Crossing into the French Language

I need to learn french. Well at least I *should* learn french.

Why?

Well I’m dating a french boy and if I want to become part of his culture, well I need to learn his language.

He already speaks good english, but as I’ve learned more about him and gotten closer to him I realize that it is important to learn his language and through that I will become even closer to him and learn more about him and his culture. One thing we have noticed together is he has sort of an “english personality” and “french personality.” Not that he is a completely different person between the different languages and cultures, but that there is a subtle difference in his ways of thinking and acting based on the language he is thinking in.

I realize it’s important for me to learn french, and that is what this post is all about. An accountability post; the start of my french journey, and it’s documentation, so let’s see how I do.

In the Beginning:

In the beginning God created the country of France, and he said, “Let their be French!” Okay, okay, so that’s not quite how it went down. But we started by talking through the basic words, introductions, but most of all, pronunciation!

French on paper actually looks pretty easy, especially to an english speaker. Since a lot of english comes from french, there are so many words that are familiar and seem easy to grasp. But speaking is nowhere as easy as reading, since seemingly half the letters are silent, your mouth has to make all sorts of weird shapes, and there are tons of exceptions.

So pronunciation. My boyfriend and personal french teacher, Augustin, did his best to try and explain to me the different sounds, the rules of speaking, and the way the letters combine to make certain sounds. He was amused by my ability to not differentiate phonetics like “u” and “ou,”  but to me it was just frustrating.

We moved on and practiced basic grammar and eventually turned to french Youtubers like Cyprien and Norman. We started watching their videos with french subtitles and making a vocabulary list of all the words they were using. This helped me practice hearing the sounds, reading the words, comprehension, and an inside look at what french culture is actually about. Through this I learned a lot of slang, but I wasn’t sure if it was necessarily the best method.

Fluent Forever:

I received a notification from my local library in Austin that I book I put on hold via their E-book database was available for me to read. It was a book called Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner that supposedly outlined the best method for learning a language. I started reading and took notes.

This book was inspiring and gave me hope that I could actually do this. I had tried using programs like duolingo or Babel and I just didn’t feel like I was making much progress. What I loved about this book was it provided me the tools I would need to put together my own language learning program. One that wouldn’t require a subscription fee to a language learning site and something that would be custom tailored to me. It involves using various online resources, most of them free, and self-motivation.

The method is a little long to write about in this post, but check out this post for more details: Using the Fluent Forever Method to Learn French.

Continuing Education:

At this point in time I have dedicated myself to trying and study french every day. My daily commute is about 30-40 minutes long and I use this time to review some of my vocabulary and constantly refresh my memory. After exposing myself to french for a period of time I notice a change in how I think. I look at the objects around me and make note of le mot for it in french. Or si j’entends someone speaking french I perk up and notice the sounds they are making.

The Rest of the Plan:

Right now I have been focusing on the 1000 most common french words, and undoubtedly probably some of the most important ones. Alongside my vocabulary I have a French Grammar book that I’ve been reading through and taking notes from. Together in combination I am starting to understand sentences and getting better at reading. Speaking and listening is still difficult, as I am still very shy when it comes to trying to speak. Like many of those trying to learn a foreign language, I am ashamed of my accent and making mistakes. I need to get over my fear and build my confidence if I ever want to improve.

Goals:

  • Become familiar with the 1000 most common words in french
  • Read through the entire grammar book, but focus on understanding the basic concepts and not being perfect
  • Reading articles and blog posts in french! Also being able to watch simple videos and understand
  • Improving speaking confidence by actually trying to talk with friends or when ordering food at the store and not being shy (je voudrais une baguette s’il vous plait) 
  • Learning the next 1000 most common french words
  • Focus on verb conjugations and being familiar/understanding the verbs in their different forms (Ex. hearing je dois and being able to connect that to the infinitive devoir)
  • Speaking and writing french
  • Continue with vocabulary and reviewing grammar
  • Simultaneously speaking, writing, listening, reading, and practicing all of these skills
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