As you guys know, I’ve been taking French since early last fall. A few weeks ago, the Level 4 class began. Even after being exposed to the language for weeks and months on end, this class has been a whole new ball game. At Fluent City, where I’m taking the courses, only native speakers are allowed to teach this class, and I’ve found the students in it are way more advanced. I think that’s because in earlier levels, the types of people taking classes were those who had maybe done Rosetta Stone on their own, or had taken French in high school years and years ago. In this class? There are people who have lived in France. Or speak it regularly with their (French) spouse and (French) friends. Or majored in it in college. Totally intimidating, right?
But, I’m not getting discouraged — which, I’ll admit, was my first instinct. Instead, I’ve been trying to hone in on the lessons I’ve learned after trying to learn a language as an adult over the last half year. I know that learning a new language is a goal/dream for so many people, so I thought I’d share some tips on what I’ve discovered with you today. Hopefully, these will encourage and inspire you to start learning and not give up!
STOP TRANSLATING WEB PAGES: Whenever I used to land on pages like Sézane and Garance Doré, the first thing I would do would be to either switch to the site’s English version, or have Google translate it for me within Chrome. Now? I really, really try not to do that. It’s like a pop quiz — out of nowhere, I have to take a minute and try and think about what I’m reading. Two things happen when you do this: one, you realize how much you actually can read and interpret in another language, and two, you end up being exposed to colloquialisms (which is a good thing). There have been a few times I’ve read a Garance essay and not known what a phrase meant, but when I Googled it, realized it was a French idiom. Knowing these little phrases is what makes your language skills sound more legit!
SPLURGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL GLOSSIES: The first time I ever splurged on a copy of Vogue Paris, I had serious doubt. The magazine stand I found it at was charging $15 for a single issue. Ouch! But, after a while, I realized it was a good value. For one thing, I can’t plow through a magazine written entirely in French at the same speed as an English one — it takes me months (yes, months). But the other thing is that a French magazine provides a lot of learning benefits because of the contextual clues it provides. A fashion mag like Vogue Paris isn’t so different from its American counterpart, or other style magazines. The way the book is laid out, plus the types of topics it covers are all really similar, so you have a ton of context to help you through vocab words you don’t know. Plus, magazines inherently give you some choices of what to tackle — front of book pieces (like a short piece on a new skin cream) are easy to digest and can be read in a few minutes; longer features can be tackled when you have more time to sit, study and look up words. Plus, magazines give you pretty pictures to look at while you’re learning. What’s not to love?! Read more »