Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart

Posted by nliakos on August 17, 2018

by William Alexander (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014)

At the age of 56, Bill Alexander decided he was going to learn French. At about the same time, he grappled with some serious cardiac issues. (That’s the heartbreak part.) Predictably, learning French, and particularly at his age, proved to be…difficult. One might even say, not possible, since Alexander’s goal was to become fluent in the language. He didn’t. Along the way, he tried different strategies, including online tutors and conversation partners, CD-ROMs, actual classes, and a two-week immersion at a school in France. None of these provided the miracle he was searching for (as I could have told him). Nevertheless, he persisted (!), and he did make some progress with the language.

Having studied French (at a younger age!) and lived in France for several years, and having taught English as a Second Language for over forty years, I was not surprised by anything Alexander wrote about language acquisition (and failure to acquire), but I enjoyed the story and learned some interesting tidbits about French idioms, the history of the language, and the culture.

French-speaking English language learners would enjoy this book.

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