Learning French: A 30 Day Challenge

14 Oct

I watched a TED talk recently about 30 Day Challenges.  It inspired me to try a challenge myself.  I have some spare time, I might spend a bit too much time watching television or just browsing the internet.  (I might have watched about 20 hours of Ugly Betty in the last two weeks; I probably could have done something more productive at the very least, simultaneously, if not instead).  With the amount of free software, tutorials and courses available on the internet, I should be able to add or improve a new skill to my repertoire every 30 days. 

I have committed to learning as much French as I can in the next 30 Days.

I have been thinking about his for a while.  When I came to Korea I tried to learn some of the language so that I could do things like order food and talk to taxi drivers.  I studied pretty hard for a few months and it was really hard at times.  I don’t study much anymore because of a combination of things, life, laziness, contentment.

I know enough to read, order food and drink in a restaurant and to generally get by comfortably. Seoul is a very English friendly city, I know people who have lived year for over five years and can barely read a menu or say, “Hello.”  It just was not necessary.

I found that learning about the Korean language benefitted me for several reasons:

Everyday life was easier and I was more confident about the things I could do.

I was not nervous taking the subway or the bus because I could read and understand all of the stops (the subway is very English friendly, buses are not always).  I could order food and drinks at a restaurant.  I can tell a taxi driver where I wanted to go.  I could ask where the bathroom was and understand the directions I was being given.

It gave me a better understanding of the culture I was living in.

I was teaching very young children and I could make sense of the mistakes they were making in English because they were thinking in the context of the Korean language. Also, there are untranslatable words that give you insight into things that are important in one culture, but may not be in another.  Like, there is a special word for the top part of your foot.  A kid in my Tae Kwon Do class was trying to translate this part of his foot to explain a better kicking technique.  He kept pointing at it and I would say, “Foot. You are talking about your foot.”

“No, THIS part, “ he would respond, obviously annoyed that I was not understanding.  He knew the word for the whole foot, it was this particular part.

“The top part of your foot?”

“Yes, what is it called?”

“I don’t know, I never really talked about it before.  I guess I would just call it the top part of your foot.”

He was obviously not satisfied with this answer. Maybe there is a name for it.  The point is I did not know what it was. Whether there was a medical term for the top part of your foot, I do not know.  All I know is that I would not talk about it in normal conversation.  In a country where Tae Kwon Do originated, it makes sense that there is a name for that part of your foot.

Local people appreciated that I made the effort.

It is definitely more convenient to interact with someone who can understand at least a little bit of the language that you speak.  Many Korean people that I speak to seem very impressed and appreciative at even the minimal amount of Korean that I know.  I am immersed in their culture, I am interested and I want to make an effort to learn more about it. That’s understandable; I love to talk about what life was like growing up in Nova Scotia.  I especially like when people enjoy to hearing about it because I am going to tell them about it anyway.

Coffee coffee coffee

Studying a language can be a great excuse to have a really fancy overpriced drink. If you have a friend to share it with it is a fun way to spend an evening, especially when it is really cold outside and you can drink something hot and sweet.

Why did I stop studying Korean?  I have kind of given it up.  I learn a little bit here and there, I like to learn new phrases now and again.  But I am comfortable at the level that I am at and I know that I won’t live here much longer and that I will never be fluent.  I stopped because I was trying so hard to learn and moving forward very slowly.  I thought that if I put an effort into something else, I might have a useful skill in the future.

Now I am not saying that it is not useful to learn Korean.  Maybe one day I will have an opportunity to learn to speak Korean more fluently. If I had a job offer that required it, I would jump at the chance in a heartbeat!  Alas, it is just not something that I foresee, my efforts might be better spent towards learning a language that would put me further ahead in my career in the future.  I am a Canadian, that language is French.

French is one of the two official languages of Canada (the other language being English).  There are many languages spoken in Canada (Korean is most definitely one of them).  However, French is an official language and if I can speak French then my opportunities to work in Canada (which I eventually want to do) will most certainly increase.  I have always wanted to learn French; I have been exposed to the French language my whole life and I do know a little.  I can (will) become a French speaker.

I think that learning French will come a lot easier than Korean.  I learned a lot about learning languages when I was studying Korean and that will certainly come in handy.

This is my 30 Day Challenge to me: Learn as much French as possible using the resources that are free and readily available to me here.  These are the ones that I plan to use:

Memrise – a free, online language learning website and Android App

Duolingo – another free, online language learning website

Canoe.ca Android App – A Canadian News app to read news in French

Television Programs/Movies – I will keep a list of the ones that I watch that I have found useful

Bilingual Fiancée – I really have no excuse here.  He couldn’t speak the language when I met him now he is bilingual.

So I am going to start this challenge.  I will keep notes and update in 30 Days how my French has improved.

My Goal: Do something to enhance my french learning for at least 45 minutes everyday.  It can be a combination of things.  I will keep a log of what I do each day.

If you are also on Memrise my name is Jennytrips (I fall all the time, so this name is hilarious BTW) you can follow me and I would love to follow you back.

Is anyone else learning a language right now that has any tips, or would anyone like to join me in this 30 Day Challenge?

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9 Responses to “Learning French: A 30 Day Challenge”

  1. Nick October 14, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    Good luck with your French learning challenge! This is a really well written blog post by the way, I enjoyed reading it.

    Memrise and Duolingo are really good for learning French. I was them to learn French purely as a hobby, but at the moment I am focusing on Thai language.

    Don’t forget that Duolingo has an android app as well. My Duolingo username is 100percentnick if you want to add me, I’ll go back to using that site/app soon.

    Good luck once again!

  2. americanjulie October 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    This arrived at just the right moment. I just made my pre-reservations for the Tour de France bicycle trips and I need to learn French too. I also need to learn to ride my bike better, and a few jillion other things, so the Ted Talk was a great encouragement.

  3. andrzejluko October 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Good day!

    I too am on a journey to learn a language. I’ve been doing mine for about two weeks now, and I must say that I’ve advanced a lot. Something that I’ve done that I would like to share that has been working is listening to music. I’m learning Polish (although my time period is about six months) and one thing that has helped me pick up words is reading books and listening to the radio. I stream Polish radio over the internet through my computer and I actually picked up some kids story books to read. I’ve gone through two books now and I listen to the radio almost everyday and I’m actually starting to get the jist of what they are saying.

    I’d like to wish you the best of luck with your journey! Feel free to look at my blog (although all admit mine looks different than yours as I’m mixing english and polish as I write/learn). I hope that you learn a lot and your progress becomes useful in your everyday life!

    -Andrzej

    • jackofalltrips October 20, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

      Thank you fort the advice! I will definitely start streaming radio, that is a great idea!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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