"Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." Henry Miller
You've decided to study a new language. Wonderful!
It is one of the beautiful, rich treasures that Henry Miller talks about.
Opening yourself up to new worlds, new people and new understanding is an awakening experience unlike any other. Cognitive scientists even say that mastering verbal skills such as are required of language study keeps the aging brain younger and sharper.
But we must remember the advice in Henry Miller's stirring quote: "Forget yourself." Most of the time, when you learn a language, you are a very young child. Actually, you start to learn a language when you a baby, even before you can speak yourself. (Some believe you even start to learn the language of those around you while you are in the womb!) You are constantly and gradually absorbing the sounds around you so that when your development reaches the right stage, you are able to start to imitate those sounds.
And this is the way it needs to be, to a certain extent, to learn a language as an adult. You have to become childlike and observe and absorb. Think of a child learning a language. Does he worry that he mispronounces a word?
Does he care if he doesn't quite get the "t" right in truck? Of course not; he just keeps plugging away until he gets it right and he even enjoys making everybody laugh with his funny attempts. And so must adults. If you are going to stand on ceremony and be afraid to make a mistake, you are going to have a difficult time learning how to speak a language. Remember, people who don't make mistakes usually don't make anything. You need to do just what a child does. Get into the language. Immerse yourself in it.
Constantly look for ways to incorporate it in your life. Let people know you are studying a new language.
They may speak it or be studying it too, but if the topic never came up in a conversation, neither of you would know. Restaurants, art galleries, movies, magazines and newspapers may all be sources where you can immerse yourself, and if you are lucky enough to travel to a country where your new language is spoken, you can really go swimming! Luckily, it's easy to immerse yourself if you are learning to speak French. French is a very widely spoken language and is spoken in over thirty countries. It is widely used in fashion, the arts, restaurants (and cooking!), and many other areas.
As much as you possibly can, try to expose yourself to anything from a French culture. That does not just mean France.
Belgium, Switzerland and Canada all have strong French speaking cultures, as do many Caribbean, African and Asian nations.
Newspapers such as Le Monde, Liberation, and Le Figaro, magazines such as Elle, Marie-Claire and Le Nouvel Observateur are available in most large cities, and French news programs are broadcast in some locales. Most movie DVDs can be set to many languages. Try to watch a movie you've already seen in French; since it is familiar, you will probably be able to figure a lot of it out.
Seek out any and all ways you can expose yourself to the beautiful French language you are about to learn.
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