If you have seen my vlogs on YouTube, you probably know that recently I went to France for two weeks to do a language course. I also stayed with a French host family, which was definitely a great experience. So in this blog post I am going to talk about the whole language learning process that I went through in these two weeks. I thought it might be useful for some of you who want to learn a language and go to the country where it’s spoken. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments, I would be happy to help you and give you some more details.
So the reason this whole trip was possible, is my university. I study 3 languages and one of them is French, which I started from beginner’s level last year. I took an accelerated course, which means that I jumped two language stages in a year. The pace of this course was really fast, and I enjoyed it a lot because it was challenging. I always like to learn languages as quickly as possible, but it also means that I didn’t have the chance to fully process my knowledge. I know it is completely normal to not be able to speak much after learning a language for only a year, but I always felt behind everyone else in my class. So when we were told about the opportunity of coming to France for two weeks I got very excited, because I knew that it would help me get more comfortable with the language.
Honestly, I didn’t practice at all during the summer before going to France. I kind of forgot many things that I’ve learned at university, mostly the grammar. I was terrified before going even though I knew that I will learn a lot in France. The first couple of days were actually okay. I didn’t really speak much, just a couple of words with the host family. They told me I would speak fluently after two weeks, and I believed them. We started going to a language school every day from 10am to 1pm, and it was difficult, but I thought I can deal with it. Basically I just thought that I would magically learn to speak French in a couple days, but it didn’t happen that way.
The B1 level language course turned out to be way too difficult for me, as I ended up just looking around in silence when I was supposed to be working. I didn’t understand anything from the tasks I was given, and I just wanted to revise all the grammar that I forgot. So we talked to the teacher and we were put in a different group at A2 level. And it was so much better! We learned a lot of vocabulary that I could actually use outside of the class, and revised some parts of grammar that I have never been really sure about. The teacher was an elegant French woman, very fashionable and confident; her lessons were really cool and enjoyable. When I went home in the afternoon, I did the homework while listening to music and I just really enjoyed the course.
The communication with my host family, on the other hand, did not go very well. Because they told me that I would speak after a while, it kind of became a pressure on me. I thought that if I was supposed to be talking, why can’t I still talk? My anxiety came into the picture and then it was just done. I refused to speak, except for the occasional Bonjour and Merci. They probably thought that I was rude, but really I felt like there was a wall in front of me that prevented me from speaking in French. And I didn’t manage to make it disappear.
Let’s just concentrate on the positive side of things, though! I was able to order food in restaurants in French (at least when I could be bothered to make an effort). I definitely got more comfortable with the language. After a while it became normal to hear French words on the streets and saying Bonjour to everyone. I really enjoyed being in France, and it gave me motivation to study. After this, I will definitely make extra efforts during my second year at university.
If you want to learn a language quickly, I would definitely recommend visiting the country where it’s spoken. I definitely learned a lot, and it’s very important to be surrounded by the language for a while. And the fact that I didn’t really speak much doesn’t bother me at all, because I know that I just need a bit more time and practise. I will definitely get there one day! French is not one of the easiest languages.
What about you? What are your experiences with language learning? How did you come over your difficulties? Let me know in the comments, I would love to have a chat about it!