Here is a thing about me. I am not a natural linguist. I struggled through my obligatory language O level and achieved a B in French. Basically by learning what I needed to know off by heart.

My name is, I live in, I am x years old, I have two brothers etc etc.

I did a lot of verb conjugation (J’ai, tu as, il a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont (or is it sont? I never was sure)) and dealing in really strange tenses; pluperfect, imperfect future or some such guff.

I hated it. I particularly hated the speaking tests. Partly because I was very shy. Partly because if the examiner veered off course I had no idea what they were saying, however it was conjugated or whatever tense it was in.

In recent years we have been to France a few times and I was able to speak a bit to the locals. As long as I had prepared properly before hand with my phrase book. Luckily my accent is so terrible that none of the people I attempted to converse with tried to widen the conversation beyond:

‘That will be 10 euros please’ in response to my request for two scoops of chocolate ice-cream in a tub not a cone. I was quite pleased with that sentence. If not the price. If they had tried to respond conversationally I would have been lost. I need some one to listen for me and stall them whilst I think up a suitable reply. Unfortunately my husband is even worse at languages than me.

I am not proud of my inability to ‘get’ languages. I feel inadequate when visiting any other country where it seems most of the inhabitants can speak more than passable English. Although this does serve as a massive disincentive to bother. I am not embarrassed enough to try again though. I am good at a great many things. I feel I am allowed to be weak at this. So there.

At school I also flirted briefly with German and gave that up as soon as humanly possible. Capital letters for improper nouns. Why just why?

So foreign language is not my strong point. Eldest has inherited that trait. He is in Year 7 and currently studies three languages. French, Spanish and German. He finds none of them easy.

Soon he has exams in all three. Speaking, listening, reading and writing. I really feel for him.

Tonight we have been grappling with preparation for his Spanish written test. I have no idea. The text book seems to contain no English at all. He doesn’t know the verbs ‘to have’ or ‘to be’. They do not seem to use pronouns except when they do. The accents are all different to French. And I never really remembered them in French either. Punctuation is just weird.

I know I should just ‘let him get on with it’ but that is hard to do when he is sitting at the table at a complete loss. I need to mount that white charger and ride to the rescue. So I do.

My mother did the same for me on occasion. Although not in French. Mostly in maths. Which she liked and was good at. I can still remember the day she tried to help me with fractions. She had a complete inability to understand how I did not understand them. At least I ‘get’ Eldest’s issue with Spanish. As I do not ‘get’ it either.

Any way we seem to have cobbled together a few paragraphs which when entered into Google translate appear to make some sense, in patches.

He just has to learn it now including the spellings. And he doesn’t like spelling much even in English.

Then at some point we need to do the same thing in French, at least I know what I am doing, sort of.

We are not even going to bother with German which he is dropping for good next year. I never usually advocate not giving one’s all to a subject but in this case I feel some sympathy. Let him fail it.

Like me he has to do one language at GCSE. One will be enough. More than enough.

No me gusta el espanol porque es dificil. Or something.