Wednesday, January 5, 2022

If French is Your New Year Thing to Do

Relax, pour yourself something nice; green tea, fizzy water or a sparkling glass of champagne to celebrate this new chapter in your life. You have waited a long time to conquer this task of French language fluency.

You are about to invite a language, a culture or more than one; (Canada, Africa, France, exotic Tahiti) and all of the insight, joy, food and love that goes with it, right into your own home. Chouette!

I will be right here by your side, Thierry too, as you renew with the French speaker who lingers within you. Over the course of four weeks, in just 10 minutes a day, your ear will be adapting, remembering that long-ago French once learned, and you will speak, exchange, grow.

Let us look at just what enables one to incorporate another language into mind and ears, and back out of the vocal cords.

This has been ruminating about for some time; since I was 19 and noticed that many of the exchange students went back home after a year abroad fluent in French, yet others were still woefully inadequate as speakers of anything other than their native tongue. Why? I had no special skills or gifts in learning, I was certainly not the kid who finished my year with no accent. I did, however, end the year fluent in French. Were we not all immersed and thus in the most favorable conditions for acquiring a new language? It was not the old disadvantage of age; we were all between 16 and 19 that year. In the following years, patterns would emerge, some involved method, some the company one kept.

I went on to teach English to the Spanish and later to the French, then French to Americans. The running joke between my students and myself was;

"How did you learn French so well?"

"I live with my teacher. Don't suppose your partner would object to you moving out for six months, would they? Get a local fellow/gal."

Right, how about we go back to that bit of French we were working on again?

The idea of learning with a partner stuck with me, and grew into a plan to make it easy to do. Speak each day with the one you're with? Oui. Sure, you can wake up and say; "Let's speak in French today," and: good for you, if you do. But having a method: a meaningful dialog in the form of a script makes it easy to implement. I wrote one especially for last year, for the Great Staying Home for two adults to share; at home, across the world via video, anywhere; French at Home; A Conversation. More followed; French a Debut for beginners, French Abroad for travel and French with Kids, for the whole family.

As to method, when I first started teaching, I began in a strictly prescribed trio of lesson plus workbook plus group exercise used by the language schools of the 90's. True, that worked sometimes for some students. What worked every time, though, was a student interested in learning, engaged in their own progress and conversations on topics relevant to their life.

A friend of mine hit on the prime impetus for language and for the dialogs we use today; "a statement should elicit a response. If you ask your beloved; "do you have the keys?" The response will be spoken, "Of course I do/I have no idea where they are" or physical; holds up key chain and shakes keys. You both see a direct correlation between what is being said and the answer; spoken or acted upon. In other words, use language for communication.Talk to someone you like, or maybe love.

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