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4.30.2021 – Lars on Learning French

Lars and their friends sitting on a ledge at Château de Chenonceau

I started learning French my first year of high school. I didn’t really even want to learn French at first, but there was a scheduling conflict that caused me to go with my second language choice. That first year was very nearly my last year. I had such a difficult time with it. It was really frustrating because I worked really hard and still always felt like I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I am so glad now, five years later, that I stuck with it. I very quickly began to enjoy French music, food, and wanted to grow to be able to read French philosophy in its original transcription. I would watch esports casted in French, listen to music podcasts in French (at half speed), and change Netflix audio or subtitles to be in French. I tried to incorporate French into anything I was already interested in: music, TV, video games, film, etc. Immersion into the language as much as possible is helpful to pick it up more fluently.

I developed a favorite French-speaking musician (Lous and the Yakuza) and even changed my phone’s language to French to make learning the language a bit easier but, if there is one thing I have learned in my time as a French student, it’s that learning a language is not supposed to be easy, and that’s okay. Learning takes time and patience but it is so worth it. The friends I have made along the way in my classes and French clubs, the satisfaction of learning something new, and having a new skill under my belt make it clear that I made the right choice to stick with language learning.

Even still I find myself struggling sometimes, I always get through it a better, more fluent French speaker. Things like making flashcards and Quizlets helped me to remember vocabulary and conjugations but more than anything, trying my best and managing my language learning anxiety was the key to my success. Language learning anxiety is a real thing, and it can be difficult to deal with. Dealing with those nerves has taught me a very important lesson that you always know more than you think you do. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming but I have found that the professors at UIC are very understanding and approachable.

If you are worried about a concept or just feel lost, reach out to your professors. They don’t expect you to be a perfect fluent speaker. They just want you to try your hardest. Peer tutors are also available to give helpful tips and try to explain things. So my advice to new and old language learners is to not give up: take it from someone who almost did.