Take-A-Step Thursday #9 – Je De Floop Flee

I may not be able to carry a musical note to save my life but I’m sure no one could have such a terrible ear for languages as Joey did in this F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode (which by the way cracks me up hard EACH time I watch it!)

I am going to be a walking cliché right now and admit like millions of other French-language lovers how ‘sexy’ (as Rachel calls it) I find the language. Can’t help it. It certainly has a nice ring to it.

It has been far too many years than I can remember when I started taking an interest in French. The fact that I had amazing French-speaking colleagues from various parts of the world who would occasionally teach me a phrase or two at work just added fuel to the fire. But, as a certified procrastinator, I never did anything more about it. So far, this is the extent of my conversational French after which there are some very long pauses and awkward silences:

Bonjour, ça va?
Ça va, bien. Merci. Et toi?
Ça va très bien. Merci.

After living in the U.A.E all my life and studying Arabic for 8 years in school, I am ashamed to say I never picked it up. Even after all this time, I still cannot say, “Where’s the bathroom?” in Arabic. I can read and write the language, but I cannot understand or speak it. One of the reasons is because everyone here speaks English all the time due to the large number of expatriate population from all parts of the world. Hence, a huge majority have no idea of simple Arabic conversational phrases even though they’ve lived here for many years and studied it in school. Learning a language academically never seems to do the trick.

But this post is not about my failures as an Arabic speaker. This is about me on a quest to learn French, one of the most ‘romantic’ yet seemingly difficult languages. I’d started and stopped and re-started this mission so many times but always gave up after just one YouTube lesson or two because I didn’t have a proper plan or the right motivation.

Ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” In the past few days, I’ve read so many resources on the best ways to tackle learning a language and all of them said the same things: Set a specific goal, make mini-goals to tackle the language, speak from Day 1, don’t focus on grammar immediately and make mistakes!

Benny Lewis, the Irish Polyglot, even goes ahead and says in a TEDx talk about how he declared to everyone he knew that he was learning a language, because that motivated him to pick it up faster. I’m wired the same way so here’s a public declaration of my goal:

To be able to speak (and read) a conversational level of French in 6 months by November 20th 2015.

Bite-sized goals for the first month:

1. Learn 5 new French words daily with their gender and write them down on old-fashioned flashcards and post-it notes using this technique. This is to be able to recognise everyday surrounding things, places and people. I might even try Anki, a flashcard program which so many rave about.
2. Watch one conversational video daily for everyday phrases. A popular YouTube resource is Learn French with Alexa. Here are some particularly hilarious situational videos to learn French.
3. At least thrice a week, watch a French film or an English film that I have already watched – in French. Or watch a short TV series everyday to absorb the sounds of the language.
4. Start using Duolingo again from the top. The site has more explanations than the app.
5. Ask one of my French-speaking friends if she could help me by speaking to me only in French for about 15-20 minutes everyday.

I was very inspired by these other amazing polyglots – Sid Efromovich and Chris Lonsdale, as well as found some very cool language learning tips from these two YouTube channels – COOLifeDesign an ivymuse.

Here are some great blogs and websites for lots of valuable lessons, tips and resources for learning French as well as other languages:
1. Fluentu
2. Fluent in 3 Months
3. French Together
4. The Everyday Language Learner – This has a great free email course called The Ten Week Journey that will help you to start pursuing the language you want to speak.

Wow, it all seems like an impossible feat to me even as I write this post. But, I am more prepared now to start learning it actively instead of just wishing about it. I am also not delusional about French grammar. From what I’ve read, it can be quite daunting (and I’ve never been strong with grammar rules anyway!) But I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. For now, let’s get started! And as Joey would say, “Dude c’mon, French it uuuup!”

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Have you picked up a language recently? I would love to hear your tips and suggestions to help me on this quest. 🙂

How have you been inspired this week? Participate in Take-A-Step Thursday by following the steps mentioned in this post.

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
You can also follow me on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads and BlogLovin’

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8 thoughts on “Take-A-Step Thursday #9 – Je De Floop Flee

  1. kate ruth says:

    Sounds like a very solid plan! I need to steal some of your tips to help me pick my Spanish back up — I studied it all through high school and college and regretfully haven’t used it since. Busting out the old flashcards actually sounds kinda fun…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thistles and Whistles says:

      It would be awesome if you joined in too! Would love a language learning buddy – it could help us both be accountable! Learning a new language does seem a bit intimidating to me right now, but I am just trying to take it slow enough to enjoy the process without worrying about too many details. Do you have any tips you could share with me as to how you learned Spanish in school? Muchas Gracias! 😀


      • kate ruth says:

        Having a learning buddy certainly helps! I’d love to join in — I could definitely use the accountability. Starting slow is definitely a good idea. It can be a little overwhelming when you realize how much you have to learn, but starting with the basics and not getting too hung up on everything you don’t know definitely helps. When I was in school, one of the first things we learned beyond colors, numbers and some other simple vocab was conjugating the verb for “to be.” Once you have that, you can actually start forming some really basic sentences which is kind of exciting. And lastly, I would say practice as much as possible. Speaking the language with someone is really what’s going to help you learn the fastest. Buena suerte!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thistles and Whistles says:

        Welcome, study buddy ! That’s a great tip that you gave, thanks ! I was learning some basics like, ‘I am a beginner in French’ without paying attention to the verb. It makes sense to learn how to conjugate it from the very beginning so that I can form many other sentences beyond the basics. Let’s do this ! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Katharine Marie says:

    I just found this blog today, and I love the inspirational idea! I’ll be joining in on Monday.

    What a great plan for the language-learning! It actually inspires me to get back on that boat. I spent six weeks in Europe recently, and picked up so many things just by reading signs and maps and menus. But that’s my experience.. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thistles and Whistles says:

      Thank you so much Katherine ! Happy to have e-met you and so happy that you’re joining in with me on this language learning journey ! Your trip sounds exciting, which countries did you visit and which culture and language did you find most fascinating ? 😀


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