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It's official - I've been studying French for one year. In light of having reached this milestone in my journey, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what I've learned thus far.
What it's been like learning a language I had no prior knowledge of
Thanks to my TEFL course, I learned that a big theme in teaching is building on what your students already know - their prior knowledge - no matter what that may be. To put that into context, I started studying French a year ago and knew nothing about the language a part from saying salut et à bientôt, which I learned thanks to a survival-type French video I saw on YouTube one time. This was very different to when I started studying Italian 10 years ago, a language that I already knew pretty well prior to studying it formally. So what did I do? I constantly made connections between something new I was learning in French to something similar I already knew in Italian. This made learning French a lot easier than it might have been had I not already known another Romance Language.
What it's been like learning a language as an adult versus as a child
I was 23 years old when I started learning French and 13 years old when I formally started learning Italian. There is definitely a difference between learning a language as an adult versus as a child and there are pros and cons to each. The main thing that sticks out to me when considering this difference is life experience. From a cultural standpoint, as an adult you're better able to understand different cultures and ways of thinking than when you were a child. From a language learning standpoint, as an adult you're better able to make connections between the language you're studying and some prior knowledge you have because you've been exposed to and done more.
What I've been doing to study French
At first I went to YouTube and sought out websites for information to get started. My favorite YouTube channels for French are:
Learn French with Alexa. Alexa has excellent grammar videos done in English. She speaks slowly and enunciates well (sometimes more than I think is necessary, but that's not a bad thing).
Français avec Pierre. Everything from grammar to listening comprehension, Pierre's got it all. All of this videos are in French and he speaks slowly but still at a natural pace.
FrenchPod101. They've got the best listening comprehension playlists around! I suggest the Italian version of their comprehension videos to my students all the time.
A part from YouTube, I use the app HelloTalk everyday to talk to native French speakers. I'm a massive fan of having pen pals and have had tremendous success with them for both French and Italian. I also take lessons with my French teacher once a week. I find having a teacher to be very helpful and I'll talk more about it in a future blog post.
how i stayed motivated and what's next
After several months of studying French on my own, I felt I needed something to help keep me motivated and to guide me as I studied. It was at that point that I signed up for lessons with my private teacher. Having a private teacher isn't for everyone, but it's been working for me and has helped take my French to the next level.
I've made more progress in a year that I thought I would. I'm at the point where I can carry a conversation in French pretty well. In my first year of studying Italian I also did pretty well, but my problem back then was I didn't have the best teachers for my learning style and I didn't have as many great online resources as I do today. I also took Italian classes in a traditional classroom setting as opposed to one-on-one lessons. I find I do better with one-on-one lessons for the conversational and customized aspects of them.
If you want to hear more about what I think about studying a language as an adult versus as a child, check out my video my clicking here. It's a video done all in Italian. For all of my Italian friends, I'm aware I made a few small mistakes in grammar. It happens all the time when I speak really fast and don't think too much before I speak ;)
Always remember to spread the love guys and thanks for reading this post!