Like every quebequer (people from Quebec) my age, my first contact with english was on my first year of high school. I was about 12. To tell the truth, these english classes were very basic and quite boring. It was like 2 hours a week, really insufficient to learn a language thoroughly. I had those classes until the end of high school. My class mates didn’t learn much during those years, they weren’t very interested.
I, on the other hand, was very curious and really, really wanted to learn. So i started to watch television in english, to translate songs i liked and… to do Tadoku even if i didn’t know i was doing it!
I started with pre-schoolers books with only one or two words each page.
As time passed by, i chose books more complicated and by the age of 15 i was able to read Tolkien’s Lord of the rings. I sometimes used a dictionary to help me with some words i didn’t know the meaning of, but i soon discovered that it was better to guess the general meaning instead.
Sadly, when i was a student, immersion classes didn’t exist. My daughter has immersion classes, and i can tell you it is much more effective than regular ones. My son will begin immersion in two years from now, and has actually 3 hours a week of english.
I use english quite often on a daily basis. The books, comics, mangas and magazines i read are either in english or french. Until last year i watched a little english TV and none in french. Right now, all i am watching is in japanese 🙂 But i do a lot of internet surfing in english (in french and spanish too), some of it for business research and some for pleasure. Well, OK, a lot of it for pleasure! What i am lacking, is practice in actually speaking it. But in Toronto i found out that my spoken english wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be. My friend and business partner is from France, but lived in California for at least 6 years and to my surprise, i had to help her in some occasions during our trip. So i guess reading a lot does the trick!
You know what? Exchanging e-mails with you helps me to improve my english. Sometimes i think, oh, i want to tell such and such to Gabaine, and i am actually thinking it IN ENGLISH! I was amazed the other day when i realised hat.