Despite the fact that I’m back in the US at the moment, I am all-to-aware that the next year is going to involve a lot of travel (I’ll pause while you gasp in shock). We’ll be in French-speaking Quebec for a few races this summer, and next fall and winter will be more Euro travel. While I had a blast this past season spending time in Europe, I realized quickly that the few years of French I took in high school were not going to do me any good in The Netherlands. I spent time in Holland, Belgium, France and Spain and after the first trip, I knew that if I wanted to navigate the landscape easier, having at least one language up my sleeve would be really, really helpful. So, my 2016 resolution has been to improve my French. Most Belgians speak at least a bit, and for many of the people I encountered at shops and restaurants, communication was easier in my broken French than it was in my English. So, time to step up my French-speaking game. (This will also be helpful in Quebec, where in some of the northern cities, they really, really prefer speaking French, and I hate feeling like an idiot.)
It also helps when you write about cycling, since most live-feeds, announcers and early race reports are written in French.
So, this edit is focused on my language learning quest!
Love this // Duolingo. I’ve been trying for years to start a regular daily habit of practicing another language (almost always French). I’ve tried Rosetta Stone a million times, I’ve tried classes on iTalki, I’ve tried just studying books. But until I ran across Duolingo, nothing stuck. This free app, though, is awesome! You can do it on a computer or on your phone with their nifty app, and it’s kind of like game-ifying language learning. And it combines reading with speaking and writing, so you’re not just learning how words look, you have to actually talk. Which is my main issue—I can comprehend and read a decent amount, but I get shy trying to stumble through pronunciation, so this has been super helpful. Plus, it’s fun and you want to keep reaching new levels!
Get this // Texture by Next Issue. So, in addition to using DuoLingo to try to learn French, I also added in reading French magazines. That could get expensive, but luckily, I already had the Texture app. It’s $10 per month for access to hundreds of magazines (new and back issues!), which is amazing for a journalist who a) travels a ton so can’t subscribe to print versions, b) loves reading all kinds of magazines, from sports to fashion to photography and c) who doesn’t always have great internet (you can download and store issues so you don’t need to be online to read). This app made flying back and forth to Europe a lot easier, and helps pass the time. But it also has a few French Canadian magazines, and I’ve started downloading them and scanning through. The context clues with photos makes reading it a lot easier to comprehend than just reading a book (but that’s the next goal). Anyway, it’s definitely helping!
Eat this // OK, so it’s not really ‘eat’ this, but I’ve been taking a magnesium supplement lately to try to keep my leg cramps calmed down and to help me get a good night of sleep and I really think it’s helping, especially since we’ve been moving around so much and sleeping in so many different places lately! Anyone else have any experience with magnesium supplements?
Get excited for this // It wasn’t much of a break for us, since mountain bike season is kicking off in the US in a couple weeks, but we’ve had a bit of time to enjoy sunshine and bike riding in SoCal. That said, the travel schedule is starting to come together for 2016 and it’s going to be full of serious adventure, so stay tuned!
If you have any language learning tips you’ve used, I am all ears! LMK in the comments.