Passage Jouffroy
Marais Café

French Language

Learning the French language is a challenge but one which is much easier the younger we are when we begin to make a serious effort to develop these skills. Naturally, the more we can hear and interact with a foreign language the more quickly we can pick up that language. It is important for students to understand that learning a foreign language requires a strong commitment and real discipline. And while some students seem to have more of a gift to learn a foreign language than others, it is always a process that takes time and one of the biggest struggles is coming to understand that mastery doesn’t happen immediately. When one first begins learning a new language it can be very exciting because we can learn so much so quickly but as we progress from a beginner to an intermediate level and beyond we sometimes feel like we’re no longer improving. It’s important for students to understand that mastery of a new language doesn’t happen over night and that when we start to feel discouraged those are the times when we have to push even harder to keep studying, keep trying to increase our knowledge to push through those challenging periods which can stop our progress.

The Value of Learning a Foreign Language

Sometimes learning a foreign language can be particularly challenging for native English speakers precisely because the English language has become the de facto international language of communication between people of different languages. For this reason, as well as the American primary and secondary education system often not encouraging serious study of foreign languages, American University students going abroad often have much less experience studying foreign languages than do students coming from other countries.

In spite of these difficulties, in today’s global world, it is clear that the value of understanding more than just one language will become increasingly more and more important for those looking to have the greatest employment opportunities.

Beyond the more practical reasons for wanting to learn foreign languages, there are many intangible qualities to be gained from knowing more than one language. Studies have shown that those who know two or more languages transform the structural aspect of their brains which leads to increased openness and creativity in all tasks.

French Language Online Resources

  • Radio France Internationale (Nice online site covering countless subjects in French along with helpful written transcripts)
  • BBC French (very complete site from BBC television with many tutorials on different subjects in French
  • NewsinSlowFrench.com (for those students who have a higher level of French, this is an interesting site which is what it suggests, a site talking about recent news events but in a more slowly spoken French!)
  • About.com (lots of links to online French lessons)
  • Le Nouvel Obs Verb Conjugation site. Not sure how to conjugate that French verb in the passé composé? Check out their site!

Other PICA pages which may interest you: