Why and How I’m (Finally) Learning French

Today’s post is about Why and How I’m (Finally) Learning French. From time to time, I like to write things on the site that aren’t related to money but more to life hacks, goals, and other interesting things like travel.

I like to do this because the whole purpose of this blog is to discover freedom. While money is essential to freedom, freedom is not solely tied to money. There are a lot of things freedom may mean to you.

This means that whatever will allow you the freedom to do what you love to do, we will write about.

I also am striving to write more personal content for the site to change up what you can gain value from this site. So, if there’s anything in particular that you would like me to write about let me know!

Anyways, this post is about Why and How I am (Finally) Learning French.

First I’d like to give you a little background on my language learning path.

My language learning background is mostly nonexistent up until this point. I did take Spanish in high-school, but I didn’t take any foreign language throughout college.

I have picked up Spanish only because I’ve traveled to South America and Mexico, but it’s definitely a beginner level (if that).

A few years ago I decided that I was interested in learning another language and wanted to start the process.

I read a lot of articles, downloaded some practice material, and….. never did anything with it.

I think this happens a lot, not only to me but many of you. Often times when we become interested in something we get really excited and want to learn as much as we can about it.

Then once the excitement wears off and the day-to-day challenges of actually acquiring a new skill confront us with our insecurities, past failures, and the hindrances life brings, we never end up moving forward with a new project.

I see this happen a lot with people in their financial life, too.

I’m not blaming anyone here; apparently, I am just as guilty as anyone!

So, back to Why and How I Am (Finally) Learning French.

I think there are a few reason’s WHY I’ve decided it’s time to learn a second language.

Future Career Opportunities

I am almost done with my M.A. in International Relations & Affairs. Being a master of international relations student demands that you have an understanding of other cultures, languages, political systems, and languages.

While it’s not a requirement for my program, many international business and diplomacy master’s degrees do require fluency in a foreign language. Most jobs in my field need fluency in a language as well.

So, to be competitive in the market, per se, learning a foreign language will be very helpful if I decide to use my degree.

I Put Language Learning Off Too Long

You know when you get to the point where you keep saying you’re going to do something but you never actually make it happen? Yeah, well that’s my relationship with language learning.

This hit me when I found some articles that I printed off from 2015 (when I was really beginning my interest in learning a new language).

That’s 3 years ago!

It hit me yesterday that I haven’t done anything to get myself closer to the goal of learning a language.

Turning 30 Years Old Changed Everything

If you are 30, turning 30 soon, or older than 30, you may know what I’m talking about. 30 years old comes with a shot.

Similar to what I have already alluded to, it makes you consider all the things in life that you have not accomplished yet.

So, being 30 now, I just decided that which learning is something that I want to prioritize.

Motivation and accessibility. With all the reasons described above, I’m finally motivated to actually put in the time that it takes to acquire a new language.

I think this is important because if you are not motivated, you won’t follow through.

Additionally, now that we’ve moved to a new city there is a new language school that is only about a mile from my house.

I decided that as we turn this new leaf of living in a new city, it would be a good time to re-commit to making my language learning a reality.

WHY AND HOW I’M (FINALLY) LEARNING FRENCH

OKAY, so now that I’ve shared with you WHY I’m learning French, let me tell you HOW I am learning French.

Everything that I’ve learned thus far about learning a language says that full immersive experience is the best way to learn.

This basically means if you have the time and money to move to a foreign country to learn the language that’s the best way to do it.

While I wish I could move to France, I can’t right now. So, I had to get creative about how I am approaching the full immersion experience.

I obviously understand that I am not going to be able to fully immerse myself in the French language living in the Northwest United States. I’m pretty sure only a tiny population of people here actually speak French, but I will find them eventually I’m sure.

However with technology nowadays I do think it is a lot easier to immerse yourself in a language and culture then it ever has been before.

My general approach is broken down into three primary components:

1. Attend in-person language school
 2. Talk to online language partner between official language class
 3. Self-study on my own (audio CD’s and grammar books).

In-Person Language School

As I already mentioned, I’m attending a language School. I found the class online with a simple Google search for “French language class near me.”

Once I found the class, I looked into it, scheduled a meeting with the director and ask her all my looming questions. After the session, I felt great about how much they were charging and what the learning outcomes would be.

All in all, the class is $600 for a 16-week intensive learning experience. Not cheap!

Many people say that in class learning is outdated and ineffective; however, I think this comes down to knowing how you personally performed best.

I know that if I don’t have accountability each week and potentially look like an idiot in front of other people, I probably wouldn’t study.

So far this has been somewhat effective, although, I have still looked like an idiot in class. Oh well.

Language Class Structure/Approach
 My class meets once per week, two hours each session. The course is awesome because it’s only four people so we can get some personalized feedback. It’s mostly going through a popular French language learning book with a CD. I’ve linked to the text below if you want to check it out.

