New Year's Resolution? Learn a New Language!

Happy New Year, or in French, Bonne année !

My New Year's Resolution Success Story
Sono in Italia ancora! 
Last New Year I was in Verona, Italy with a very special Italian girl. My Italian was very mediocre to the point where it became apparent my only exposure was on the flight over. I stunk at understanding people and worse, I couldn't really communicate without using English. As I watched the fireworks crackle over the huge crowd I made a vow to return to Italy and be better at Italian. It would be so cool to speak French fluently and then have some Italian on the side!

Fast forward one year. Not only am I eating great food and drinking great wine with the locals, but I understand so much! My comprehension skills have gotten better, ten fold, while my ability to express myself through words is improving everyday that I'm over here. I've received many compliments and was even told I have a "French" Italian accent (not an American one, so I guess that's a compliment).

But John, let's be honest, maintaining their New Year's resolutions can be difficult. Clean the garage, lose some weight, make more money... oftentimes, failure arrives before the end of January. However New Year's resolutions are possible if we approach them in the right way!

Did you ever have the desire to learn another language OR revisit what you learned during those younger years? Well, why not learn French? It's never too late to start and with a bit of motivation, you can find yourself in places you've never even dreamed about with people you still don't even know yet.

Let's talk about why you should learn a language and then examine some ways to go about this.

Why should I learn a language?
Did you know that there are more bilingual speakers on this planet than monolingual ones? Sometimes we get accustomed to assuming our way of life is the norm (such as being a monolingual English speaker in either America or Britain). The human race is experiencing great advances in communication with the Internet becoming ever more available. Why deprive yourself of another language?

First off, you'll discover so much. Secondly, you'll meet a lot of new people who can change your life (most everybody I meet on a personal level has done so). Not to mention that knowing another language then traveling to that place is a lot more enjoyable for both you and the locals.

Personally I believe you'll gain much more knowledge about things (culture, art, music) and have many more stories to share with others. For example, when I went with my Italian girlfriend up into the mountains (see the photo above) we noticed the apartment above our's was leaking water from the balcony. My girlfriend's dad ran upstairs and broke the door with a hammer. The water level was about 6 inches off the ground! Not wasting anytime, we proceeded to sweep the water out of the front door and the balcony with brooms and mops. This is only one of many stories I've gained from my experiences abroad (Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, etc...).

How can I do it too?
I think the problem with is that we don't set concrete goals with our New Year Resolutions. By setting concrete goals we can constantly reanalyze whether or not we completed them yet. Rather than saying I want to lose weight or I want to learn French, say: I want to lose a pound every 2 weeks or I want to be able to tell time in French by next week. Tell yourself that by time your next trip to France, you want to be able to order food in a restaurant. That's a very concrete goal.

Next off, we don't set reasonable goals. Although it would be nice to write an entire 5-page paper in French by tomorrow, it's probably not feasible at a beginner's level. Start small, write a paragraph about yourself using beginner vocabulary, have it proofread, then expand on it as your knowledge advances.

Lastly, reward yourself for achieving goals and understand that you're making progress! If you started with practically no French and you're able to say "Bonjour, je m'appelle Stephan" then you're making progress. By consistently attaining small goals and setting new ones then you'll be on your way to speaking French in no time!

Conclusion
Don't waste this year's resolution; learn a language! If you're wondering where to start, read this article. If you're wondering how long it'll take to become fluent in French, then we have an article for that also.. Don't by shy and explore our content a bit.

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2 comments:

  1. John, I shouldn't have to tell you how awesome and useful this website is! I'm a senior in high school, and as you well know, classroom instruction doesn't necessarily inspire further education outside the one hour a day I have French. Between this website, watching movies and BFMTV with French audio, listening to Stromae and Coeur de Pirate waaayyyy too much (thanks to your music reviews) :D, I find myself taking great steps towards furthering my French skills.

    My school is hosting an exchange in March where 16 students from Montelimar (dans les Rhone-Alpes) are visiting for 9 days and I am one of the host families, From the resources provided here, the classroom instruction, and my own prerogative, I'm making good headway and am able to hold fairly lengthy conversations with some of the Frenchies on FaceBook. Whether that holds up in March when I actually have to talk to them, I'm not sure. Haha.

    Encore, merci pour tous! Bonne chance et bonne année!

    M Sean

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    Replies
    1. Hi M Sean,

      I remember seeing this post before, but somehow I didn't get around to commenting until now. Thank you for sharing your soon-to-be experience!

      I wish you the best of luck come March. Don't be too discouraged if they want to try a speak English around you (because they are coming in probably with that in mind). Just keep up the good work and keep in mind that you're making progress everyday! Merci for the comment, these always make my day.

      P.S, I love how you used the word "Frenchies", you're sounding like you read this blog too much hahahah

      C'est mon plaisir,

      John Elkhoury

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