Using your minimal French


Throughout learning a language there are many hurdles to overcome.  At times it feels like you are on a rollercoaster of emotions toward your new language.

Step one, off to the races we go:  You’ve chosen your new language congratulations!!!  Everything is new and exciting, the world is your oyster!

Step two, climbing that first hill of the roller coaster:  There is just so much to learn, there is no way in the world I will ever be fluent.  Everything sounds like gibberish and no one wants to have conversations about colors and numbers.

Step three, the first exhilerating free fall: Ahhh, I just ordered coffee without any problems (happy dance!)

Step four, climbing up again: Wait, why are you asking me so many questions… stop, please stop.

Step five, free fall: I can conjugate basic verbs!!  Let’s talk about what I am doing right now or continuously!

Step six, and we’re climbing again:  I can’t conjugate verbs in the past tense, so I will just add the word yesterday into all my “past tense” sentences… that won’t get confusing right?  Yesterday I go to the mountain, it is beautiful.

Step seven – hundred:  I understand!  I don’t understand 😦  I’m getting my point across!!!  You have no idea what I am talking about 😦

Step one hundred and one:  … I’ll let you know when I am there!

As for now, language learning is a process and you just have to take it in stride and do you best to “ride” out the hills.  Knowing in advance that they will be there helps, but pushing forward even when you want nothing more than to give up your language forever is how you get better.  As they say, you just have to “keep on, keepin’ on”.


SO maybe you can’t actually have great philosophical conversations right off the bat, that’s not a reason to not try at all!  It even helps to talk to yourself.  The more you use the new language and make it personal and part of your life, the more likely it is that it will stick with you.  For example when I am trying to memorize verbs and nouns I try to put them together into sentences I might use or at the very least are familiar to me.  Like writing up a short bio about yourself, you know like the kind you wrote in 3rd grade.

1st grade

 It’s amazing how personalizing words can increase your memorization.  Those very sentences about yourself are most likely the first things you will say when getting to know a new person in your new language.  Stick with learning words that make sense in your life.  Learning vocab that pertains to your job or to your hobbies is much more useful than learning random words that a book tells you to learn.

Lastly, you got to make it fun.  Yes, you will be talking like a 4 year old, better to embrace it while you strive for better.  SO I will leave you with how I’ve been making it more fun inspired by one real event.  To preface, all language books I have read have a section in the beginning trying to make sentences out of the very few words you have learned.  These sentences usually go as follows:

“Is this a dog?”beautiful cat #1

“No, that is not a dog, that is a cat.”

I understand what you are doing there book, but it’s still a string of ridiculous statements that I would never make.  So one night I came into the kitchen to see this:dan counter

TO which I proudly exclaimed, ” Dan Ce n’est pas un lit, c’est une table!”  (Dan, that’s not a bed, that’s a table!)

I think I may be the first person in real life to be able to use that ridiculous phrasing from a beginner’s book.  Lucky for me Dan is very interested in helping me learn French… or being ridiculous 🙂

dan maple

Dan ce n’est pas un bière, c’est sirop d’érable!     (Dan that’s not a beer, that’s maple syrup!)

dan beerOui!  C’est un bière!

dan wallDan, ce n’est pas un télévision, c’est un mur!  ( Dan that’s not a TV, that’s a wall!)

dan tvOui, c’est un télévision!

Thanks Dan for making basic French fun 🙂



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