In anticipation of my upcoming three months in Europe, I have been familiarizing myself with the French language, since most of my time there will be spent in Wallonia, the French-speaking portion of Belgium. Unfortunately I haven’t had as much time to devote to it this summer as I had hoped, but I have been working on it a little bit. And just of late I have become inspired by Benny Lewis the Irish Polyglot, who has achieved fluency in a number of European languages in just the past few years.
His site is called “Fluent in Three Months,” but really what he advocates is simply getting out there and speaking a language in order to become fluent, which he believes can lead to that goal of fluency much more quickly than other methods (perhaps even in three months!). Personally, I agree. No amount of study in a language will get you to fluency–as much as this will help, eventually you’re just going to have to get out of your comfort zone and start talking to natives.
So I’m learning French, and I’m going to be spending a lot of time in a French-speaking country soon. But Benny encourages his readers to set goals and make missions out of these language-learning adventures, so that you won’t quit or give up. So here is my goal and mission.
Goal: Reaching the same level in French that I have reached in Spanish — Now this is probably not very informative to you, but it does represent an identifiable goal in my mind. When I speak Spanish, I can express myself fairly well, and I think I could consider myself fluent in that respect; but I need improvement with my conversational listening skills, since often times I don’t understand what is said to me (especially in noisy places or when talking to people with soft voices). But I can keep up a conversation in Spanish, which is what I’m aiming for in French.
The Mission is to accomplish this goal within the 46 days that I will be spending in French-speaking countries. I may be in Europe for three months, but much of this time will be spent travelling in other regions, so those don’t really count. And while this seems like a short time, I am preparing myself now by learning the pronunciation, some vocabulary and phrases, and even a bit of grammar. I plan to start speaking French the day I land in Belgium.
So, do you think I can do it? With enough will-power and disciplining myself to talk to people (I’m rather introverted by nature), I think it’s possible. My knowledge of Spanish will certainly help a lot, and since this is by no means my first foreign language, I think I’ll catch on pretty quickly. So stay tuned! This blog will be my way of chronicling my mission, and making sure I stay on track. Au revoir!