The challenge is on. My plan is to relocate to France within the next few months, and I aim to develop my French to a decent conversational level before I go. Having taken a basic French class, I’m armed with a basic framework, a textbook and the infinite resources of the Internet. Nothing can stop me now.
More than anything, learning French is a personal goal. The test of my ability will be how well I can think on my feet once I’m there. There is no pressure here to get a good grade, but to be able to communicate meaningfully with French people once I’m there.
The first thing I refuse to let enter my mind is the idea that “French is HARD!” Having come from a background of studying Latin, Japanese and Korean, that’s just a lame excuse that won’t float. (Not that I claim to be excellent in any of those languages, by any means. In fact, I think I’ve learned a lot about how NOT to study languages, based on these past experiences.) That mindset, in regards to any endeavor, dooms you to fail before you’ve given an earnest effort.
My general mindset is:
1) French is an interesting code that I’m cracking bit by bit.
2) 100% accuracy does NOT equal fluency! So relax and make mistakes.
3) Willingness to speak and learn from mistakes ultimately produces a confident and communicative language user.
4) Approaching it from outside the box (by avoiding the traditional textbook approach) is more fun, more meaningful, more useful, and more engaging. For me, the fewer textbooks, the better. (A bit ironic, coming from a language teacher…)
5) I have many opportunities to engage with the language outside the textbook; it’s my springboard. The pool is AUTHENTIC communication.
6) A whole new culture is opening up to me. I’m intimately familiar with the connection between language and cultural identity, and approaching it with as much respect as I can give as an outsider. I’m excited to approach this new language as a tool to dive into French culture.