When it came time to pick which foreign language path I was to traverse in high school, I chose French. Living in California, this was in the minority opinion with such a high Spanish-speaking population. But, I did get an opportunity to use my developing bilingual skills while still in high school. I believe it was the summer of '98, and I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to join my church youth group on a trip to Italy.
We had a considerable layover in Paris, and I got to order everyone's food. Somewhere in between a fractured request for a tuna sandwich and more sodas, this is what happened (in French, but in English, for your enjoyment):
Pierre (or whatever his name was): I don't mean to be rude, but why is the Asian speaking French and not the white people?
Me: Because we're from California, and more students take Spanish classes than French. I'm the only one in the group that is taking French.
Pierre: Interesting. Well, thank you for learning our language.
I didn't do much with French after high school, with the exception of a random phrase here or there whenever speaking a foreign language comes up in conversation. J'aime les pommes de terre. (I like potatoes.)
Just over a couple months ago I heard about Duolingo. It's a free app that sets you up with bite-sized lessons in Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese. I haven't yet cracked any lessons in French, because I chose to start down the path of Espanol since I now have reasons for it to be useful--customer service at work.
I haven't yet used it at work but I have found it wonderfully simple to find a few minutes each day to squeeze in a little Spanish homework. Go ahead, say it, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," but I'm not one to consider myself old, and learning is learning whatever your age is. Je suis un ananas. (I am a pineapple.)
It's fun more days than not, and the biggest challenge has been learning in a different style than what I've normally preferred, but it's still awesome. I've learned more than a few words, and have been able to successfully string together sentences instead of just regurgitating phrases I've memorized.
Yo no leo los diarios. (I don't read newspapers.)
¿Tu bebes cervezas? (Do you drink beer?)
El sombrero azul es para mi abuela. (The blue hat is for my grandma.)
I don't think this is all part of me having "school withdrawals" or subconsciously regretting not going into grad school after finally achieving B.A. status, I think it's just my desire to want to always be learning something. Anyone that says that don't need to learn anything else is essentially saying they know everything, or at least everything they need to know. Either way, that's not my preferred attitude, and I hope I never get to where I'm thinking that myself.
Bonjour, Je m'appelle Marlon. (Hello, my name is Marlon.)
Yo no duermo en una cuna. (I don't sleep in a crib.)
Merci, et bonsoir.
Gracias, y buenas noches.