Learning French

For years, I’ve wanted to relearn the French language having studied it both when I was a in 5th grade and in high school for a couple of years. Now that Stuart and I have made our decision to settle in France, it is imperative.

As soon as I knew I’d be visiting France, I started using an online learning program called Memrise. They have several free French courses, some better than others, which I really enjoyed. For someone who just needs some familiarity with survival lingo, it’s a great place to start. What I like about Memrise is the science-based learning approach that utilizes memes or images you choose to make remembering a concept easier combined with sight, sound, and of course, repetition. I also like the daily reminders to practice. It isn’t that intuitive though; by that I mean that sometimes, even though I typed in an appropriate phrase, it would be regarded as incorrect because it wasn’t the phrase they expected…and I’d sometimes lose points for typing errors.

Stuart had a CD series of French lessons that I am now using created by Michael Thomas. I like the approach he takes focusing on the cognates and having two pupils who interact with him on the CD, making it more like attending an actual class. You are supposed to pause the CD each time he asks someone to say something en francais, but so far, I haven’t had to do that; I’ve been managing to answer before the students. I imagine it would be a bit of a pain if this were not the case, to be pausing the recording every few minutes or seconds. Still, it’s a good program that has one spitting out complicated strings of words in no time. But so far, my problem is that I have no means to apply what I’m learning…yet.

I also just started getting some French tutoring from my friend, MayaJoelle. She is of French origin and a wonderful French teacher and tour guide. I’m blessed to know her, for her approach is one that focuses not only on the cognates but also on the musicality of the language…something I do understand. She’s also giving me what no online or CD program can which is correction in pronunciation and actual interaction. Ironically, I sometimes wish I could press the pause button working with MayaJoelle! She’ll say things or ask me to say something sometimes that I just simply cannot get my head around…but that’s good because it is what I will no doubt experience in France…the panic and utter confusion of not being able to “find the right word”. MayaJoelle offered me the tip to label everything in my house with its French word. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner. It’s a great idea, and I plan on getting to work on that in the next few days. She’s also recommended watching French movies and listening to French music which I’ll be doing with online resources.

I kind of see learning French now as my job. It is something I must do daily, like exercising and brushing my teeth. It requires a great deal of attention and focus. The more I pour myself into it here, the less intimidated I’ll be when I arrive in France.  N’est-ce pas?

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