Part 1: Defining your reasons to learn French
Hello there, bonjour!
Welcome to the first part of the series "Guilty of these common mistakes" where we will: identify common mistakes through examples and stories; explore solutions to fix these mistakes preventing your "language breakthrough"; and of course, work to prevent them from happening and optimizing your language routine.
One of my first realization was that without a clear why, or with a wanky idea of why you should speak French, you will never get really far. This is true of every goal setting. When preparing for a new objective, you need to be really precise with your reasons why you should achieve this goal. You can't simply put "Lose weight" you need to envision yourself slimmer, happier and wearing that bikini suit you want. You should also say clearly how this will help you in your life: you'll have more energy, a better life hygiene and so on.
When learning French, it's the exact same thing. You need a reason to motivate yourself and if your motivations aren't strong enough, they will not hold when you get to the difficult parts.
Some of my best students have a very precise wording to why they are learning French.
In August, I received a request from Ai, 10 years old. I didn’t exactly understand at first that she was a child, reaching out to me herself. It actually made no sense to me that a ten-year-old would go to the length of finding for a tutor herself (how independent?!) and put an extra workload on her shoulders.
When I asked her reasons she wrote: “I want to understand them better.” I was confused and little by little, she explained her story. She’s a swimmer, as in an actual swimmer, she swims five days a week, goes to competitions and all that. She was staying in Canada and her few hours of French per week weren’t enough to communicate with her francophone peers.
Ai takes five hours of classes with me per week. She’s the most dedicated of my young students. Because contrary to others her age, she contacted me herself. It’s not her parents who decided that it would benefit their child. She genuinely thinks learning French is exactly what she needs. And she does a terrific job.
As vague as Ai’s first few messages were, she managed to put in words her goal, and clearly defined her objectives with me. Once she was able to precisely explain to me and picture that learning French was the key to 1) improving her relationship with others 2) related to her teammates better 3) getting ahead and mastering a skill that would benefit herself, her swimming team and overall her life, she was able to endure the worst.
Because there will be moments where you get too confused, annoyed, lost, mixed up. There are times where all my students hear from me is “not really” “yes and no” “we wouldn't say it like that” and other unpleasant things. But she manages to hang on and keep at it.
And she’s ten years old.
She is genuinely one of my greatest joy as a teacher. I had no idea anyone could be as dedicated as her. Be as committed as the 10-year-old who wants to talk to her teammates.
Find yourself a pure, true purpose like that (and not “because I want to sound cool”) and you’ll endure anything. The masculine and feminine inanimate objects. The conjugation and all the irregular grammar rules. The spelling and pronunciation. You can do it all.
Of course, you might not have a precise calling for French. But being clear with yourself about why you want to learn will be the one thing you hang on to when you navigate through storms.
Here's a list of reasons why you could want to learn French:
- discover a new community
- broaden your mindset by learning a different way of thinking (every language does that ^^)
- communicate better with your spouse and their family (if they're Francophones)
- learn a new skill to advance in your career
- read your favorite classics in French
- prepare for a trip (I can assure you traveling to France will be much smoother if you know a little French)
- to get in touch with your French speaking family members
- because you've always loved how it sounds
- because you love: the food and cooking, the art, fashion or whatever part of the French culture
- to order wine without mispronouncing its name =)
And various more! The key is to really dig into your reasons to want to learn, they are vital. Without a clear purpose, it's likely that past the first few steps you will get lost and give up.
Don't be scared if you have attempted before, identify the reasons why you stopped, accept and acknowledge them and show your new resolution and motivation in their face.
A good percentage of my students have tried before and it doesn't mean that they are doomed to fail, as long as you strongly believe in the benefits you will make it through.
Let me know below your reasons for wanting to learn French!