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The other day I updated my Facebook status to say that my “old man advice” for youngsters would be that they should learn to a speak language(s) other than their native tongue. Rebecca and I are taking our own advice and have been diligently studying French for the past two weeks.

When I tell people that we have been working on how to speak French, non-Canadians are often quick to ask why we don’t already know how to speak the language, given that we are required to study it all the way through public school. Good question. I’d like an answer to that as well! Could it be that whatever method they use for teaching language in school doesn’t work? I base that statement on the fact that I have been able to learn more usable, conversational language (Spanish and Portuguese) in a month’s worth of once per day, half-hour Pimsleur lessons, than I did in years and years of mandatory classroom study!

Anyway, Rebecca and I are enjoying being able to practice our new vocabulary with one another. I suspect this new skill will come in handy on the French islands where we’ve always felt at a bit of a disadvantage not being able to effectively communicate with the residents.

The French-English translation app on our iPad is helpful too.


  1. I would have thought you could practice your new linguistic skills in Saint Martin. Or are you now in Sant Maarten? Either way, they probably all speak English! 🙂


  2. I completely agree and would add one thought. Some (much??) of what I DID NOT learn in high school had something to do with my lack of interest and/or lack of understanding about why it was important/useful. In other words, I was a stinking teenager that already knew everything!! 🙂

  3. You may also want to try You can access it online, it’s free, very entertaining and, according to many people, works. They also have a free iPhone app, but I guess you won’t be using that one 🙂 Besides French, other languages available include Spanish, German, Portuguese and Italian.

    Au revoir,


  4. The problem with learning a foreign language in school is that they teach you to say things such as ” Where is my red hat?” and “Monique has a small brown dog”. Not necessarily the most useful of phrases. The good news is that after taking French in college I can reliably ask where the library is and offer up praise for Pierre’s croissants. That is about all.

    • After 30 days of doing Pimsleur’s Brazilian Portuguese course I was able to function as “translator” for our friends when we travelled to Brazil. I know now that I was likely speaking primarily in present tense but I could be understood. Future lessons improved upon that greatly. Of course, now that I haven’t worked on it in a long time, I have forgotten most of what I learned. We should have a lot more opportunities to speak French down here than Portuguese or even Spanish.

  5. Et, en voyant le titre de votre poste, je pensais que j’allais le lire completement en francais !! (wink, wink, LOL) Now if only there were a french translation for LOL !! KUDOS to you both on learning something new, that’s always inspirational !

  6. Hi Mike and Rebecca,
    “rs” is short for “risos” (laughs)…hence “rsrsrs”… 🙂 The French equivalent would be “mdr”, short for “mort de rire” (dying of laughter)… but everybody still understands LOL.. 🙂

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