So, I’ve Decided to Learn French! | Basic Books & Resources to Get Started

So, I’ve decided to do something that I’ve always wanted to do, which is to learn French fluently. I have this “crazy” vision of myself sitting in a cafe in Paris speaking French fluently with the locals. I’d love to visit a Creole restaurant in New Orleans and actually be able to pronounce the dishes. I’d like to read original texts in French without the need to translate them to English. I actually don’t think it’s crazy, but other people seem to think so.

When I excitedly posted on my Facebook page that I was going to begin studying French, I had one person make a wisecrack that basically said it was dumb to learn French in while living Houston, Texas, since “not a lot of people in Houston speak French.” See, this is why it’s not always good to share your dreams. When I get excited about something, I like to talk about it, but people can quickly kill your excitement, even when they don’t mean to.

I’m not limited to only the people in Houston, Texas (where, by the way, many languages, including French, are spoken). There are over 140 million people in the world that speak French. There are many nations that have French as their official language, and there is nothing stopping me from visiting or studying in France. But, I didn’t bother to try to explain all of this. Instead, I stayed focused on my goal and began studying French right away while envisioning myself using the language in all of the places where I want to be.

One resource that I always have with me is my phone, so I looked for an app to help me study French. Right away, I discovered Duolingo. Duolingo is a website and app that provides a free way to learn different languages. It’s kind of like a free version of Rosetta Stone. (Though, the two companies are not affiliated.) It’s interactive and it’s really easy and fun to use! It also sends reminders to study your chosen language daily, and I’ve been studying just about every day since I made this commitment.

I also need tangible books to read, so I went to the bookstore and picked up two books to get me started on learning about France and the French language. I picked up a book called Living Abroad France by Aurelia D’Andrea. This books talks about all things French that a traveler or expat might need to know. I also picked up another, smaller resource that can I can carry in my pocketbook called French Phrasebook & Dictionary by Lonely Planet. They had a bunch of phrasebooks at the store, but this one has a lot of pictures! I’m a very visual learner, so I need to look at pictures, which is actually a better way to learn languages. It also had modern phrases like, “What’ the WiFi code?”

Another book that I already had is Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner. He’s an opera singer and language learner, who shares his techniques for learning languages quickly and for learning how to make them stick. This is a bit of a technical resource, so I haven’t dived too deeply into it yet, but I think it will be a good resource in the long-run because I want to learn how to speak multiple languages over time.  Thre is also a website to compliment the book:

Besides books, I also love journals. I couldn’t resist picking up this journal to jot down my thoughts and goals as I learn the language. It’s a good way to also write out some concepts and phrases to reinforce them. That’s one of the techniques that is discussed in Fluent Forever. I’ll be making my own flash cards as well once I return from my vacation.

Lastly, I’ll also be taking classes. (I told you, I’m serious about this endeavor!) I signed up for beginner French classes locally, so I can actually practicing having conversations in French! I’ll have actually study and grammar books included with the class. Once I get those, I’ll share them as well.

t’s going to be a lot of work to actually become fluent, but I think it will be a lot of fun. I would advise anyone interested in learning languages to utilize a wide range of resources, and don’t be afraid to get out and have fun with your new language-learning pursuit!




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