Language in Bloom

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Return of the language student

I’m back in two language classes after not officially being enrolled in a language class since… 2006? And I think then I was just auditing a Portuguese class. I can’t even be certain of the year. In any case, clearly it’s been too long since I had the opportunity to be a language student, and I couldn’t be more excited. My situation with French is pretty different from that of Italian; I have practically zero experience with French unless you count that semester elective Introduction to Foreign Languages in the 7th grade (I don’t).

There are only three of us in the French 1 class, and both of my classmates have considerably more experience with French, but for the most part I can tell what the instructor says based on 1) context and 2) knowing the usual progression in language class topics and 3) having studied other languages. My accent is atrocious since I am so used to speaking Spanish, but in just two classes (and some Duolingo and practice in between) I can definitely say I know more than I did just 9 days ago. It’s refreshing to be taking a class and just take everything in, as opposed to organizing a class myself to deliver material as a teacher.

Italian is different because I studied it in college, and off and on have tried to recuperate and maintain my level of proficiency. It comes back fairly quickly, especially since my instructor is very adamant about using only Italian in class. Being surrounded by Italian, no exceptions, during an entire sixty-minute period does wonders for my progress, and the work I do in between classes serves as a continuous refresher for what I used to know.

In both classes, I’ve been enjoying having an hour to feed my curiosity about the world, and letting experts guide my linguistic adventures. Since learning both these languages, and other languages in general, have always been fun for me, these two hours I spend in class serve to relax me in a way that other “structured ‘me’ time” (e.g. exercise) has never really achieved. All in all, I’m thrilled with getting to be a language student again – I don’t know what took me so long!

Shenandoah Valley Language Services School

The site of my language endeavors: Shenandoah Valley Language Services, the language school I opened last year


Written by

Tammy Bjelland
Language lover, teacher & coach.

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