Why learn French?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll meet a number of new  students, all keen to improve on their existing skills.

The past has shown that, inevitably the question of why they want to learn French crops up at our first meeting as [a] I am curious, and [b] well, there is no real [b] – I am just curious!

Most of the time, people get quite embarrassed, and mutter quickly something along the lines of:

“In Britain, we are very lazy and we expect everyone to speak English when we go somewhere on holidays or for business…”

I always point out that I, for one, have to disagree with this statement: I have been teaching French since 1991 in Scotland and have seen a lot of very motivated individuals, who undertake the study of French either for a short holiday or because they love France or for business related reasons…

There was never the sense, for me, that British people were particularly lazy, or that they were uninterested.

Do I think that languages should be promoted better at school? Definitely. I am also annoyed at the lack of grammar these days in the curriculum: grammar may seem evil and overrated, but I can assure you that it really helps if you want to speak in another language in a natural, fluent way. Unlike a parrot.

Anyway, here are some reasons for learning French given by my students in the past on their registration forms:

  • I’d like to be able to get by in France on my own
  • Switzerland!
  • I enjoy travelling and would hopefully like to move to France in a few years
  • I have a property in Nice
  • Plan to live in Paris for 2 months next year
  • To be able to communicate in another language in the hope that I can one day move abroad
  • To be able to speak French in France
  • Why not?
  • To have fun
  • To keep the brain occupied with something else than computers
  • I love the language
  • Rugby!
  • My interest and to assist with my work
  • For pleasure!
  • To try and maintain my level of French and also improve on it
  • I travel a lot and would like to live in a Francophone country.
  • Enjoyment: keep up skills and knowledge
  • Because one day I will be fluent
  • My girlfriend is French and I want to communicate with her family.
  • If I don’t keep practising I’ll forget it all

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why people want to take up French or brush up on their existing skills!

Some people just do it because it’s there – their own personal Everest if you may. Others  have a specific objective in mind: property, retirement, love, sporting events…

Learning another language is difficult and can be disheartening at the best of times: a few years ago I took up Russian in preparation for a trip on the Transsiberian. I have to say this was a truly humbling experience.

As a student, you do go through ups and downs: when you finally think you are beginning to ‘get it’, something else crops up, and you’re back to square 1… The other thing that really bugged me is: you practise things in class, bits of ‘conversation’ etc… Then, you arrive in the country and… You are lost! Can’t seem to do anything right! But in the end if you keep at it, you reap some rewards: you manage to buy your own train tickets, you have a kind of conversation with other people, you get a glimpse of the country from the inside, you compliment someone on the meal they have prepared in a language they understand (well, or kind of understand, given my half-baked Russian)… Just those little things make it all worthwhile…

Anyway… all this to say that learning another language is scary, but it is in no way insurmountable. It can even prove quite a fun and enjoyable hobby, if the conditions are right and the atmosphere in class is quite relaxed and friendly!

Should you wish to meet me, to know more about what levels I am offering this term, or for some advice, don’t hesitate to contact me!