Back To Learning French!

Learning a new language sounds intimidating at first, but when you finally get into it, you start feeling like you’ll be the go-to person of anyone who wants to know How To Be Cool. How do I know? Because apparently that’s what I’ve been feeling right now. Yup, I feel like a super cool person right now. (High five!)

My native language is Filipino (Tagalog), and second only is English. About three years ago, I’ve installed the mobile app of the language learning tool Duolingo, in the hopes that I’d finally be able to use my free time to learn something useful instead of wasting such time immersed in anxiety-triggering games. So I created an account (it’s free!), chose the French language course, and just started clicking and clicking the Continue button. The next time I knew, I had already passed two checkpoints. See, the system goes like this. It’s like some sort of a tree, divided into checkpoints based on the level of difficulty. The topmost part includes the basic words, phrases, and other easy-to-learn set of words like food, animals, etc. As we go along further down the tree, it gets more complicated as grammar and sentence construction are introduced.

What I like most about Duolingo is that even if you somehow forgot about it (which is unlikely as it has a notification feature), or just lost interest at a moment of weakness and despair, or just simply uninstalled it for no apparent reason, you can still go back to it (assuming you haven’t deleted your account) and strengthen your skills again.

I am on a 4-day streak now, having just reinstalled it three days ago. Over the years I have uninstalled and reinstalled Duolingo and this time, I hope to finally have enough dedication and discipline to maintain my streak and finish my tree. Then maybe after that, I’ll try turning the speaking and listening feature on so I can learn how to speak French (with an accent!) and also, recognize it when I hear them. I have turned off those features because my goal for now is just to read and write French.

Aside from finding something productive to do with my large amount of free time, I’m not really sure why I even bother learning French in the first place. It’s not like I dream on someday visiting France and use my French to order a baguette plus a cup of coffee. But who knows? It may come in handy one of these days. For now, I content myself on seeing the jaws of my family and friends drop as I impress them with my French literacy. According to Duolingo, I am already 23% fluent, which I personally think is bragging rights enough. What more if I finally finish the course and start yammering in French rapidly, accents and all?  I guess they’d shudder to think.

Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive- it’s such an interesting world.

-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Or maybe the reason why I’m bothering with this is because I’m kind of enjoying this challenge I set for myself. Sometimes, I just miss being out there, leaving my comfort zone and pushing myself to the limits. So however little this goal may seem, it still makes me love to wake up, and realize that “Oh, here’s another chance for me to grow and learn something new.” I love myself for never running out of things to look forward to. Maybe that’s why I haven’t got insane yet on being a stay-at-home mom, I am never lonely with myself.

How about you, what other languages do you already know aside from your native one, and how did you learn those? Are you interested in learning a new language too? If so, what language is it and why? I’d love to hear some language-learning stories too so feel free to talk about it with me!

Merci et bonne journée!

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Hygge (/Hue-gah/)

All my life I’ve been searching for this one word which can describe the happy, content feeling I feel whenever I am with the people I love or just by myself. Don’t quite picture what I mean?

I lay in my dormitory bed, with the lights turned off, and only a lampshade and twinkle lights to light the paperback novel I’m reading, twiddling with a loose thread from my cotton pyjamas.

I lean at the wall on our kitchen entryway to watch my family (Mama, Papa, my son and his Daddy) gather round for my birthday dinner, slicing cakes and carving chicken, the smell of butter lingering.

I lost in our rock-paper-scissors game so it’s me who should make the hot chocolate downstairs. I tell my darling to pause the movie we’re watching and not play it until I come back up but he still played it while I was away so I tickle/wrestle/strangle him under the sheets, hot choco and movie forgotten, and ended up lying next to each other to catch our breaths.

I let my son sit on my lap so I can smell the top of his head as he silently reads his favorite book, and all I can hear is him turning pages and the white noise of our fan.

I sit by the window on a bus ride home so I can let the wind blow my hair crazy as I daydream.

That, my friends, is hygge.

It is a Danish word which doesn’t have a direct translation to English, but can be linked to the words warm, coziness, charm, kinship, contentedness, reassurance…

A quick Google search led me to a site called Hygge House, and I love the way the word hygge is described:

Hygge is about being present enough to recognize and acknowledge an act, moment or feeling when the ordinary feels extraordinary.

And if not for Quinn, I wouldn’t have discovered this word. Check out her post which introduced me to this long-lost treasure of a word (Hail! I’ve finally found the accurate term!). She writes so well, yes? Who wouldn’t be inspired…

Let’s start February right!
Let’s all go live the hygge life! Hiya!