A Lesson in Education

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I had an unusual linguistic upbringing. Growing up, I heard mostly Greek at home (I spoke a mix of Greek and English). I also lived in a French province for the first nine years of my life. When I started school, it was at an English school, with French lessons starting in grade 1 (we eventually moved to an anglophone province, and I continued taking French until I graduated). My mom taught me the basics in Greek, and I had a very small amount of Greek school on weekends (I don’t think it amounted to a full year).

I never heard French at home, except when flipping past the French channels on TV. I never had anyone to speak French with outside of classes, and I only occasionally read anything in French. But I heard Greek constantly, spoke it often, and read and wrote it occasionally. I’d have conversations all the time with older relatives (granted, they did most of the talking, but I still felt I had a solid grasp of Greek). If anyone asked I would have said I was fluent in Greek and knew some French.

Then I decided to take lessons.

a lesson in education, blog post, aspasia s. bissas. classes, lessons, school, learning, homeschooling, unschooling, french, languages, france, greek, aspasiasbissas.com
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I had a language learning app taking up space on my phone, so I finally decided to give it a try to see if it was worth hanging on to. I chose French as the language to learn since I’d been wanting to improve my skills for a while. The app starts off by testing you to see how much you know. I breezed through the test and got to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remembered and how easy much of it was (that said– keeping track of the gender of words and then adjusting all the words in a sentence accordingly is exhausting).

L’homme est canadien (the man is Canadian)
La femme est canadienne (the woman is Canadian)
Les hommes sont canadiens (the men are Canadian)
Les femmes sont canadiennes (the women are Canadian)*

 

(*These aren’t even the most complicated examples– wait until you need to start describing inanimate objects…)

It was great to find out that I wasn’t as bad at French as I thought. And since it was going so well, I decided I’d might as well improve my Greek while I was at it.

Considering Greek is technically my first language (I started picking up English as a toddler), that initial test was not as easy as I expected. Unlike with French, I did not get to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I discovered I didn’t even know some basics– my vocabulary and spelling are much worse than I realized (but at least my conjugation is good).

After a few minutes on the app, I realized I knew only some Greek and quite a bit more French than I’d assumed. Not what I expected.

It turns out the formal French lessons that I had in school made an impression that’s stuck with me decades later. Meanwhile, learning Greek mostly by “osmosis” let me down. There’s something positive to be said about rote learning and formal education, after all.

My years of absorbing Greek haven’t totally gone to waste. The knowledge I’ve picked up has definitely made the app lessons easier (I’m seriously impressed by anyone who can learn this language from scratch). Since starting the lessons, however, I’ve already seen a major improvement, especially in spelling, vocabulary, and reading. I’m probably only up to an Elementary School level of proficiency so far,  but I finally feel that I’m getting a real grasp on the language I’ve known all my life.

A lesson in education, blog post, aspasia s. bissas, french, greek, france, greece, school, classes, learning, rote memorization, homeschooling, unschooling, formal education, aspasiasbissas.com
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As someone who’s always been more inclined to learn on my own rather than take a class, this has been eye opening. It’s amazing the difference that actual lessons can make. I’m excited to keep using the app, not only to keep learning French and Greek, but also to expand on my two years of high-school Spanish, and– hopefully– to learn a new language or two. The next time I’m tempted to learn something new, I think I’m going to find a class to take instead of assuming I can figure it out myself.

How about you– have you taken any classes lately, or are there any you want to take? Share in the comments…

Find out what I can do with language (including a bit of French) by getting my books 🙂

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

7 More Words About Books

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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Of all the words in the English language, some of the best ones (yes, they’re ranked) are about books and reading. Here are seven of them…

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Don’t we all have that one book we really meant to return? Wait– is it just me?

 

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

If only my TBR were this small…

 

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Well, I’ve certainly never done that. Nope, not the kind of thing I do at all, or ever would.

 

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Everyone seems to love the smell of books, but I’m strangely immune. I feel like I’m missing out.

 

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

I’m a happy member of this club ♥

 

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

Always take a book with you (clutching it to your chest is optional).

 

7 Words About Books, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

All readers know this fear.

 

What do you think– can you relate to any of these? Share in the comments…

You might also like my last “Words About Books” post.

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

 

Wordy: 10 Beautiful Words

gray magnifying glass and eyeglasses on top of open book
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It’s probably no surprise to anyone that writers love words, and I’m no exception. I have words I like, words that annoy me, and a few that stand out as favourites. Here are ten words that I think are some of the most beautiful in the English language…

10 beautiful words, meander, aspasia s. bissas

Meander has always been my favourite word: I love the meaning (totally appropriate to my own life, I might add) and how saying it sounds like its meaning. Meander is also a name for a winding border design formed by a continuous line:

meander, greek key, most beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas
Meander, also known as meandros, Greek Key, or Greek fret.

 

exsanguinate, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I first heard this word on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it became an instant favourite. What an elegant way for a vampire to tell their victim they want to suck their blood. Keep it classy!

But if bloodletting is too messy for you, there’s always…

defenestration, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I love that there’s a word that describes something so specific. And it’s fun to say–go ahead and try it. Lexico also offers an additional, informal, definition: “to remove or dismiss someone from a position of power or authority.” Clearly a useful word on numerous levels.

susurrate, susurration, susurrus, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I guess I really enjoy onomatopoeical words because susurrate is another one that sounds like its meaning. Every time I hear it I picture gentle breezes in gardens. You could even say the word is…

most beautiful words mellifluous, mellifluent aspasia s. bissas

It just rolls off the tongue.

Spike, Buffy, William the Bloody, William the Bloody Awful Poet, Effuldent, aspasia s. bissas

Sometimes it’s not the word itself, but where you learned it. Any Buffy fan will recognize “effulgent” as the word that earned William (AKA Spike) the mocking derision of several douchey Victorians for his “bloody awful” poem. Personally, I think the real crime was rhyming “’tis grown a bulge in’t” with effulgent, but the man was lovesick–he had bigger things to worry about than mediocre poetry. Effulgent actually has a lovely meaning and I think it needs to be put to use more often. Just watch the rhymes.

luminesce, luminescence, luminescent, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I like all versions of this word: luminesce, luminescent, luminescence. It’s a pretty word with a fun meaning–who doesn’t like glowing things (bio-luminescent mushrooms, for example)?

somniloquay, somniloquism, sleep talking, aspasia s. bissas

You can say you talk in your sleep, or you can use a word that makes you sound like a character from Shakespeare. Am I a sleep talker? No, my good sir; I am a somniloquist. Prithee stay the night and mark my somniloquay!

ensorcell, enchant, enchantment, magic, aspasia s. bissas

Magic, sorcery, enchantment–I like them all, but I think “ensorcell” best captures the awe and beauty of the beguiling arts.

frangible, fragile, breakable, aspasia s. bissas

There’s a delicacy inherent in the word frangible that’s lacking in the more prosaic fragile. Anything can be fragile, but only the most vulnerable are frangible. Or maybe that’s just me.

What do you think? Did I miss your favourite word? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Wordy: 7 Words About Books

book page
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Considering pretty much everyone has handled a book at least once, it’s funny that most of us aren’t fully versed in the names for their various parts. While you can probably confidently point out a cover or a page, did you know there’s a word for the blank space between pages? What do you call that doodle on a book’s spine? And how does a book have a spine, anyway? Today we get an lesson on the anatomy of books…

SPINE (noun)

appendix

GUTTER

COLOPHON (Noun)

EPIGRAPH (n)

Preface

Ex Libris

Do you have other words about books to share? Let me know in the comments. Find out more about the history of these words here.