Scotty and I have recently returned from a fabulous trip to Canada. We loved the people, the food and, of course, the gorgeous scenery.
And I loved the opportunity to test how far my French language skills had come since our last visit to France, earlier this year.
If I’m being candid, most of the time I’d rate my French as pretty ordinary. This is in spite of the fact that I’ve been wanting to learn French for as long as I can remember. It’s the one thing that’s on my goal list year after year. And my desire to learn the language never seems to go away – no matter how often I tell myself that I’m wasting my time.
But, I had to reset my thinking almost as soon as we landed in Canada. Because as we walked through airport, I was struck by how much French I understood in bilingual Toronto. I could read the French signs and understand the announcements that were delivered in French.
My feelings of surprise continued as we made our way across the French speaking parts of Canada.
While I wouldn’t suggest that I’m great, I’d come far further than I would’ve given myself credit for. Which naturally got me thinking about the things that had helped me progress my language learning – both the big and the small. And I thought I’d share my top three tips in case you too are wanting to learn French.
Wanting To Learn French? Here Are My Top Three Tips
- Keep a growth mindset. Adults are generally used to feeling competent and in control. But learning any new skill – let alone something as complex as a language – opens you up to feeling incompetent. When you forget vocabulary or grammar points or mispronounce every second word, a whole stack of uncomfortable feelings can arise. It’s easy to feel silly, frustrated and every other negative emotion in between. Keeping a growth mindset and remembering why you originally wanted to learn French can be helpful when you start to feel like you are never going to master the language.
- Commit and get a tutor. I’d dabbled with audio methods and group classes for years. But it wasn’t until I got serious and hired a private tutor that I started to gain any traction. Not only does my brilliant, patient tutor tailor my lessons to suit me, but she also holds me accountable to my learning goals. Knowing that I have a Skype meeting with her every week encourages me to study (and submit my homework). When searching for a tutor many things will influence your decision, including the cost, time commitment and skill set of the tutor. But make sure you also consider whether you like your tutor and if they can inspire you to learn. As I mentioned above, learning something new can put you in vulnerable position. This is a lot easier to deal with if you feel like you are working with a friend.
- Make time to study, learn and practice. Yes, obvious. But learning a language takes regular practice. It’s disappointing I know, but there is no magic wand. I’ve come to understand that when I study a little bit of French every day through the week, my Friday morning lessons go so much better.
Do you have any tips to share for your fellow francophiles who are wanting to learn French? If so, make sure you take a moment to share them in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.