Resurfacing post Cote D’Azur

So… I’ve been absent for what, like a year?!

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In that time, I’ve been to France twice, most recently last week to the Cote d’Azur which was beaaaaautiful and has, predictably, reinvigorated my motivation and passion for language learning.

However, between those things I was snowed under with work, stress and health issues so my language project hasn’t progressed as much as I’d have liked.

In Jan, inspired by my trip to the French countryside and then Paris, I booked a tutor and started Skype lessons every weekend for 10 weeks which was great! But then work buried me a bit so I took a break, and I’ve been stressed and not in the swing of studying really.

On the Cote d’Azur, most of my French to be honest was ordering things and asking for the nearest supermarket, so not exactly stretching! But it has inspired my fiancé and I to consider moving to France in 5-10 years, and naturally it’s made me really want to put in the work to push my French up to a fluent level (by fluent I of course don’t mean perfect, I mean able to understand and communicate efficiently without too many hitches and issues day to day, and to get 80-90% of what’s said on the radio or a podcast for example!)

I know I need a bit of a grammar bootcamp for tenses again, as I tend to make mistakes and muddle through a bit and so some concentrated study, while not best for beginners always, is definitely in order to help me clarify some of that!

Work permitting, I hope to be able to get my Skype French lessons with Julien back as they were amazing! An hour of purely speaking and listening to French and discussing an article and film/video I’d be sent to watch and read before the lesson… so useful!

Anyone have any tips for pushing up from a kind of sloppy intermediate level?! I’m trying to use Francais Authentique on youtube (and the podcasts for it!) as a guide, to read articles in French every week and to make it more of a daily habit… but I really wish I could take off and do an intensive course for a month (like the 2 week one I did in Royan a few years ago!) to be honest!

Anyway… yet more rambling about language learning when I should be out there doing it, so a bientot!

B x


The moments when you get it! + videos of the week en Francais

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Aaaaaand as I said yesterday, language learning / practice is a rollercoaster, right?! Haha.

Today, in the lift (we share our building with a French bank) I was able to listen to a conversation in French about the environment, and understand it!

It’s such a small thing, but the little successes are probably what we need to cling on to, especially given I was feeling really flat and like I wasn’t progressing yesterday.

It’s the small victories, people.

On y va!

Videos I’m loving this week…

In the evenings if I have a spare 20 minutes I’m watching a dubbed version of ‘Mean Girls’. It’s SUPER FAST (and loses something in translation) but it’s fun 🙂

And then… (as discussed in previous blog posts I like to listen to a mixture of interviews and slower content like Francais Authentique, but the key is that it’s 100% in French, to adjust to different voices, speeds and accents… and then also people who are fluent but it’s not their mother tongue, so Rachel Martino below speaks with an American accent, for example!)

And a bit of a brain-melting one for speed, so I put on the subtitles so I could read the French to help me keep up…

& one in English with French subtitles for French reading practice…

The language learning rollercoaster… c’est tellement bizarre!

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My god I’m a bit up and down about this, this week! Feels like climbing a bloody mountain.

It takes no time at all for me to be loving it, enjoying films, articles, studying in French… and then randomly I get super frustrated that I’m not fluent or perfect or I can’t understand something.

Think this is pretty normal, but OH MY GOD today it’s getting to me again.

Tonight I’m going to watch a really fun film in French like Mean Girls, which will hopefully break me out of my Frenchy-blues!

I’ve also booked another skype French lesson for the weekend after next, which I’m really looking forward to.

What are your tips from breaking out of the B1/B2 funk and into C1 territory, or is it just one long, hard slog?!

B xoxo

Salut – a little bit of postivity! {“OMG YOU CAN ACTUALLY SPEAK FRENCH”}

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So after my frustration with language-learning last week (just about pulled out of, as I shared here, by taking it back to fun stuff and not slogging it out), I had a good experience on Saturday.

I almost forgot I scheduled an informal tuition session on Italki with a french tutor called Audrey. It cost me 9 euros – how amazing is that?!

I spent a lot of Saturday weirdly stressed about it. When I signed into Skype I was terrified.

But guess what?!

It was amazing! I forgot how good it feels to speak only French and be forced to find ways around the things you can’t say, or ways to explain them with the words you do have. We spoke only French for about 50 minutes and talked about everything – me maybe getting married in France in 2020, why I’m learning French, what it is I like about France, how it’s different to England, how expensive London can be, how my French tutor said it’s tricky to move here because of needing guarantors for flats etc, and I talked about our time here as broke London newbies but that it’s better now… loads of stuff.

And when I went into the kitchen afterwards amazed that she’d understood a word I said, my fiance was like ‘Oh my god…I knew you knew some French but I had no idea that you actually can like… speak it. I’ve never heard you actually fully speak it before, it’s crazy!’

And it did feel pretty cool, mistakes and all… all part of the learning curve, right?!

I’m scheduling one per fortnight for now, and I’ll go up to one per week once I’ve done some of the grammar brushing up I want to do.

I can’t recommend Italki enough as a way to connect with tutors who are more affordable than in-person stuff here in London.

Some past posts that you might like:

A little inspirational video to help with language learning

A note on my language learning practice

Some of my favourite french words

Ameliorons notre francais: weird little ways to fit in more French

10 things I’ve learned while at school in France

Back in London… Keeping up ‘immersion’ en Angleterre

How to push through language fatigue! {inspiré par “nous sommes des poussières d’étoile”}

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Sooooooooo earlier today I dropped a quick post about my frustration with my language learning activities, and feeling rubbish and bleh.

However, I decided to get my act together – people learn languages EVERY DAY. I can motivate myself to work hard and gym a lot, so I figured I can apply that to this and fix the problem.


I did a little bit of searching for inspo – watched a couple of polyglot videos – and then implemented one of the Francais Authentique tips which is listen to content that interests you. 

So all the fitness, personal development and weird geeky tomb raider documentaries I watch in English in my spare moments? I youtubed ‘documentaire’ + ‘tomb raider’ and watched this documentary (‘La renaissance de Tomb Raider’) with French audio and French subtitles. But you can do this for anything! I’m going to watch some history, archaeology, religion and meditation-y ones tonight.

Then I started working through this playlist of ‘Developpment personnel’

And finally I really, really enjoyed this video so you might like it to help you get out of a language rut. Chill out about grammar and understanding everything and just consume content you find interesting!

Language learning fatigue

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Language learning fatigue…Anyone else experience this?!

It’s bloody hard work sometimes making yourself watch or listen to things in a foreign language, doing your duolingo flashcards etc after a long day, or first thing in the morning on the tube before gym and work!

But you know, I’ve been managing to stick to doing it daily anyway, some days for longer than others… but lately, no matter how much I study or listen to or even understand, I am just feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that it’s never ending! If I understand one thing, there are a MILLION MORE I don’t understand… If I understand one speaker, I don’t understand 20 others!

I know as kids we take 4(ish) years of doing nothing else but absorbing to learn our native tongue, so naturally it takes a long time to claw out this amount of time as an adult, plus we’re super distracted by a million things… but still. It would be nice to feel progress haha!

I may just be having a blue week, for various other reasons, which is making me feel down on my language learning too… but yeah… kinda wishing I could download a microchip in my brain or something and be fluent!

B x