So far the only second language I master after Indonesian is English. Yet the mastery of this one particular English language has brought me priceless treasures: knowledge and information that have changed the way I view and understand the world. My world was no longer the same the day I started to learn the language.
However, my brain needs more exercises. French, the most widely spoken language after English, can be a good one. Indeed, learning a new language is one way of slowing down our brain decay. The saying rings true: “either you use it or loose it”.
Mastering French will open a completely new different world of understanding of French cultures and customs. Besides, as the second most widely used language in the world, it may afford us the opportunity to travel to more parts of the world with more confidence, especially in Africa and Middle East, because we are able to speak the language spoken in countries we visit to.
It is true that you can use English wherever you are in the world, all over the world without problem, in fact. But not in France.
Once, I came to visit Paris. People are also friendly there, for sure. But once you speak English, forget it. You are on your own. I thought it was that they just do not speak the language. But, case of comparison, when I was in Rome, it was entirely different: people are more helpful with their limited English. So I assume this is the French problem.
But this is not the motivation to learn French. Not because someday I may return to Paris. As have been stated, the motive besides cultural understanding, communication and travelling is mainly to keep this brain of mine active and not to fail me before its due time. But why it is French and not, say, Arabic, Chinese or other languages? Are not these languages also can exercise our brain as learning French can? The answer lies to the fact that there is limit in terms of time and brain capacity. Priority comes first.
In fact, I have been self-studying the language. As have been done with English, I, first of all, memorise important, day-to-day words and basic grammar. And thank kindness, being rooted into the same Indo-European languages, mastering French is easier than, say Arabic or Chinese, as both languages share many similar words and the grammars follow similar patterns.
Now is the time to intensify and be more serious about learning the language, lest my brain fails me faster than I expect.
(Jakarta, December 08, 2006)