Fear stalked me for a long time in language learning. When I started learning French as a teenager, I was extremely self-conscious, battered down by criticism of my appearance, and desperately afraid to speak in public. This was not conducive to practicing a new language, where mistakes are inevitable. I limited my utterances to the … Continue reading What am I afraid of?
If you've ever tried to learn German, you know that it has some peculiar features. Some of these don't bother me that much, like piled-up consonant clusters, umlauts, and irregular verbs, but others make me want to tear my hairs out. Here are five of the things that I could definitely do without, auf Deutsch. … Continue reading Five things that bug me about German
By definition, language requires more than one party to be involved; it's about communication and interaction between people, not a solo performance. So it might seem impossible to teach yourself a language. Don't you need a class, or at least a teacher? With the resources available to us today, though, you can come quite far … Continue reading Can you teach yourself a language?
Image: Sleeping Hermaphroditus, Louvre; Roman copy of a Hellenistic original. Source I have a feeling that most of the mistakes I make in French and German have to do with not knowing or not remembering the gender of a noun, and thus the associated changes that have to be made in articles and adjectives. I … Continue reading Should language have gender?
Is it possible to learn two languages at once? I don't know what the research says, but it would seem to me that probably one at a time would be more effective. However, living as I do between the French and German parts of Switzerland, I don't have much choice. I have to speak French … Continue reading Doublespeak
Dear friends, as I wrote in Moving and changing, some changes are coming to this blog. As a part of that, I'm starting a new venture called Enchanted English where I can offer language lessons and literary services. To drum up some interest from English learners, I wrote a little booklet called HOW TO READ … Continue reading Enchanted English is launched!
Life in Switzerland does require some adjustments. For example, there are things one routinely finds in the grocery store here that one does not in the States, some more welcome than others: Quince Venison Quark Chestnut paste 8 zillion kinds of chocolate bars And there are the things one doesn't find, and that I miss: … Continue reading Other tongues
Words have always been magic for me. From the time I learned to read (well before my first conscious memory), they have held the key to my understanding of the world around me and of my own inner experiences. The realms of enchantment and wonder spoken of through fairy tales, myths, poetry, and works of … Continue reading Beyond words