So I’ve decided to start learning French again. From the ages of 10 – 15 I was taught the basics of the language in school, and actually somehow managed to get a Grade 1 in Standard Grade French (roughly the equivalent of an ‘A’ GCSE – I think). I decided to drop the subject when choosing my Highers, because I always found it an uphill struggle and, frankly, wanted as good grades as possible to place me in better stead for university. I think I regret that decision, now.
My main reasons are, again, pragmatic. If I desire to be a journalist, and if I desire to actually find stories about interesting things around the world (rather than: “Local Cake Festival attracts 200 People! 13% increase!!”), then at least being able to speak the basics of a second language will be absolutely essential. I figured that, with English, French is the language I’d be most likely to encounter around the world. For fun, I rushed together the map to the left of languages you’d be guaranteed to find around the world. There’s a European bias, because, for me, these are more realistic to be learned. I think the combination of English, French and Spanish would be the best choices, as they would open up virtually all of the Americas (I believe Portuguese and Spanish have some mutually intelligibility), Western Europe, Africa, India and Oceania. Although, of course, armed with these languages you would be very likely to find a speaker of at least one wherever you go.
Because I have a basic understanding of French already, learning it now is easier than it would be from scratch. My main methods for learning is the highly useful http://www.duolingo.com as well as the news websites, http://www.lemonde.fr and http://www.bbc.co.uk/afrique . I’m aware that these methods won’t do much to help my speaking of French, which is something I could probably only improve my being in a French-speaking country.
Hopefully this will go well, and not end up abandoned after a few weeks!