I am in my fourthish month of learning French. At times I get so frustrated. I know that learning a new language is not something done in a week or even months, but when I feel like I’m making progress, I hear someone speak French on TV or in person and only get a single word or two. I have considered getting Rosetta Stone to help me in my endeavor, but the price is a bit high for me right now. I have been using Duolingo on my iPad and lessons on Youtube, while watching French children’s television shows on Youtube.

A few months ago, I had the idea of learning French while talking to a lady at my work who speaks fluently and was actually a translator for the United Nations at one time. I have expressed my idea in a previous blogs about the reason for wanting to pursue another language. It is on my “bucket list” to ride in France one day, while I see the Tour de France live. On a teacher’s salary, this will probably only happen once. When it does actually happen, I want the experience to be full throttle, not piecemealing French and asking people if they speak English. I enjoy the language and have a passion to learn; in all actuality it has almost evolved into an obsession. Watching the World Cup, I am amazed how well people speak English and the extent of their vocabulary. I am aware that most countries teach English from a very early age, but I read time and time again that it’s never too late. It is quite strange how many negative comments I get at work about learning, when I’m in an academic setting. Many people have told that the French will become frustrated with me and not talk or that it is a wasted language where I live or I am too old to learn or simply that it is a waste of time since everyone pretty much speaks English.  I don’t care. It’s what I want to do.

Here are a few of the problems that I am having:

  1. When I listen to someone speak in French, I can only catch tiny bits of words, and by the time I catch a few, the person is already another sentence or two ahead. Yes, I know how to say speak slowly, but who wants to talk to a five year old?
  2. IF the person is speaking to me in French, my brain vapor locks. That is the only way to explain it. My mind is interpreting what is being said, while it is also flipping through words to formulate a response . . . result? Nothing comes out.
  3. I am struggling with the best way to learn the language, in respect to computer software and the like. In my current endeavors, I’m trying to immerse myself from different angles.

Maybe I am going about things all wrong, but it just started bothering me last night when my wife rented Three Days to Kill. I picked up one . . . yes, one thing in French; it was when a random man introduces his wife to someone. I don’t know. Maybe I’m rushing things. I am aware that I’m not going to read Les Miserables in French in four months, but since I’m probably the only person within a 1,000 miles radius that is learning French, it is hard to calculate my gains. I don’t have thousands of people that follow my blog, but I am asking for help if there is any out there that could give some tips and advice. Merci!


6 thoughts on “Parler

  1. Du courage, mon ami, du courage! C’est bien difficile à apprendre une langue aux USA–pour bien l’apprendre, il faut habiter ou on parle la langue. Mais il n’est pas impossible! Voici trois “règles”:
    1. Il faut passer une heure (min) chaque jour dédié à la langue. C’est fatigant, oui, c’est difficile, oui, mais il faut le faire.
    2. Essaie à lire à haute voix aussitôt que possible.
    3. Quand tu écoutes quelqu’un qui parle français (à la télé, sur l’ordinateur, ou dans une conversation réelle), essaie à comprendre le message entier, pas tous les mots individuels.

    1. That is GREAT advice! I have been spending about that amount of time each day. About the reading part, should I learn to read as well? I thought just speaking first then moving into that area. I’m just asking. Again, thanks again for all of your help. Je vais vous parler bientôt!

  2. I understand your passion and frustration completley. I am attempting the same feat with Swiss German…vapor lock is a perfect way to describe my feebleness when listening to conversations. Keep at it mate, we’ll get there!

  3. it’s not a waste, really, french people outside tourist hotspots will appreciate your efforts and might not actually know much english. my tip is watch the news for politcal speeches – get TV5 for the news – politicians address the electorate like children, speaking slowly and using simlpe language, terrible for voters, good for language learners

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