J’ai beaucoup appris, mais j’ai beaucoup plus à apprendre. (I have learned much, but I have a much more to learn.) After two quarters of French, upon reflection, while at times I felt like I was stuck in the proverbial new language mud, I know my ignorance has thankfully been diminished, albeit maybe only a smidge, but still my affection for the language that has captured my attention for decades has undoubtedly been amplified. However, in reaching this realization, I am more aware of all that there is to know. The many verb tenses, the subtle contextual hints that determine what word is being used, and the nuances that make the art of French conversation a skill unto itself have revealed themselves and I am determined to keep the flame of learning burning.
At the end of last quarter in March, I shared 15 things I had learned in French class so far, and many readers commented, shared their experiences and suggestions. All of which I wholeheartedly appreciated and I have a feeling many other French language learners did as well. And so with the second quarter having wrapped up this past Monday, the final handed to my professor and the summer beginning leaving me to my own devices to continue to learn and improve, I wanted to share 12 new things I have learned over the past three months about the how to learn the language steadily, how to learn anything and how to integrate the learning forever into your everyday routine.
What I’ve learned so far . . .
1. Coffee Break French is a great walking companion
Currently I am on lesson 23, just beginning the second unit, and in the short 15-17 minute lessons, I am able to pick up a handful of vocabulary terms as well as practice phrases for conversation without being overwhelmed. I highly recommend this free app (and they have an accompanying website for more practice as well).
2. Print out recipes in French
A few weeks ago, I did this for the first time, and while it was challenging, I loved discovering simple verbs that I know I would use in conversation if I only knew them such as cuire (to cook) and tranche (to slice). Much like investing in something we’re passionate about, learning a language becomes easier when we are integrating the learning process with what we love doing naturally. For me, that is definitely cooking.
3. When you do what you love in the language you want to learn, it’s easier to pick it up more quickly. So I find myself watching more romantic comedies in French. These are just a few I have enjoyed recently: Barbeque, Haute Cuisine, Sex, Love & Therapy, What’s in a Name? and Le Chef (all available on Netflix). I am beyond eager to watch A Chance Encounter which will be released in the next few days on iTunes.
4.Listening to Journal en français facile on RFI (Radio France International) each morning is a simple way for the newsie that I am to improve my ability to hear French (they provide a transcript as well).
5. Wanting to continue my weakest area, conversation, I am considering using iTalki to hire a French tutor to practice regular with during the summer. (Has anyone had experience with this? Please do share!)
6. Stopping into the weekly Parlez Français à Bend for conversation from time to time at a local restaurant is a great way to find people with the same passion.
7. After reading Flirting with French, I am going to be labeling a room a week with sticky notes in French (repetition, repetition, repetition).
8. Reading French regularly in a current context medium provides context clues to help improve vocabulary and recognition. I will be stopping by online French newspapers and magazines such as:
9. Just because I didn’t know something on a test didn’t mean I couldn’t learn it. It simply meant I wasn’t prepared. We can all learn something new when we have the information available, the time to study and the proper tools to make the learning as simple as possible. Make learning a priority, seek out tools and strategies that work with you and your learning tendencies and you will continue to make progress toward your goal.
11. It all comes down to practice. Short term memory is great for success on tests and exams, but if I want the language imbedded in my mind, I have to practice it enough to plant it in my long-term memory. It took me four different walks and six times of listening to the Coffee Break French lesson (#12) on numbers 11-1,000 in order to implant the automatic memory of the numbers into my mind. I felt like an elementary student, but I honestly had never been taught them or, more importantly, taken the time to truly memorize them. Needless to say, it was the constant practice that made the difference.
12. Reading books in English about the French culture adds more depth and understanding. At the moment, I am reading The Bonjour Effect which I mentioned in last Friday’s This & That. So far, I am absolutely enthralled as it is breaking down the French’s approach to what to say, when to say it and why. All of which adds an intriguing new layer to the language I already am intrigued with. Discover more books about French that I highly recommend and reread constantly here.
And the journey truly has just begun, and what a wonderful journey it has been so far. I can only imagine the doors and adventures it will open up in the future. Please do continue to join me as I share along the way what I discover and find helpful as I stumble and succeed with the language of Simone de Beauvoir, Juliette Binoche, Claude Monet, and Coco Chanel, just to name a few historic and contemporary figures of inspiration. Read Part Trois of my journey after classes have wrapped up here.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~All French TSLL posts, recommendations and everything French, click here