|View from the auberge near Annecy|
I have only recently discovered Aaron Myers and his website The Everyday Language Learner which helps people learn another language. Aaron is a language coach. I had never heard of such a thing, but now that I have, I want one.
Aaron has written a guest post for Multilingual Living titled Language Learning: Climb Past the Saddle! He believes that in language learning you reach where you need to reach in the language. My French has again plateaued but I am comfortable (or is that complacency?) with the level it is at. I can discuss a large range of topics in French with French friends and acquaintances. I can understand French books, magazines, films etc. I can manage to make myself understood and understand others in most situations. I make lots of errors and don't necessarily understand every word but I am able to communicate. I am an expert at finding alternative ways to say something if I don't know a particular language structure. I would like to be able have more 'shades' and 'nuances' in my language repertoire but the reality is that I don't need this as I can reasonably manage without it. When it becomes I priority, I will work harder to master the subtleties that are currently unknown to me.
I do however strongly advise against not understanding every word when ordering a meal. I was dining at an auberge near Annecy and when I read the menu I came across a dish that sounded most appealing. It had cream, bacon, onions etc. There was only one word in the entire description that I didn't understand. Not wanting to show my ignorance, and confident that it would just be the manner of presentation, I placed my order. The dish arrived and I took my first mouthful. I had to stop myself from gagging. I instantly realised my mistake. Rognons is the culinary term for kidneys. Sometimes knowing all the words is important!
In my post, Learning French: Starting over again (Part 2), I listed a number of things that I have tried to supplement my language learning. Aaron succinctly lists 3 items to help 'stay in the game':
- Reading: I couldn't agree more. I can't recall the last book or magazine I read in English.
- Develop Friendships: Aaron talks about developing 'deep and lasting relationships with native speakers of the language you are learning'. I have also found that having good friends who are sharing the language journey is invaluable. They provide support, encouragement and also challenge me. I love having coffee or a meal with them and we chatter away in a 'safe' environment. It has helped break down reservations to speak the language and provides practice in getting my mouth around those tricky nasal sounds and the pesky French R. We may need to resort to looking up an online dictionary when none of us know the word and we don't always know enough to correct each other but still we are communicating in French.
- Imagine and Do: Imagining what I would like to do with the language is not something that I had consciously considered. It does however make a lot of sense and is perhaps something I have subconsciously done. I recall an animated French class when we sidetracked our teacher and ended up discussing terms when buying clothes and shoes and going to the hairdresser. We were all highly motivated knowing that we would definitely be using these skills. Writing blog posts in French is something that I would like to try. They will be riddled with errors but they will push me to go further on my French language journey.
I recommend you check out Aaron's The Everyday Language Learner site for lots more tips for learning languages.
Further reading with Femme Francophile:
- Learning French: New Caledonia - August 2012
- Learning French: Starting over again (Part 1)
- Learning French: Cours de cuisine gratuits sur les marchés parisiens
- Learning French: Starting over again (Part 2)
- Learning French: Immersion Programmes
- Learning French: Immersion Programme with the Alliance française de Rouen
- Learning French: Immersion Programme Homestay