5 tips to learn French when you don't have the time
Hello folks! Bonjour à tous!
It's funny how most of us have to learn a foreign language as early as preschool nowadays, yet we fail to understand the necessity to do so. We often treat it as a secondary subject, without seeing its practicality. And many of us, later regret these few years of study gone with the wind because we stopped practicing or simply, had no reason at all to keep at it.
Since I work on a campus filled with students from all continents, I get a lot of "I studied French for five years" yet, remains only a shy, mispronounced "Bonjour" or "merci". Why is it that, though we live in a world with access to other cultures and languages, right from our homes, we still fail at practicing and becoming fluent?
I think that the number one reason will be the lack of necessity. If you don't have to do it, most likely you won't. Even those who've always wanted to put "French, Spanish, Russian, ..." on their résumé fail to learn fully.
When one is stuck outside the context of actually learning the language, that is, not surrounded by it, it may take years to achieve only basic vocabulary. We are busy working here, studying that and fail to do that one thing that will not have an immediate impact on our lives. We're all the same, if I have only one free hour, I'd rather clean my house or whatever than sit and study. Because at the end of the day, I'd learnedearnt three new words of vocabulary and still have a dirty house.
Here are 5 tips for the busy bees, to help you learn a language when you have no time to do so.
1) Plan ahead.
It seems almost impossible to just have a free moment and think "well, now's the perfect time". Trust me, you won't do it. Instead, when preparing your schedule for the week, chores or else, look for a moment when you'll be able to sit, relax and either read a French manual, watch a video or so.
2) Multi task.
Though I'm not always a fan of multitasking, I believe that it does prove useful when learning a language. Listen to recordings while driving is a good start. I've had trouble finding time to read books so instead, I listen to them and though it is a different experience, well, the job gets done.
3) Take small bites.
I was having major difficulties learning verbs and conjugation when I started learning Catalan, until I found this little trick, I took a small (a quarter of a page) piece of paper and wrote eight verbs with definition and full conjugation. I carried it with me, usually in my pocket and unfolded the little paper every time I got the chance for two weeks. I then took a blank page and wrote it all down without looking. I got them all right!
Had I try to tackle that head first and just sit in front of the page for two hours, it would have been long and painful, but reciting them 5 times a day for 30 sec sessions proved very useful.
You don't need to clear five hours in a row in your agenda, take small bites here and there, as often as you can.
4) Live the language.
Particularly when you're isolated and can't find anyone to speak with, it's important that you surround yourself in the language. Watch some movies! Listen to music! Make sure that even when you relax, you're learning. Watching a two hours movie has never made anyone fluent, but it does create a sense of familiarization. Most of the grammar and syntax you will learn from books, movies, songs etc. Because when your ear gets used to a sentence sounding like this, built like that and such, it'll later come more naturally to you.
5) Find a partner.
One can only play tennis against a wall for so long. It entertains, but you'll never be an actual tennis player. It works the same with language. The basic purpose of a language is to communicate. If you don't communicate with anyone, it'll never grow and develop.
Also, don't be shy: you will learn much faster by talking and making little mistakes here and there, than waiting to have a perfect French before addressing anyone. I guarantee you that the person that goes out there and just talk will eventually perfect its little mistakes and become fluent. I've seen it with my neighbor in college. A great boy with the worse French I'd ever heard, yet trying all the time to speak in French (with a broken accent and all sorts of things). But in less than a year, he was more than fluent enough, could speak French with anyone and got a great job in France.
Here you go! 5 tips to help you learn. I realize that time and consistency are more often than not the key to language learning. Apply these suggestions to your routine and wait for the results!
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