strongly recommend it to someone in the same position. I found that the pronunciations were fabulous, and saw me through many an unpleasant situation. Then again, I was a complete beginner, so I don’t know if it would be as helpful if you already have a grounding in the language. As for learning French French vs. the Quebecois 1700-esq distortion of a beautiful language, I trust that you’ll make the right choice on your own.

Anon @ Wadh October 15, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Did you ever read Greg Bear’s “Eon?”

In it, there are library terminals that can teach you any language in a few hours, leaving you as fluent as a native speaker.

I would sell my soul for one of those…

Tristan Laing October 16, 2007 at 2:27 am

I find it hard to believe that your French is worse than mine, which really isn’t so bad. You’ve had a lot more training more recently. Perhaps the software is good, but also you work in Quebec. I think its time for some self-directed immersion.

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