I’ve sent out my latest novel and am waiting to hear back. This means I have a break from writing. I’m using the extra time to polish up my foreign language skills. I study French and German but find German much more difficult, probably because I’d already developed a working knowledge of French before starting German.
For me, language study pass through four (approximate) stages:
- Words and phrases. An exciting phrase because everything’s new. This stage may seem simple, but a person can communicate with just a few words.
- Phrases and sentences. Less exciting, as it demands a study of grammar. I would say that this is where I am now with German – i.e. getting confused with things like accusative endings (e.g.der and den).
- Paragraphs and ideas. Demanding but satisfying, requiring an understanding of verb tenses. I believe I’m at this stage in French. It’s enjoyable, but extremely meticulous, requiring loads of practice.
- Pages and presentations. My ultimate aim for both languages.
Of course, these stages are only approximates. In my case, they do not include written language study, but then my primary interest lies in conversation.
At some point, hopefully, fluency will flow.