What I’ve Learned in French Class So Far

Mar 09, 2016

lourvemuseumoutdoors

Bon matin! Pour d’autres francophiles, j’ai un poste pour vous aujourd’hui. (Good morning! For fellow Francophiles, I have a post for you today.)

The first quarter of my French language class is wrapping up next week with my final looming in the near future. And while the two and a half months zipped by, the clarity I now have about how much I don’t know about the French language has been made clear. A lot. But, I have also realized having a sincere passion and curiosity to learn something, in my case a new language, is the propeller that will keep nudging you forward when the frustration level begins to rise and you wonder if you’ve started something you will ever be able to complete or be successful at.

While I, like many of you, took French in college (albeit three quarters, one in France), a full appreciation of what I was doing and what I was given the opportunity to learn was not fully recognized. Now, as someone who deeply desires to become more fluent in the language which is a crucial component to the culture that I would talk about ad nauseam whenever I am given the chance, the dream of grasping it with more understanding was finally made available upon moving to Bend. And I jumped at the chance.

Learning a tremendous amount about the language, I have also learned much more, and that is what I want to share with you today (along with a few language lessons sprinkled about here and there). Enjoy!

1. I am fortunate to have a French language course offered in the town I call home. As writer William Alexander points out in Flirting with French, not everyone has a university or a community college that offers French. And having tried to learn the language online and in books, the best way I learn is in the classroom with an actually professor in the room.

2. Feminine and masculine nouns — there is a difference and you just have to memorize them.

3. Understanding Latin and Greek roots helps a great deal.

4. Don’t be afraid to sound like a fool. Speak in class. Practice speaking in class. Try it. Do it again. The foolishness will subside.

5. I have a loooooong way to go, but in order for any of us to travel to our desired destination, we must get in the car and start the engine.

6. I know more than I realize about the French culture due to my predilection for all things French, reading any and all French-lifestyle inspired books, following the latest French design collections and inquiring about any headline involving French politics. The obsession has paid off!

7. Watching a French film whenever I get a chance is yet another opportunity to learn and enjoy myself in the process.

8. Most French drink their café au lait out of a designated bowl when at home. 

9. The French keyboard is peculiar.

10. Many TSLL readers speak or understand French. And I want to thank you for helping me practice in little, yet significant ways (leaving comments on IG in French, etc).

11. The iTranslate app is a must-have.

11. Three skills: speaking French, reading French, understanding spoken French. The latter is the most difficult for me. Currently I understand 25% of what I hear.

12. Buying a French verb book is a necessary supply to have for each class.

13. Avoir and être are the go-to helping verbs. 

14. The “à” will only be accented with a left upward mark, called a grave accent mark and doesn’t change the pronunciation. Here is a list of the five different French accent marks.

15. Having a French professor who is actually French with family living in Paris and surrounding western European countries offers an additional level of learning and peek into the French culture.

And the learning continues . . . click here for Part Deux of what I have learned in French class so far.

~To read more French-inspired posts and discover all of the French-lifestye books I have read and loved, click here.

Image via TSLL 2013 Paris, The Tuileries Garden looking at the Louvre



17 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned in French Class So Far

  1. There is nothing like actually being in a country to help with the language, full immersion, and of course you are so right, no one really laughs at the mistakes we make, just so long as we try. You may not be aware but the circumflex was due to be deleted from written French in September this year, however it caused such a Hugh outcry, the French are good at this, that they have had to reconsider, now it will only be removed from above the U and I and where it does not change the pronounciatioin of the word!

  2. Félicitations pour votre français qui semble très bon! Je fais moi même la démarche dans l’autre sens en essayant d’améliorer mon anglais! French is one of the most difficult language to learn so don’t worry if it seems arduous. And french people love hearing people who speak their language with a beautiful english accent. I would be glad to help in French if needed!
    Xoxo
    Claire

  3. I love learning new languages! I credit learning to read music (which really is a language in its own right) with hard-wiring my brain to pick up languages easily. I’m not fluent in anything (not even English most days!) but I can speak and understand some Spanish, German, and lately I’ve started self-studying Russian. I know JUST what you mean about the strangeness of the keyboards. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me when I chose Russian that I’d also have to learn a new alphabet and new handwriting. It’s much more intense than I anticipated, so now that I’m going back to college, Russian has to take a back seat. If I’m able to fit another language into my schedule, maybe I’ll finally get a chance to study French (and Mandarin…and Italian…) Keep us posted on how your studies go!

  4. Bonjour,
    Bon courage pour vos cours.
    Il y a un autre petit livre que tous les Français ont ou ont eu, il s’agit du Bescherelle qui permet de conjuguer tous les verbes et à tous les temps .
    Je l’utilise encore.
    Amitiés

  5. Bonjour. Il y a douze ans que j’ai appris française. J’habite à Philadelphie. Je vais une école française un fois chaque semaine. J’ai difficulté de parler donc aussi je rencontre avec un voisin (qui est parisienne) un fois par semaine. J’aime regarder TV5. Bon chance à vous!

  6. Well done! I was almost fluent at one point since I took french in university as an elective, and it comes back in bits when I’m in France. Such a pretty language!

  7. Bravo Shannon! I have high school French which, in the 70s, was a sad imitation of the way you are learning. We translated — both ways — learned our nouns and verbs but could barely speak the language! You have encouraged me to consider rectifying this.

  8. Something that helps with understanding spoken French: watch French movies with French subtitles (NOT English subtitles!). I used to do this with TV here: put on the subtitles for the hearing impaired. It was hard, because most of the TV series were American, with the result that the actors were mouthing English, while the sound and subtitles in French. But it did help me untangle syllables that came fast into distinct words and to pick up common turns of phrase.

  9. I lol’ed at “The French keyboard is particular.” So true. I hate using my husband’s laptop (he’s French). So confusing!

    Also, yes to how they drink coffee–and cider!–out of bowls. I have a big Anthropologie teacup that my husband refers to as my “bol.” I was like, “no, it’s a tasse. It has a handle.” Little details like that are so funny. I love learning about new cultures. 🙂

  10. Shannon, so happy to hear you are speaking French. I live in Ottawa, Canada. In order to remain gainfully employed, it is imperative that i am bilingual as I am 10 minutes from the Québéc border in a bilingual, federal, government town. Although I do take grammar and technical writing courses at L`université D`Ottawa (a bilingual University), i find its still not enough to be as fluent as I must be to be a success au travail. Then I began offering Soirée Française chez nous. This evening consists of only French food & wine. And once you walk though my front door, no one speaks English! Its hard a first, and we laugh when we stumble over the Roustides d`anchois (hors d`oeuvres), but as the night goes on, and the Provençal lamb has been devoured to the very end, and the crème brulée is savoured, we are actually speaking French. Fluently. This is such a success that some of us have either dreamt in French that very evening, or have awoken speaking French to their partners! And everyone can`t wait to do it again next time. A votre santé.

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