The French Lessons Begin

Multilingual Connections

The third time is supposed to be the charm, right?

Maybe in other things, but not so much with languages. At least not so far.

French is the third foreign language I’m trying to learn, after six years of Spanish in high school/college and three years of Russian in college, plus studying it during my career break. I thought that it might be easier this time around, but so far not so much. Learning French has been hard!

I’m taking a class once a week with Multilingual Connections, where I kicked off learning French back in July with a day-long boot camp. It’s on Thursday nights for about two hours and really, it’s pretty great. There’s just six of us in the class (give or take a couple, there seems to be someone new and someone missing each week) and our instructor, Allison, is upbeat and makes things quite fun. We spend time on grammar and new vocabulary each week and Allison usually works in some sort of fun interactive activity that drives home some of the new points we’re working on.

She also does a spelling exercise where she says a sentence and asks us to write down what we think she said in French. I am pretty horrible at this. As she speaks, the words all run together and I can’t tell where one word ends and the next begins. I suppose that’s part of what makes French pretty beautiful once you get to know it, but for someone just starting out, it’s frustrating as heck! Whereas with Spanish and Russian, I can hear a word and generally know how to spell it, I hear something in French and have almost no clue. Yet somehow, I usually understand at least the gist of what Allison is saying even if I can’t make out the individual words.

Multilingual classroom

On the flip side, my pronunciation is horrible. If I had anything to complain about with the classes it would be that we don’t spend more time on pronunciation. I’m immediately inclined to pronounce words as they are said in Spanish, which is usually wrong. And then I seem to always guess wrong – I guess that consonants are silent when they actually aren’t and vice versa. It can be frustrating and it’s the opposite of my experience with Russian and Spanish.

I have to admit that it also hasn’t helped that I have been insanely busy the last few weeks since I have started class – as a result, I haven’t spent nearly as much time outside of class practicing my French as I should. And you really can’t learn a language unless you are practicing a lot. Having class at 8:00 p.m. at the end of the work week is tough too as I am usually exhausted by the time I get there!

I’m missing class next week while I’m in Bulgaria and then will just have three more classes left in this session. I hope I’ll have time to study more the next few weeks and make more progress than I have so far. I’ve asked Allison about other resources to work on listening and pronunciation, so I want to try some of those as well. Despite the difficulties, it has been a good class and I can definitely recommend Multilingual to anyone so far.

Stay tuned for another update in a few weeks…

Photos courtesy of Multilingual Connections; my French Beginner II class has been provided by Multilingual on a complimentary basis, but my opinions are always my own.

Sign up for a class of your own this summer/fall using the code KATIE19 and get $19 off the price of tuition!


4 thoughts on “The French Lessons Begin”

  1. Aaah, someone else who finds French more difficult than Russian! French pronunciation just kills me. But I’m jealous that you’re on your way to mastering it – good luck!

  2. I love learning new languages; it’s so much fun plus challenging. I took French in school but am not really bilingual. I’d love to brush up on it. I also know Russian: such a great and interesting language! Good luck with the French (or bonne chance)!

  3. I took French in high school and college. At the time, I just tried to emulate a French accent when I spoke. I think it helped. My accent is far from perfect,but I definitely don’t sound horrible when I speak. One more piece of advice, search for French groups. They’re pretty active across the States.

  4. I am envious of you as I love french. I hope you get the time to study but I understand as life and work is crazy.
    Here in Canada our 2nd language is french (Montreal french that is) and I took it all the way from grade 1 to 12. Then I continued 1st year university but then stopped for…I don’t know why. Something I truly regret. Maybe one day I will get back to it.

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