For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying, off and on, to learn to read French. If you were to subtract all the “off” time from those couple of years, you’d probably find I’ve spent about two or three months in daily study, and that study has focused almost entirely on learning to read French, not listen to, speak, or write it. (This is mainly because I can’t afford to take classes or buy expensive CDs.)
As you can imagine, my progress has been slow.
But after about six months off, I jumped back in last month, using the wonders of much-hyped technology. I’m pulling down French-language podcasts, for example, so that I can learn the sounds of native voices. I can’t make out, yet, much of what the speakers are saying, but it’s still helpful.
And late yesterday, I subscribed to the RSS feed of the French newspaper Le Monde, thinking I could learn a little just by reading newspaper articles. Again, my idea is to see the language in its natural context.
Most of what I saw yesterday was mundane–a few articles about the Tour de France and whatnot. But today brought news that Scotland Yard has started rounding up suspects in last week’s terrorist bombings in London. Moreover, the blurb on Le Monde was the first place I saw the story.
Which means I’ve read important news in a foreign language before seeing it in my own. That’s pretty cool.