Friday, April 16, 2010

Le Petit Prince - learning the words

As a high schooler I was required to take a foreign language. I'm not sure if that is the case now but it was when my boys were in high school. If they wanted to go to college that is. Which they did. Because we said so.

The languages taught at Auburn High in the mid-seventies were Spanish, German, and French. I took French. Why? Why, does any teenage girl take French because it's romantic. Because maybe, if the moon is the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars our mothers will let us go backpacking through the French countryside after high school. Yeah, right! That happened.

I can't remember the French teacher's name because we were never allowed to call her anything except Madame. Madame was a stout old woman. Well, we thought she was old. She couldn't have been too young because 30 years before she was in a concentration camp in Germany. She proudly displayed the tattoo that the Nazis stamped onto her wrist. It made us afraid of her. Very afraid. I think she liked that.

One of the assignments was to pick a French children's book to read. I choose Le Petit Prince.

It turned out to be my favorite book. I read it over and over again for many many years. I took special care to learn all the words, all the meanings of the words. This one book helped me to speak French better than any of the 4 years of French classes I'd ever take. Learning the words would have been harder if I hadn't had this book to learn by. Those French, they have different words for almost everything.

And the illustrations aren't too bad either.

If you are trying to learn a new language my advice would be to start watching children's shows and start reading children's books in that language. It worked for me. And while I am no longer fluent in French I can still read it fairly well.

I'm fairly lame when it comes to participating in the Spin Cycle but I think this qualifies. That right Jen?


PS: The book has been translated into English if you don't want to have to learn French to read it but what I will say is that reading children's book in a foreign language is the best way to learn.


  1. I took three years of Latin and two years of German. Everytime I hear the French language I think of Rene Descartes. That makes me angry, because I loathe Rene Descartes. Cheers Michele!!

  2. I have read this book in English and liked the lesson of it. And yes, this completely counts! (If you had just written a post in general about how the wind blows, it would count!)
    You're linked!

  3. I woold like to go to zee 'otel.

    Always good to find another Steve Martin fan.

  4. I have never read The Little Prince in French, but it's been one of my faves since I was 15.

  5. The one language I have always wanted to learn was French. Good suggestion on the 'how to' part! Great Spin! :)

  6. Maybe those of us whose first name is spelled a la French, take French, mais oui?

    My boys will all take Spanish because it is more "useful". Here you must take at least two years of a language in high school as GA colleges require at least two years of a language.

  7. I have always been told, if you want to learn a foreign language, talk to a child. They will have no problem correcting you while adults don't want to hurt your feelings and will let you make mistakes all over the place.

  8. I've been studying Spanish for over a year and I'm reading a Pat Cornwall bk in spanish and boy am I learning A LOT.

    Also, I carry flashcards with me with that help tremendously

  9. I read this in English, tried French I just couldn't get it.