Why bother with languages?
I find this a crazy question, I think the benefits are pretty self-evident! It’s amazing to be able to communicate in another language (usefulness aside!) and I’m fascinated by the studies that show language can shape the way you think! It’s a fab way to understand other cultures, to have alternative ways of expressing yourself, and it also keeps the brain healthy!
My language learning story
One of my biggest regrets is that after my French GCSE, I started doing it at A Level but decided that 5 was too many, so I dropped down to 4 subjects and French was the one I gave up.
Over the years since then, I’ve done little bits of tutoring, lots of learning French Disney songs on youtube (I can actually ridiculously sing all the words to ‘Let it Go’ / ‘Liberée Deliverée‘ in French without the song playing hahaha!) and I did a two week immersion course in Royan in the summer between the first and second year of my part time law conversion (I worked full time in marketing and studied law in the evenings, hence why language learning didn’t really fit much then!) which was fab.
That was where I started this blog (below!) which I’d forgotten about until recently… but I’m resurrecting it now that having returned from my Italian holiday where I heard all the other Germans and Italians switching between two, three, four languages effortlessly, I’ve decided to slog it out and get better!
My French journey blog can be found here: Ma Quete Francaise.
Here I blogged about my experience studying on a French Immersion course for 2 weeks where they didn’t speak English to you at all, you learned in French (!) and being in a class above my ability level (although they gave me a certificate saying I passed B2… so maybe I did okay! But I was definitely the worst speaker there!) and also keeping up ‘immersion’ in England, how I study, my attempts at French generally…
You can also find me on Italki here!
In terms of other languages, at 16 I learned the whole of Mulan (again Disney!) Reflection in Italian and I also know some of the lyrics to Con Te Partio (!) and can order stuff in Italian and say I have a reservation etc, and I can ask the time and say ‘no thanks I’m not hungry’ in Polish… but to be honest, French is the only real foreign language I have a shot at for now. If I ever reach an okay version of fluency, I’ll try Italian next!
Language learning resources
Fluent In 3 Months website – so I love Benny Lewis, who hated languages at school, but as an adult became a polyglot (he speaks over 8 languages I think, and more with varying degrees of fluency!) He gives lots of advice, tips and tricks on language learning and how to improve quickly. I highly recommend his book, Fluent in 3 Months to get you motivated and ready to start! He also publishes a series of Language Hacking books which are beginner’s courses (here’s the French, Italian, German and Spanish version but I think there are more!)
Italki.com – where native speakers can correct your notebook entries, you can find super cheap Skype tutors, and also connect with people all over the world for free language practice by doing a Skype language exchange – you help them with English, they help you with your chosen language!
JeTente – a useful youtube channel by a polyglot about learning languages fluently, in French!
Amazon.fr – this gem is where I buy all of my DVDs in French so that I can watch films I know well in French and pick up vocab and it helps cement grammar rules and stuff, but because you know what’s happening, you can follow very easily! I’ve also bought novels from here to practice my reading but I think audio is the most useful!
So far I have:
La Belle et La Bete (le dessin animee et la version avec Emma Watson!)
Rebelle (the translation of Disney’s ‘Brave’)
Tomb Raider (avec Alicia Vikander)
Lolite malgre Moi (hilariously they translated ‘Mean Girls’ as Lolita in spite of, or against me! Haha)
And on itunes, all the Harry Potter films (or most of them!) and Eat Pray Love and The Sound of Music have French Audio 🙂
Bloggers and youtubers are another great resource – my favourites for French are below.
Bloggers / youtubers
A note: I like to listen to native French youtubers, but also French speakers who are from elsewhere and have learned the language as that not only motivates me that it’s possible to learn, but also it helps you get used to French spoken with “foreign” accents e.g. Rach Martino speaks with an American accent etc! However, I make sure I listen to as many native French speakers as possible to maximise accuracy in terms of content and pronounciation 🙂
Rachel Martino – so Rachel is an American who speaks fluent French. For this reason she’s super easy to follow as she speaks much more slowly, but bear in mind she does have an American accent!
My Better Self – youtube & instagram – Louise Aubrey, aka My Better Self (and she’s French!) not only makes videos in French but her insta posts offer both French and English translations which is great. She also has an amazing podcast in French called ‘In Power’ which I love to listen to.
Francais Authentique – this is such a great one! So clear and slowly spoken, great for getting to grips with more French audio.
Patricia B – another youtuber American who lives in France (Montpellier) and speaks fluent French!
EnjoyPheonix – native speaker, does a lot of standard vlogs and makeup hauls etc in French!
Sebastien Night – he speaks 6 languages fluently and makes videos in French about marketing and entrepreneurship.
The Urban Eve – Eve considers that she is most comfortable in German but she speaks 8 languages, and shares tips on language learning tips, tricks and techniques! She’s also working on her 9th language which is Arabic.
French Truly TV – insights into French culture, pronounciation, grammar… plus cute tips for travel in France, Frenchifying your home / style etc…
MsChrissie – a French youtuber (and law student – see her video on a day in her life studying law here!) who also speaks fluent Russian, German and English! But she makes videos in French on beauty, general vlogs and all kinds of other things, but she’s also done a video on how to learn a language fluently!
Searching ‘entretien’ + celeb name – this means interview, and you can find interviews with French-speaking celebs like Diane Kruger, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Eva Green, Clemence Poesy, Lily-Rose Depp etc.
Use the web! GET CREATIVE! – I love reading magazines, so I just use google to find the French versions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour! It’s a great way to integrate your language learning into your day-to-day life by making it part of something you’d do anyway – but you can just do it in French!
The same applies to finding videos on youtube on subjects you’re interested in! If you watch beauty tutorials, search ‘tuto maquillage‘ or if you like learning new hair tricks, try ‘tuto coiffeur’… if you want documentaries, search ‘documentaire‘ etc.
And if you’re not learning French just look up these words in your chosen language! C’est facile!