Thursday, August 6, 2009

Scrapping Cheese

My colleagues have been great at teaching me new French words and phrases and for the most part they have the patience of saints. However, most of what they teach me is usually quickly forgotten because the exchange oral only and I rarely get a chance to visualize the words to help the memorization process.

During lunch with my colleagues yesterday I asked one of them if I could have a taste of his dessert. His dessert was a tart au chocolat with a perfect dollop of chocolate goodness melted on the wrapping. Being the generous colleague that he is he agreed to let me have a taste and walked away to get a cup of coffee. By the time he came back I had already helped myself to the lonely dollop. Unaware of this he asked me if I still wanted to taste his dessert. My other colleagues responded to him in French and told him that I had already scraped the dollop off the side. The verb racler or to scrape was new to me and for a few moments lingered in my thoughts which is rare for me when I hear a new word. A few moments later after some mental gymnastics a light bulb went off for me. It was at that moment that I associated the verb racler with the cheese raclette. Raclette is typically eaten by melting it over a grill and then scraping off the melted portions and serving over potatoes. I mentioned this insight to my colleagues and they seemed both impressed and slightly amused.

For me making that connection was key in helping me to visualize the new word and to commit it to memory in a place in my brain where it won't easily be forgotten. If only I could do that with every new word I'd be all set.


David said...

Good... This is how acquiring a language works, by making mental connections.

wcs said...

By George, I think she's got it!

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