An exhibit, exposition, at Musée de la Civilization in Quebec City on fairy tales. Like visits to les bibliothèques (previous post), children’s shows are a source for my French learning (not to mention just plain fun). Here children got to wear fairy tale costumes and play in fairy tale structures including a mini witch's cottage. My notebook, le carnet, served as a place to jot down expressions and vocabulary as well as images. At the museum in Québec, signs in the exhibits are usually in English and French, so it's like reading French with a large bi-lingual dictionary!
When practicing a new language or traveling abroad adults can return to a childlike state, experiencing freshness and newness which, in turn, opens the senses. But refugees learn new languages out of necessity rather than for play. The film Mao’s Last Dancer beautifully portrays the communication struggles that immigrants can experience, along with culture shock and other difficulties. My family of origin learned new languages for survival in harsh circumstances, as well as for delight.
When I return from a trip where I have had to work hard communicating in my other languages, I marvel at the smooth and fast way that English rolls out of my mouth and at how I shop, ask directions and do business with such ease! I relish the way I can effortlessly read books for adults where I only have to look up an occasional word rather than what, in a French book, can be quite a considerable number.