by Jules Older
As Effin and I left Vermont for French Immersion Camp in Quebec, I felt scared.
I had reason for fear. I nearly flunked French in high school. I did flunk Latin, got a D in German, just squeaked by Spanish. I kept switching languages in the forlorn hope I'd find one I was good at. I never did.
So why was I voluntarily leaving for seven days of French immersion in La Belle Province? Two reasons.
The most pressing: I edit Canada’s biggest ski magazine, a Quebec-based venture, where every one of my colleagues is bilingual. And while they generously switch to English whenever I'm there, I'm tired of being the only single-language idiot in the room.
The second reason is a fond hope I've clung to since my less-than-stellar experience in high school French/Latin/German/ Spanish. I've always said that the problem wasn’t me; oh, no, the problem was the way language is taught. I claimed (and almost believed) that if I were thrown into an environment where, say, French is spoken—as opposed to parsed, declined, memorized and chopped into small bits—I'd soon be speaking it like a native.
So. Alors. It’s crunch time for my dignity and my theorizing. On to Quebec!