My Personal Study Book: Alter Ego — French 1 Study Guide & CD

Online Language Tutor

As I already mentioned one of the best things about technology is that you can basically learn anything online.

Technology does have its drawbacks or several apparent reasons, but I think that the positives outweigh the negatives when considering how to learn a language.

There are several tools that I have discovered that have been of inspiration and application in my language learning process.

Here’s a list of the apps that I have downloaded on my phone in my language learning folder:

  • Italki (the best and personally my favorite tool for finding language partner)
  • Babble (haven’t used much)
  • DuoLingo (haven’t used much)
  • AnkiApp (my favorite tool for spaced repetition flashcard study)
  • iTranslate (classic French/English dictionary and translator)

Now, I’m not going to dig into all of these but just highlight what I use the most and what I like about it. I discovered italki during my research, and I found it to be invaluable and actually learning to speak the language. I found a French language partner that lives in Montpellier, France.

We speak once per week, and I give her an outline of the things I’d like to improve, and she helped me work on them. She is also learning English, so it works out great that I can also help her achieve her goals too.

The great thing about this app is that is absolutely free if you find a language partner that wants to connect with you.

Italki also has a paid version where you can hire certified language instructors through the platform. I think this is a good option if you don’t have an in-person class in your city or you just prefer online learning.

Language Tutor Structure/Approach
 While I’ve only talked to my language partner two times, I think this is going to pay off in the long run because it will increase the repetition of what I’m learning in class. We plan on talking once every three days from here forward.

Self-Study

The third and final component of my language learning strategy is to do self-study.

This is where I have failed in the past to keep my commitments. In the past, I would sit down download a lot of tools and information but never actually use it.

The common term for this is related to “analysis paralysis.”

This time around I’m using study time to reinforce what I’m learning in class and with my language partner. So far, I found this still challenging but very important to my progress.

I have a set of Pimsleur French CD’s, which is a well known an audio CD set that I purchased several years ago (that I never used!).

The CD’s cover different concepts than my in-class sessions do, but I have found this appealing because it gives me a breadth of information rather than focusing just on grammar.

The CDs allow me to practice unabashedly and not be afraid of how stupid I may sound or how hard it is to produce the French “R” (rRRRRrr).

I found that throughout this process repeating a native French speaker that I hear on an audio tape is much better than repeating every single word that my French tutor says or my teacher at the language school.

You just don’t want to be that guy that says every single thing that your teacher says. LOL.

In addition to listening to the French audio CD’s, I try to also work on my writing, grammar, and other things to reinforce concepts.

Self-Study Structure/Approach

I tried to study several nights per week. I need to get better at this.

Ideally, I would like to study at least one hour per night self-study so that I am familiarizing myself with the language as much as I can in between tutoring and class.

My Four Key Takeaways For Language Learning

I’m by no means an expert at language learning considering I’ve only been learning French for just right at about 4 weeks.

However, I have learned some things that I think could benefit someone if they’re interested in learning a second language on their own.

At the core of my advice, it really just boils down to understanding who you are, your weaknesses, and your strengths.

Like any other personal development endeavor, self-awareness is critical to success.

(1). Know yourself to lead yourself. If you know you need accountability to complete tasks find an accountability partner for school to join. While I don’t think going to an official language school is essential, if it means the difference between you actually acquire the language and not, it will be worth your time

(2). Diversify your approach. Learning a language is a contact sport. It is tough. If you are not able to move to the target country where your language is spoken, my advice to you is to find several ways that you’ll be able to interact with the language.

I’m going to start listening to movies with subtitles, music and other things. These are all critical to changing the way that your brain sees words and letters on a screen.

(3.) Expect difficult days. The first 2 weeks of any new project are the best because they are the easiest! This boils down to motivation. Early on and anything you’re going to be way more motivated than later on when things start to get hard.

My first two weeks I learned a ton! Two weeks later? I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything else! I’m frustrated. However, this is what is commonly referred to as the learning curve.

Learning a new language is hard just like any other new skill, expect difficult days.

(4.). Find a support partner. Finding somebody that can support you and your language learning endeavors is really important. Jenna has been immensely valuable in motivating me (and even picking up a little bit of French so that we can say a few things to each other).

Not to mention, she’s been incredibly supportive of my goals overall to learn a language. If you are not married or in a serious relationship consider asking a friend to learn a language with you so that you can hold each other accountable and practice with one another.

Closing Thoughts

While my French is rough, I’m improving slowly but surely. Seeing that I’m only 4 weeks into the process, I know I have a long way to go, BUT I am committed to sticking with it until I can have a conversation with a native French speaker this time.

Overall, it’s been fun learning about France, French history, and just stimulating a new part of my brain.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on language learning.

What languages do you know? What language would you like to learn? What’s holding you back? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Until next time! (Jusqu’à la prochaine fois).


Originally published at Your Money Your Freedom.