Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Je Parle Français

Bonjour!  I'm back with another post that I hadn't planned on writing, but that I realized I needed to release into the world.  Earlier today, I took a giant leap forward in reaching one the of the personal goals that I've had set for myself and I'm super proud.

For years, I've wanted to re-learn French.  It's literally been on my annual personal goal list for as long as I started actually writing them down (at least since 2015... but probably before that).  I've had two college ruled five subject notebooks set aside to use for re-learning French (and learning Italian) for years.  

I loved learning French in high school and it was one of my favorite subjects.  I always thought it was so cool to speak in another language.  At my high school, you could pick between French and Spanish.  I chose French because it made more sense to me when Maine is so close to Canada.  (We have a lot of French Canadian speakers visit in the summer.)  While I originally took French because two years of foreign language was required for the college track, I fell in love with it.

It's amazing how much I still remember even though high school French was forever ago.  To this day, I can still remember more than I give myself credit for.  I took three years of French in high school and I was pretty good by the end of it.  I could read it and write it very well, and I was pretty confident with speaking it, even though I was a bit self-conscious about it. 

My junior year of high school, I traveled to France on our high school French trip.  Most of the people that we encountered in France also spoke English, but there were a few people in more remote towns that didn't.  It was great to communicate with them through the French that I knew.  Most of the people we spoke to were friendly about us trying- even if they responded to us in English.  And I'll never forget when my friends volunteered me to ask the information desk for directions at the Louvre.

By my third French class, I was having dreams in French.  My teacher told me that was a good thing.  I was really proud of myself and how well I understood it.  

Then came freshman year of college.  Someone who was close to me at the time made me doubt everything.  His mother had lived in New Orleans and she knew how to speak French fluently.  He had also taken French in high school, and he had something to say about everything when I spoke it.  My pronunciation was wrong, I wasn't using the correct accents, etc.  It bothered me more than I should have let it.  

I had wanted to continue my French learning and education, but our college didn't offer it as a technology school.  I thought about taking it at one of our sister schools, but their schedules didn't line up with ours.  In the end, I couldn't find a class, so I gave up.

Photo from my Duolingo app

After college (and after I rid myself of that person's opinions) I looked into my heart and I knew that I wanted to pursue learning French again. 

I've wanted to take adult education French classes since I got out of college, but my schedule never allowed for it.  The language classes were always at night, when I was working at the furniture store or the chiropractic office.

In April of 2020, when the world was shutting down and going into quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, I bought three French textbooks on Amazon.  The first two were the same textbooks that we used to learn French in high school, and the third one was the last one in that collection.

You might recall that I signed up for classes on uDemy in April of 2020 as well.  Most of them were crafting classes, but one of them was French.  While I still I haven't had time to get into them, that is part of my whole "balance" word of the year for 2022 plan.

Photo from my Duolingo app

The past few weeks, I've also seen an increasing number of advertisements for the language app Duolingo.  Downloading it has been on my mind more each time I see one.  The other day, I read a Facebook post from someone I follow saying how she's been using Duolingo daily for the past 6 months and that she can now comprehend small phrases in French.  She's been reading a book and she now understands most of what one of the characters is saying.  That got me thinking about how when I watch shows with French characters, I understand bits of it.  It also reminded me of how much more I understand when watching Beauty and the Beast.  (There's a joke in the "Belle" song from the 2017 live action movie that always cracks me up.)

Which brings me to today.  This afternoon, I finally stopped what I was doing and I downloaded Duolingo.  The first thing they have you to is set up your profile.  Since I know a little bit of French, my first task was to take a simple test to see what stage I was at.  That way, the app wouldn't start me at the very beginning, but a little bit into it.

Photo from my Duolingo app

The goal of the app is to get onto streaks.  Each day, you do one lesson where you study the language for 10 minutes, and you get a point towards your streak.  I've already done two, and I'm planning to do another one before bed.  This is the perfect way to take a few minutes for myself when I wake up or as I'm going to bed.  It's also a great way to pass time when you're waiting for someone to go on a rollercoaster... a situation that I'm going to find myself in during our trip to Disneyland in a few days.  I'm so excited that I can be learning French while waiting for Eliot instead of mindlessly scrolling on Facebook or Instagram!

This app has opened a whole new world.  In my mind, I've always seen myself as having to set aside time to re-learn French.  I've seen myself sitting in a more formal setting at the kitchen table with my textbooks, notebook, French dictionary and laptop surrounding me.  With the Duolingo app, my textbook is literally in my pocket.  I can take my phone anywhere with me.  And you can do it in small bursts of 10 minutes at a time, or you can keep doing multiple 10 minute sessions.  It's totally flexible!

Photo from my Duolingo app

The best part is that I've already passed my first lessons with flying colors.  It's all coming back to me.  I can read it, I can understand the app speaking it and I can still write it.  I've started to repeat the phrases so I get more confident speaking it.  I've even caught myself muttering a few phrases this afternoon when I haven't been on the app.  And most important, I feel confident about it.  

Today is the start of another wonderful chapter!  I'm finally re-learning French and I feel amazing about it!  Je m'appelle Melissa et je parle français!!!  °o°

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