There’s a Lot of Joy in a Little Bell Ring

I’m coming to French out of necessity. Sometime in the coming months I’m headed to Rwanda to work in a few refugee camps for the American Refugee Committee, and most people will tell you that French is a must in East Africa.

With no time to waste, I ordered Rosetta Stone French Level 1. I popped open the yellow box, loaded the CD, and so far have been through 21 activities. My vocabulary is growing, but I’m learning other things along the way as well. Here are a few:

1. A leap of faith. Language learning starts at the simplest places. A couple of short words, tiny lexical bundles that you roll around on your tongue a bit before spitting them out. You have to dive in, hoping you’ll sound just right. It’s a tiny leap of faith, actually, the first time you greet someone with your new word, “Bonjour!” That brings me to number 2.

2. There’s a lot of joy in a little bell ring. Normally when trying out your first words, you have to drop them in front of real live people who will almost assuredly give you an awkward face before they correct your rolling r or your aspirated consonant. With Rosetta Stone your first attempts are reserved for just you, and when you finally get those new sounds down, a bell rings. Simple satisfaction.

small metal bell

3. It’s right here. Like a little French-speaking friend, Rosetta Stone is available. On my lunch break, while I’m doing laundry, or right after work I can pick up my French.

4. I’ve got a long way to go. My first few lessons have gone smoothly. I can tell you that boys, girls, men, and women are drinking, eating, reading, and swimming. I’ve got a quick handle on the French r. I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve got a long way to go before I can complain about the weather or recap the last episode of Real Housewives. Good thing a lot of lessons are still waiting for me.

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Brent Hines

Brent Hines began traveling the world and engaging in new languages at the age of fifteen; he believes that “learning a new language is like getting keys for a whole new part of the world.” He currently works as a roving correspondent for the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee. Brent has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia, worked in refugee resettlement with the International Refugee Committee, and has lived and worked in Guatemala, India, Panama, and England.
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