Tuesday, April 14, 2020

L for Learning - My favourite things to counter COVID-19 stress

(This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. I am writing this month on activities that keep me refreshed during these depressing days. It's Day 12 today.)

Learning -- obviously something new -- is among the most positive activities one can indulge in. Nothing more ideal in these trying times.

I am not very good at learning new languages. But I have picked up a few besides my mother tongue Malayalam and English.

Since my career took me to Bhopal and Indore, I learnt Hindi as well. I was in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Hyderabad. There I learnt Gujarati and Telugu. Since I haven't been using them, I have lost touch. Now I am in Bengaluru and I have learned Kananda.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE 

Among foreign languages, I had a fascination for French, right from childhood. Many reasons for that.

One, there are many words in English that are either borrowed from French or have some French connection. That sparked my interest. Two, during my college days in Thiruvananthapuram, I used to go to international film festivals, during which I could watch some good French movies. Three, the language is very pleasant to hear. Four, I remember, former prime minister Indira Gandhi speaking in French during a visit to France. That was very impressive, I thought.

When I came to Hyderabad in the late nineties, the Alliance Francaise, the French cultural embassy, wasn't too far from where I stayed. I thought that was the perfect chance to learn the language I was so fascinated with. During the three years, I was in Hyderabad, I managed to come up to the pre-diploma level. I couldn't complete the diploma level since I moved to Bengaluru.

PICKING UP FROM WHERE I LEFT

It's now 21 years since then. Though I can't now write an essay in French as I could then, if you throw me into a French-only speaking people, I will be able to manage, with some difficulty.

Now the lockdown has presented me with an opportunity to pick up from where I left 21 years ago.

I downloaded Duolingo, and now I am spending about 30 minutes every day on different lessons. Unlike 20 years ago, there is now plenty of reading material, very easily accessible, on the internet to practise. Plus, there is the France 24 TV channel. In addition to all these, I have my French grammar books and the French-French dictionary still with me.

Duolingo provides a very engaging method of learning. There are different levels. You gather points for completing different levels within a specified time. Plus, there is a section called 'stories', wherein a story is narrated sentence by sentence, with small exercises along the way. I am loving this absolutely. Let me see how far I can go.

Maybe one day, there will be a blog post in French! (Don't worry, I will provide an English translation!)

19 comments:

  1. You're amazing! My attempt to learn Japanese via "Rosetta Stone" software didn't go so well. Then again, my bosses never brought me along to the parent company offices in Tokyo anyway. ~sigh~ Perhaps I should try these newer learning options for a fun diversion. Thank you for sharing and take care.

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    1. Hi Darla - Duolingo is a good one. Available both as a mobile app as well on the web browser. I am not sure if Japanese is available.

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  2. Hari OM
    I love language - it informs one so much of the culture which is its base, as much as communicates intent and need... a commendable pastime! YAM xx

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    1. Hi Yamini - Yes, it's a window to a different world.

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  3. Ahhhh. I thought you know Tamil. Wanted write you an email in Tamil. I am disappointed. Just kidding.

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  4. There's a blogger I follow who writes her posts in French and English. She mostly posts about quilting.

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  5. I had downloaded DuoLingo a few years ago and used it to help my son with his French lessons. During this lock-down break, I have learnt to bake a new cake recipe and explored the nitty gritties of trainings on Zoom, and learning some things about Pinterest!

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    1. Hi Shilpa - Wow! that's nice. A good time now to learn new skills.

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  6. Bonjour mon ami. Biend dit.
    Learning a new language opens up new frontiers for sure. In these times of lockdown its a good idea to be involved in investing in enriching self.
    I am learning French too. Duo Lingo is a good app. I use the app "Reverso" for understanding the forms of the verbs apart from their meaning and their usage.
    A bientot !
    - Its L for 'Life on Other Side" at https://canvaswithrainbow.com/life-on-other-side/

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    1. Allo Anagha! - Très bien! I haven't heard of Reverso. Will check out. Merci!

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  7. What a good idea to learn a language. I would love to learn Spanish and Italian. I learned German at University so I can read and understand bits and pieces. I can read, write and speak English (of course) Hindi and Marathi and I speak Gujarati.

    Suzy Someday Somewhere Letter L

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    1. Hi Suzy - Both Spanish and Italian are on DuoLingo. You must check that out.

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  8. You say you're good with languages but you know a truckload of them Pradeep. Wow! essays in French. Very impressive indeed.
    My sister is using Duolingo to learn Spanish and she's doing really well.
    I may give it a go in May.
    Thank you.

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    1. Hi Arti - No, I can't write an essay in French now. I was forced to do that when I was studying. Now after 20 years I have forgotten most of it. Hope to be able to, again, one day. Thank you.

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  9. Wow, I'm really impressed! A long time ago, I was reasonably good with Latin and ancient Greek. I had a huge obsession with Greco-Roman history and mythology growing up. But when I got older, I got lazy, and so I can't really read those languages anymore.

    French is a language I'd really like to learn. It sounds so pretty, even though I have no idea what people are saying.

    https://planetpailly.com/2020/04/14/litho-colony-tomorrow-news-network-a-to-z/

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    1. Hi James - The problem with language is that if we don't use it, we tend to forget it.

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  10. Oui, excellente idée, écris un article entièrement en français ! Je suis impressionnée par le nombre de langues que tu connais, et parle. Bravo, parce que le français n'est pas une langue facile.
    Ok then, for your visitors, I will continue in English ;) Learning a new language is fun, and sometimes usefull ;)
    L is for Landscapes

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  11. I've been using duolingo to learn Spanish for a couple of years, and I love it! Not sure if I could squeak by on what I know now to speak it, I might understand if someone spoke very slowly. I do see I've come a long way since the beginning but a long way to go. I hope to visit a Spanish speaking country some day and try it out.

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    1. Hi Jade - I am sure you will be pick up quite a bit of Spanish soon.

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