It has seemed of late that the only French I could remember was this: “Je m’appelle David. J’ai étudié de Français pour cinq ans, mais j’ai oublié ma français.” I’m David. I studied French for five years, but I forgot my French. I probably butchered that sentence, too.
Second languages can fade if you don’t practice speaking them and listening to them. And so there is much to gain — and regain — from the Columbia Association’s (CA) World Languages Café.
The World Languages Café is hosted on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the second-floor café in Wegmans, a grocery store located at 8855 McGaw Road in east Columbia. It runs from 7 to 9pm, but people can drop in and out at their leisure, and they can even visit a variety of tables where different languages are being spoken.
During my visit, the languages available included Arabic, French, Hebrew, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and even English. These tables are for those who want to speak a language they already know or are learning, to increase their fluency by speaking and listening, to meet others who enjoy learning languages, to pick up useful phrases to use when traveling — or even to recall a childhood language.
I started just by listening to those speaking in our sizable group, retraining my ears to recognize syllables and words and then translating them in my mind. Eventually I joined in as best as I could. After all, my French classes were in middle and high school during the ’90s, and then for one semester of college all the way back in 2005.
Words and phrases began to come back, little by little. It was good practice and made me want to revisit the language. Studying is important, but speaking and hearing the words are key. The World Languages Café is a great idea. I left feeling — how do you say — très heureux. Very happy.
Learn more about upcoming World Languages Cafes and other multicultural programs hosted by CA at ColumbiaAssociation.org/Multicultural.
What language would you like to learn or re-learn, and why? Let us know in the comments section.