An attempt at not forgetting 17 years of French

It has been three months since I finished my degree! What! While I’ve always been good at keeping up with the literature side of my degree, the French side can be a little harder to slot into everyday life (without moving to France that is, believe me – I’m trying). I was reading at least one French novel a month up until June, but since then things have been a bit crazy and my English To Be Read pile has been much larger than my French TBRs.

It hit me today, scrolling through Twitter. There was a Tweet by French President Emmanuel Macron that I read and processed and then I continued to scroll. Wait, I just read and understood a tweet in another language. I never want to forget how cool that is. To learn a language is to open up a whole other world of people you can communicate with. It has also been a huge amount of hard work to get my French to where it is today, but ‘today’ is also the first time in seventeen years that I haven’t been studying French academically.

I remember going to a Franglish Language exchange in Lyon and meeting a middle aged man who told me he was there because he had a degree in English, a language he hadn’t spoken since he was studying it. He was now applying for a job where he needed English and he suddenly realised he had forgotten almost everything he knew about the language.

I do not want to find myself in his shoes in twenty years time. In fact I outright refuse. So here’s what I propose to do to stop myself forgetting French:

Read, read, read

One French novel a month. It’s only recently I stopped doing this but it’s time to revive the habit. It is not nearly as laborious as it once was, in fact it’s a pleasure. One that I take for granted. I have a few French reading goals to, but they’re all pretty long winded so they might take a while:

  • Les Misérables (Parts 1 – 4)
  • Some Proust
  • Harry Potter en français 

News, news, l’actus

I’m going to take a revision exercise and try and make it a daily, if not weekly, habit. Translating the headlines of French news websites into English and English headlines into French – and of course reading the French articles. Asides from the language benefits you get from this, reading a different perspective on English news is always a bonus. Particularly when I connect much more with European coverage of Brexit than British coverage.

On y va!

I need to get to France. As much as is realistically possible. This one is a little harder because of money, but I just need to scrape up some pennies and go on a weekend break. The best way to improve my French is (shock) to speak French with French people. In fact I’m just going to set myself the goal of returning to Lyon for this year’s Fête des Lumières, since it was partially cancelled when I was living there. OK that was easy… now for finding some money…

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