- 6 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language
- Learning a language by listening to audiobooks
- Confessions of a French Grammatician
- The Beauty Of French Poetry
- How to best memorize another language
Why Learn French?
Learning French flings open the shutters on an exciting new culture - its history, political life, philosophical tradition; its art, cuisine, cinema, music, theatre, poetry… So often, if we are focused on attaining a certain grade for GCSE or A’ Level, or if we need, quickly, to learn enough vocabulary to get by on holiday, we lose sight of the sheer joy of language learning, the fun of words for words’ sake. I urge students to pick up a dictionary and just lose themselves in the thousands of words and their translations. You can become a kind of collector, revelling in your growing treasury of terms which have no English equivalent, like glauque, louche and chez.
It’s a shame that we often first encounter French at an age where self-consciousness rules and the peer pressure to be anti-intellectual and incurious about the world of ideas mean that we resist putting effort into active learning and convincing pronunciation. But like dressing up, putting on an accent is great fun! Speaking another language allows new facets of your personality to emerge, you can literally become quelqu’un d’autre!
It is so easy to prejudge people according to stale old national stereotypes, which in turn suggest that the culture being studied is uninteresting and two dimensional – the bereted cyclist in Breton stripes and a wreath of garlic around his neck, for example. Years ago when I was teaching English in a French secondary school, the kids believed that it never stopped raining in England and that men went to work in pinstriped suits and bowler hats. The huge similarities between our neighbouring cultures went largely unrecognised on the syllabus, although this is changing now.
Whether you want to try conversation classes or need help with exams, give French a chance. You might well find it’s a lasting passion.