A momentous travel decision in my life has finally been made. In anticipation of our one week stay in Paris, next week, I am overjoyed that I finally have decided to “bite the bullet” and learn to speak a bit of French. Conditioning myself to spend an hour or two each day for several months now, I have appeared to accomplish this goal by obtaining a decent grasp of French vocabulary. Such efforts are thus described as follows:
Duolingo Free App
Using Duolingo as a game strategy keeps me motivated from a learning perspective. Each lesson contains visual cues, audio pronunciations, and ample opportunities to earn (instead of buy) valued gems” for prolonged playing time. Formidable challenges, however, are built into the program as one progresses from simple to more complex phrases. In particular, too many errors made on a given lesson results in an immediate cut off from free access for the remainder of a given day. For the most part, spelling for accuracy presents the greatest challenge for me as I attempt to move ahead to longer French phrases ( eg. Qu’est-ce que c’est).To alleviate my stress, I also use the Duolingo website option which offers a similar format as the app with “unlimited” completion time. As a result of these efforts , Duolingo reports that I have achieved 48% proficiency in French.
Duolingo Tiny Cards
Flipping cards in fast pace fashion to learn meanings and pronounce sets of words helps me immensely. I enjoy the pleasant pings and happy smiles that appear every time I get a word or phrase correct. Such required memory for detail required here reminds of my childhood passion to recite hitting/pitching statistics on the back of my beloved baseball cards. As a side note, I would recommend using Tiny Cards on occasions when the app version disqualifies one from further playing time.
Learn The Culture
To learn a new language, it makes sense to immerse oneself in real, cultural situations. In watching foreign films, I have thus become a captive observer of time/place for dialogue cues in street scenes , cafe seatings, and times of confrontation. For example, the character portrayed by Julie Delpy in the touching dramas “Before Midnight” and “Before Sunrise” seemed helpful for me to understand Parisian norms of when and how to speak formally or informally to convey a growing friendship accompanied by times of dissatisfaction.
Color Coded Cheat Sheets
The convenient app, Google Translate, enables me to instantly convert my English to French as needed. Finding a need to stimulate my memory more actively, however, I also write my own paper translations of such online provided phrases. In color coding my lists by category, I can take quick peeks at the appropriate phrase on my cheat sheet list in language challenged situations.
To feel the passion yet sophistication of the French language seems wonderfully empowering to this independent traveler. To know that awkward silence in the face of French interaction challenges in the past can be replaced by intuitive understanding and proactive conversation on my part is equally exciting. It might feel right then to say: “J’aime apprendre comme je cherche la bonne vie à l’étranger.”