Learner Q&A: Why French? Jeremy Baker on Reclaiming Culture
Jeremy joined us on a French-immersion tour of Arnaudville, Louisiana and opened up a little about his family history, Cajun French culture, and his appreciation for French’s versatility worldwide. We hooked him up with an Unlimited Languages subscription for sharing his story with us.
Q: How has choosing to learn French changed your life?
A: Learning French has helped me connect more to the culture and history of my home and family. Although I picked up a few words and phrases throughout my youth, Rosetta Stone has allowed me to fill in a lot of gaps and gain some insight into my heritage.
Q: Why did you choose to learn to speak French?
A: I’ve always been interested in the history of the Acadian people, and when I decided I wanted to learn a second language.
I thought French would be a great way to connect myself with that history and hopefully open some opportunities for travel and my career.
Q: What are your thoughts about your French-immersion tour with Louis Michot?
A: I had an amazing time touring Arnaudville with Louis and my fellow Rosetta Stone learners. I knew there were areas of the state where French was still spoken with some regularity, but actually getting to meet people who not only spoke Cajun French, but who were also passionate about preserving and spreading the language was enlightening.
Q: Can you tell us about your language-learning routine, study habits, or complementary hobbies?
A: For learning with the Rosetta Stone app, I actually like to drive to work a few minutes early and sit out in my car where it’s quiet. I’ll work my way through a couple of the shorter unit lessons or one of the longer core lessons. To supplement and reinforce my learning with Rosetta Stone, I’ve taken to watching movies or playing video games in French. When I started looking into it, I was surprised at how many movies and games had the option to use French audio, subtitles, or both. This has really helped me to parse out the language and retain and understand even more of what I learn with the app.
Q: Can you share a story about speaking French or learning about the culture that led to you understanding it even better?
A: Growing up around Lafayette, in the center of Acadiana, one of my favorite holidays was always Mardi Gras. We’d get off of school for Monday through Wednesday, and everyone would go to the fairgrounds at Cajun Field to ride the carnival rides, listen to live music, and watch the parades. About fifteen years ago, I was living in Baton Rouge with my family, and my brother and I decided to ride to Lafayette to go to Mardi Gras for the first time in a few years. It was early when we got into the city, so we stopped by to visit our great-grandparents (Mom Ruby and Pop Ophie as everyone calls them). When we got to their house our grandmother fixed us all some food and as we sat around their table eating our grandfather started talking about Mardi Gras from when they were young and living in the nearby town of Kaplan. He talked about going out during the day and doing the Chicken Run and that they’d make gumbo with the chickens afterwards. Then he told us how there would be a big dance on Mardi Gras night and he talked about picking up Mom Ruby to take her to the dance.
In addition to being a beautiful story of my personal family history, the biggest thing I took away from Pop’s account of that Mardi Gras was the significance that people’s culture, customs, and language play in their lives.
Q: What’s one thing that anyone interested in learning French should know?
A: I believe one of the most interesting aspects of French is how widespread it is and how it connects to the food, customs, and general culture of the regions it has spread to. The language is just a door to a much larger world.
Feel like sharing your reasons for learning another language? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out @rosettastone or DM us on any social channel.