10 years in France but no French

10 years in France but still no French

A few months ago, I met someone who was living in France for 10 years and since he didn’t need French for work – he worked in the wine business industry -, he didn’t practice it and / or didn’t find it necessary to learn it.

A few days ago, the same situation happened: a man called and said that his wife, who moved in a few years ago now, just found it necessary to take French lessons in Dijon because she faces difficulties to get a job. He wanted to know how I could help.

😱OK.

I decided that I am not the right teacher for this profile of learner. Do you know why?

I don’t know how to deal with them. Sincerely.

A teacher is only helpful when he joins you on the journey you started

Because the first question one needs to ask himself as soon as he arrives in a new country and by the way, as soon as he decides to move in another country* HAS to be:

*of course, I am not talking about a situation of emergency when people are forced to leave their home and migrate (they have all my respect 🙏)

What is MY personal strategy to learn the language?

A language is a key that will allow you to open the door of a new country / city / community and BECOME A PART OF IT.

Without the language, you stay at the door. 

Period.

So for your own good, please take a moment and write down things you like and hobbies you have, anything you want as long as they can fit the four skills and then keep doing them but in French: 

listening / talking

reading / writing

Do you like sports? Follow instagram accounts of famous local sport teams (in France: football, cycling, etc.).

Do you like make-up vloggers? Look for French Youtubers

Can you sew? Join a sewing group, etc.

Also, the very first thing you need to do as soon as you arrive in France is to go get a library card! 😍Most of the time, it’s cheap or even FREE such as in Dijon.

I am a huuuge fan and most of the books I read come from there!

You will be able to borrow plenty of books, DVDs, etc. in French, know more about local events, meet new people, have more confidence and one day, without even realizing it: you will be fluent! Of course, it’s a process: even natives make grammar mistakes, etc. it’s normal. 

To me, being fluent in French is not about knowing the language perfectly (who can do that?), it’s more about feeling comfortable because YOU BELONG HERE.

Do you know what I answered to the man asking for help on behalf of his wife?

I asked if they have children (yes) and why she didn’t call me herself (she speaks French a little but didn’t feel confident).

I said that I could obviously make them pay for French lessons but it would be wrong because it’s not the problem here.

I gave him the advice above and added that if you start a life in France, you are physically here but you need to ask yourself if you are MENTALLY here.

When you help your children with their homework in French, when you go to the library or attend local events as a family or when you challenge yourself with actions such as calling someone you don’t know to ask for information, it makes you BE IN CHARGE. 

So you feel more and more confident.

💪 And you don’t have time to look back because you are too busy looking forward and widening your comfort zone.