Long story short- I started French in middle school (at age 12) as my language elective, took AP French in high school, and became truly passionate about French in college after taking my first class there. I studied abroad in France twice, went to graduate school for a Master’s in Literary Translation (French into English), and worked as a French translator for a short time. I still do French translation as a side job and volunteer translate as well.
First off, I’m so happy that I have access to French culture, media, and friends through the French language. It is a big part of my life that I’m glad I’ve managed to keep up over the years. I may not currently be using French in my day job, but I get to use it in my day-to-day life anyway.
So, after my school days and as an adult, how has it been learning and using my French?
In the past few years, I have tried to visit France every other year for vacation. In the 2 months or so leading up to my trip, I prioritize my French language practice and expose myself to as much French as possible. When I arrive in the country, I push through my nervousness and make sure to speak it as much as I can. It can be hard to know that you’re going to make mistakes, but do it anyway. You don’t improve if you don’t practice! I know this, so I fake my confidence when I speak, and I do my best. I might still write in my travel journal in English, but I try to watch French movies, read a French paperback, and engage in French as much as possible when I’m in the country too.
Then when I come back, I take notes and think about things that might be good to work on (vocabulary that I realized I was missing, or certain grammar structures that I used as a crutch and need to branch out from).
The last time I visited France was in fall 2018. I went on a vacation to Arles mainly, and then spent a few days visiting Avignon, Marseille, and Paris as well. It was a lovely vacation where I really made sure to relax on some days, and also saw & experienced a lot on other days.
Since my 2019 trip to Rome, I haven’t travelled internationally. Looking forward to when things are better! But in the meantime, really, how has it been going to practice & use my French?
Comme çi, comme ça? So so?
I don’t practice speaking as much these days. That’s obviously a common thread throughout my writing here. I used to occasionally visit a French conversation group in my city, but I’m still being cautious about in-person events these days and some events are cancelled until further notice.
I have a few Francophile friends in-person, and sometimes we’ll chat in French together! I worry that my French has become rusty, but I always try my best when chatting with them. I have a few French friends online that I keep in touch with somewhat, and we write e-mails back and forth. They don’t always write in French to me though, so I’m not sure if this counts as practice if it’s one-sided in French haha.
On the flipside, I’ve been keeping in touch with the language in the ways that I’m drawn to it. By reading fiction novels- whether a physical paperback from my collection that I’ve bought in France over the years or buying an e-book to download. By watching movies, tv shows, and French news online. By listening to podcasts (there are a number of cool Quebecois podcasts I’ve checked out recently), youtube videos, and upcoming French music. By reading blogs, articles online (whether news, fashion, or current events), and French instagram profiles (either native or learners). It was also really cool to hear French spoken in the Olympics this year, when I watched different sporting events.
Over the years, my amount of practice time that I have given to French has waxed and waned, but that’s normal in life. You adapt to the other factors in your day to day, and life goes on.
So long as I’m having fun, I’m able to continue keeping up my French practice and enjoy the long-earned French skills that I have.
À la prochaine xx