As someone who has tried over the years to learn French, I can certainly empathize with the brain pain and heartbreak of William Alexander in his book Flirting with French. The subtitle says it all: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart.
This is his tale of not only wanting to learn French but really wanting to be French. Before a bike trip through Brittany and Provence with his wife Anne, Mr. Alexander decides to buckle down and learn les mots française. As he is 57 years old, this is not the easiest of tasks and his time spent studying using a Rosetta Stone language course has mixed results.
Once back to America from his trip, he redoubles his efforts to learn his bonjours et bonsoirs. In addition to laughing at his comic struggles with this self-imposed task, I have been treated to, among other things: a brief history of the Battle of Hastings; the quirky workings of the Académie français, the official authority on the French language; and a chapter on his attempts to make croissants from Julia Child's recipe (they were délicieux).
I took two years of French in high school. I have bought and listened to numerous French language instruction tapes, have at least three French-English dictionaries on my bookshelves plus a variety of How to Learn French textbooks, and have taken adult education classes in the language.
I have been twice to Paris on my own and was determined to at least speak a little of the native tongue. I think it paid off although my speaking to someone and my understanding of their response were two different things.
Alas. I am in the same boat (le bateau) as Mr. Alexander. The striving to be fluent in this beautiful language has been more of a dream (I wonder what it is like to dream in French?) than a reality. And yet, I persist.
I am reminded that there is no word in French for seventy, eighty, or ninety. No wonder numbers are so difficult. And don't even get me started on the wacky assignment of gender to words. For example, beard is feminine; chicken is masculine. Go figure.
This book is full of fun and fun facts and le français. Even if you don't speak a word of French (although you know you want to), I think you will find this witty book a treat.
Have you had any experience trying to learn a language as an adult? What were the results?