C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron.
(By working at smithing,
you become a blacksmith.)
One thing I didn’t expect when I began exploring Second Life was to improve my French.
During my first few visits, I discovered that residents (as the creators of SL refer to participants) freely give landmarks — in-world links to shops, cities, dance clubs, art galleries, and any other sites they think you might be interested in.
Someone gave me a link to Paris 1900, a sim with a Metro station, sidewalk cafes, broad boulevards, and the Eiffel Tower (at whose top you can get a free parachute and then jump back down). I began chatting with people there, one of whom gave me a link to Gaia, a sort of reception area for French-speaking residents.
After about three months, my ability to read and write French has grown rapidly. I find myself sometimes thinking in French when I’m nowhere near Second Life.
I also recognize some of the difficulties of using another language. It’s far easier to read it than write it; easier to write than to listen; easier to listen than to speak.
While I’d like very much to have more skill than I do, usually I accept my own limitations; talking in another language (even if mainly through typed chat) is much better than not talking in it. And just as I’ll never quite lose the Canadian accent I give to “out” and “about,” I’ll never completely lose my non-native errors. I try to live with them, try to minimize them, and most of the time try to enjoy this unexpectedly valuable aspect of Second Life.