Coming from India, not knowing a foreign language is almost normalized; as there are more than 25 languages spoken across the country. One either sticks to Hindi (a popularly understood language all over India) or English (also one of the official languages of India). However, it is indeed frustrating when I go to another province in my own country and run the risk of not being able to communicate effectively or even get simple things done due to language barriers. Not knowing a foreign language can be painful and so can be the inability to speak the language you are in love with!
About two decades ago, for some forgotten romantic reason I fell in love with French and decided to pursue it. I biked to the nearest book store and purchased a French for beginner’s book. It’s grammar rules almost immediately turned me off. What do you expect from a child? Children do not give up on their dreams easily. My feeble attempts led me to learn a few words which I dare not speak in front of anyone as I did not know how to pronounce it. In addition to that, I was also struggling to learn English which further nipped my hopes of speaking this beautiful language anytime soon.
What do you expect from a child? Children do not give up on their dreams easily.
A few years later, when I was in University, I found myself looking at a “Teach Yourself French Kit” with a Book and CDs. I immediately purchased it and this time with a lot more determination. I reduced socializing with my friends and practiced French instead. The results were a lot better. But this Kit completely lacked grammatical explanations which led me to spend considerable time clarifying my doubts on the internet and feeling hopeless.
I was again running the risk of being lost in my pursuit, when my brother introduced me to Duolingo, a free language learning website, which rescued my dreams. I literally worshipped the website and practiced everyday. I improved my pronunciation and vocabulary considerably. And finally started to understand the grammatical rules of French. What do you think happened afterwards? I mastered French? Certainly not. I lost my tempo!
I was burned out. I wanted to learn the language but my brain needed a break. So I obliged, I took a break. The wonderful thing about our supercalifragilisticexpialidocious brain is that it does not forget things you have practiced. Even when if you seem to have forgotten things, when you review or revise it, it comes back to you at a surprisingly fast rate.
Once my brain was satisfactorily refreshed, I got back to my French game, and I again improved considerably. Over the period of time I burned out twice but I got back to it. My skills have considerably improved. With the help of Duolingo, I have been able to express myself in French, ask questions, hold up a conversation and and even meet fellow French learners. Over the period, Duolingo also improved as it added good quality stories, competitions, virtual clubs and podcasts. These free resources are any language learner’s dream come true.
I am still pursuing French and will continue to do so until I can quench my thirst for French literature, music, recipes and things I do not know about. I now practice regularly with my friends and it is a fulfilling and hilarious experience, especially when we make mistakes.
You might begin to think that I could have sped up the learning process by taking professional help. That is true to an extent, but where I come from, I do not know anyone who could teach me the language without Indianized version of French. Moreover, over the time I have also realized that learning cannot be rushed or standardized, I needed to understand my learning patters and be ready learn voluntarily, instead of being a part of some strict regime which helps me pass all the exams but takes the fun out of it.
So what did I learn from my experience the I want to share with you? I have learnt that language learning a time-taking process and you can learn any language as long as you are headstrong. If you have learnt a language it shows that you are patient, persistent, strong-willed, more cultured and awesome! Learning language is also quite fun if don’t do it all alone; use social media and awesome initiatives like Duolingo to meet fellow language learners, inspire each other, make group goals and achieve it together and play language games together.
If you have learnt a language it shows that you are patient, persistent, strong-willed, more cultured and awesome!
Remember three things: Be headstrong – Meet fellow language learners – Have fun. Language learning is an exhilarating experience and being able to talk to foreigner in their tongue is something you definitely want to add to your bucket list.
Bonne chance et à bientôt ❤
( Good luck and see you soon in French ❤ )
If you know someone who loves learning languages or want to encourage someone to learn a language, don’t forget to share my story.
For you information: This is NOT a sponsored blog post. The author has merely shared her personal experiences and expressed her perspective.