Monday, February 8, 2010

Je m'appelle Mike

The new year clanks into life and that can only mean one thing: back to school. In my case, that means French classes on Saturday morning.

This is, I think, the fifth year that I have been learning. Seems like forever, which is strange because I hardly command the language. In fact, I'm still at lower high school level. Get through this and I could enrol at VCE level. No thanks, I have quite enough stress already.

Back in the class on Saturday with some familiar faces and some new ones, I felt the anxiety levels rise instantly. I kind of stage fright takes over.

But I can't imagine not studying. I am this stage of beginning to read reasonably. Not reasonably well, but I can read for sense. Which is progress on a year or two. I lapse into franglais at moments of doubt and it's my aim this year to do away that habit as much as possible. If that fails, well, there is always large hand gestures. But I still have a long way to go.

I spent the summer revising and going back to absolute basics. A really useful podcast that I stumbled upon (actually, my daughter found it) is the Verbcast. It's designed as pilot program for high school students in the UK and uses relaxation and visualisation techniques. So effective are these methods that the first three times I tried I fell asleep. Something about the offer to imagine a isolated beach in the south of France, waves lapping the ankles. Breathe in through the mouth, and out through the nose. Shut everything else out of your mind. Zzzzzz.

Verbcast uses a simple and consistent method to introduce conjugations of the most common verbs. Very effective it has been. Overcoming a feeling of anxiety is for me one of the most important steps in learning and this one helps - a lot. You can download Verbcast for free at iTunes.