Flirting With French

Flirting With French

How A Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, & Nearly Broke My Heart

Book - 2014
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"A delightful and courageous tale and a romping good read. Voila! " --Mark Greenside, author of I'll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)

William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There's one small obstacle though: he doesn't speak la langue française. In Flirting with French, Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back?

Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence, where, faced with the riddle of masculine breasts, feminine beards, and a turkey cutlet of uncertain gender, he starts to wonder whether he should've taken up golf instead of French. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the riotous workings of the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it's harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator.

Does he succeed in becoming fluent? Readers will be as surprised as Alexander is to discover that, in a fascinating twist, studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.

"A blend of passion and neuroscience, this literary love affair offers surprise insights into the human brain and the benefits of learning a second language. Reading William Alexander's book is akin to having an MRI of the soul." --Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of Sleeping Arrangements

"Alexander proves that learning a new language is an adventure of its own--with all the unexpected obstacles, surprising breakthroughs and moments of sublime pleasure traveling brings." --Julie Barlow, author of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina :, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,, 2014
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 9781616200206
Branch Call Number: 448.3421 ALE
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 21 cm


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Apr 09, 2017

This book is way more that about learning a second language.
William Alexander proves to be quite an investigator into the mystery of languages and their relationship to our brains.
His disguised “novice” approach, full of genuine good humor, would actually delight, please and educate the reader concerning historical facts about language, traditions, emotions and turning points into the development of main languages and linguistics.
An excellent book to tease your intellect!

Nov 27, 2016

Fun, insightful, delightful. If you're interested in second language acquisition, especially French, or in France, you may enjoy the author's account of his struggles to become fluent in French. He's bright, educated, a published author in his mid-fifties, and a hard worker, but polishing up his speaking ability in his second language was not going well for him. He analyzes the Whys, and in the process, learns quite a lot about himself, as well as about France and French. I loved it; as soon as I'd finished reading it I started it all over again.

Oct 14, 2016

charming little book about learning a second language. He covers his efforts, studies on adult learning, language acquisition, the history of the French language, and his anxieties. And most of it is pretty funny!

mikelindq Dec 22, 2014

Engaging, entertaining, and funnier than Peter Mayle's writings on life in Provence. Highly recommended.

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