Being from Canada, I’ve always admired those who could speak French fluently. Like many Canadians who did not attend French immersion school, I received roughly 12 years of one-French-class-per-year training, with a year or two of college French tacked on for good measure. I’ve travelled to France, to Québec, and to Saint-Pierre. Can I speak french fluently? Malheureusement, non.
But I can still learn!
Did you know that astronauts have to undergo language training in addition to all the other preparations for heading out into space? These people are busy. I mean really busy. Not just diving underwater in their spacesuits and undergoing microgravity tests and trying to land a simulator without crashing while searching for the meaning of life. They are also preparing to forge bridges of diplomacy in space, meeting and living with astronauts from all over the world up on the ISS, and getting recorded while doing it. Showing humanity some peaceful, co-operative hard work and amusing group activities, while the blue orb hovers in the background. It puts it all into perspective.
While Russian astronauts are learning the English alphabet, American and Canadian astronauts are studying the Cyrillic Alphabet. Like Neil Armstrong (sort of) said, small steps.
There are many ways to learn a new language. You can find your local French (or Japanese, or Spanish) association, and take a night class. You can visit a country. Heck, you can move to a country. Or you can purchase software, and learn at home, on your own time.
The aptly named Rosetta Stone software has helped astronauts with language learning, and is one of the most well known language learning software programs. It is highly visual, and packed with games and features to keep the learning engaging and fun. However, it is a high-end program. A more affordable route may be the popular Rocket Languages Program, which allows users to take a 6-day free online trial without signing up a credit card. Just give them your email address and you can start learning a language today, no strings attached.
- 5 Websites to Learn a Foreign Language Free (madrasgeek.com)
- Polyglot Goodness (ficklefolly.wordpress.com)
- Rosetta Stone Helps Revitalize Inupiaq Language (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)