In and out of love
How did your love story with French start?
Perhaps it was at school when you were younger. Perhaps it was during a trip to France. Or maybe it was a special song or a special movie that inspired you.
You loved everything about it. The way it made you feel. The culture, the French sophistication and elegance. The sounds that immediately transported you. You smiled at the language’s qwirkiness, its irregularities and wondered at its mysterious pronunciation of certain words.
The only thought of learning French and being able to read it and to speak it one day put a smile on your face.
You were in love, and you thought this feeling would last forever.
But if you’re reading this article, the story’s told you otherwise.
So what happened? How did you fall out love?
Not the end of the road
Did French disappoint you?
Was it that French turned out to be more difficult to live with than you had first imagined?
Were you expecting things to be smoother between you?
Did it become too tedious to make so much efforts for so little reward.
We fall out of love with people and with languages for different reasons. These things happen, and they happen much more often than we would like them to.
The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the end of the road.
You don’t have to give up and forget about your dream of speaking French.
And today I’m telling you how to fall back in love with the language, so that you can revive that dream, and make it come true.
Why did you fall out of love?
The first step to rekindling your relationship with French and falling back in love is to understand why you fell out of love in the first place.
This is important because it will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.
To help you, let’s explore some of the most common reasons why language learners start feeling cold towards the language they once adored:
1. Learning routine
If your learning routine revolves too much around textbooks, grammars, phrasebooks or superficial conversations, it will kill your romance with French.
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be ANY sort of structure in your language learning.
But we must ackowledge that most of the language methods available to the public concentrate mostly on them. Even when they say they don’t.
As a consequence, the first idea we have when we want to learn a language is to create a learning routine that involves things such as translation, grammar drills, flashcards, vocab apps, etc.
Why is it a problem?
Because it only shows you one aspect of what a language is: its structure.
It’s as if you’ve had a crush on someone so you start going on dates together. And during these dates, you keep looking at X-rays of their bones, reading analysis of their blood samples, trying to learn their physical features by heart, or their CV.
Pretty hard to stay in love this way.
2. Pushing yourself too hard
Additionally to focusing on aspects of the language that don’t produce sparks, learners tend to push themselves too hard, following learning schedules that aren’t realistic or aligned with their personality and their lifestyle.
This is very likely going to lead you to language burnout (Read the article about it here)
We keep hearing that we must “push ourselves outside of our comfort zone”, and whilst that’s true, it doesn’t mean that we must live in constant discomfort.
Taking small steps beyond the limit of comfort is a much more gentle approach that will help you foster positive emotions towards yourself and your French practice.
3. Following advice that isn’t adapted to you
Just like for love stories, the only expert of your language learning life is you.
It doesn’t matter how experienced, knowledgeable, certified your coach is.
You are – or should be- always your first inner compass.
It means you know best what is for you and what isn’t.
But there’s a trick.
It’s your heart that knows what is for you, not your mind.
Follow the heart, not the mind
The mind will keep comparing yourself to others, analysing what others have done to succeed and suggest that you should do the same.
The mind will criticise you for not acheieving the same results as others and will make you feel as if you’re a failure.
The mind will keep pushing you too hard and choosing the wrong methods because “it makes sense, that’s how everyone else does it, that’s how we’ve always been taught to do it.”
I’m giving you FULL permission to follow your heart.
If something doesn’t feel good, stop doing it.
If something feels good, keep doing it.
I know. It goes against everything you’ve learned:
- No pain no gain.
- Efforts first, then pleasure, if there’s time left.
- You must do your homework before you can play.
- Nobody reaches any accomplishment if they don’t do the “hard” part.
Let me ask you something
Did you start learning French so you could prove the world that you are the master of self-discipline, to win the next Nobel Price of Langages (imagine if that existed)?
Or did you start learning French because it brought you pleasure?
Your worth is not in your accomplishments.
It’s not in what you do, or how well you do it.
Your worth is in who.you.are.
So go enjoy yourself. Life’s too short.
Is it possible to fall back in love with French?
Yes. Absolutely, a 100 times, yes.
And here’s how.
1. Don’t make the same mistakes
Now that you’ve discovered what made you fall out of love with French, make sure not to repeat the same mistakes.
Change how you learn French and change your mindset about learning. It’s time.
Mixing things up doesn’t mean doing grammar before vocabulary instead of vocabulary before grammar.
I’m talking deep transformations. Read on.
2. Back to memory lane
Remember what made you fall in love.
What was it that attracted you to French? How did you feel then? What was the French dream at the time?
And is it different now?
What would your ideal relationship with French be like?
How would you be able to feel if that became a reality?
And how can you bring those feelings in your pratice today?
3. Let go of old grudges and forgive
Think of all the things that frustrate you. All the things that disappointed you. All the difficulties you’ve had, the programs that didn’t deliver, the teachers that weren’t supportive.
Think of the negative feelings you’ve had about yourself, for the mistakes you’ve made, for the lack of progress, for not being as consistent as you wish you’d been.
Write it all on paper.
And then get rid of it. Tear it to peaces. Burn it. Wathever you must do to let it go.
Forgive the language for not being as easy.
Forgive the teachers for not being as supportive.
Forgive the methods for not being as effective.
Most importantly forgive yourself.
Today is a new day. A new page. A new beginning.
4. Spend quality time together
If you were trying to create a positive relationship with another human being, what would you do?
I would take them to a restaurant. Or we would cook together a new recipe. We would have deep conversations. We would go to the cinema. We would go for a walk in nature. We would do yoga or any other activity we love, together.
Why would it be different with French?
- Try cooking a French recipe at home or at a restaurant: Marmiton website
- Journal in French to share your thoughts and feelings: Discover how here
- (Re-)discover French movies.
- Go in nature and describe what you see in French or follow Joanna Radomska for more tips on how to mix walking with language learing: Walking Languages
- Follow a French yoga class on youtube. Here’s my favorite one in Canadian French: Yoga avec Marie Josée
5. Use French for self-growth
Finally, one of the beautiful aspects of being in a relationship is that it helps you grow. It transforms the person you are and it guides you into becoming an even better person.
I always feel emotional when I can say to my husband: “My life is better thanks to you. I am a better person thanks to you. You help me know myself better. You push me to heal from the past and to grow as a human being. And for that, I love you even more.“
This is why using French for self-growth is the ultimate tool when it comes to creating an everlasting bond with the language.
French isn’t just words, sounds, structures, expressions. It isn’t just a culture, a literature, a cinematic genre or a cuisine.
By using the healing powers of learning a second language, French becomes your guide towards transformation.
Here are a few ideas to start on your own:
1. Develop a mindful morning routine and follow some guided meditations in French.
2. Read books, listen to podcasts and watch youtube videos on personal development in French.
3. Journal in French, with specific prompts to cover different aspects of your person, your story, your beliefs, and your dreams. For instance, on the topic of abundance and scarcity, or self-esteem, or the inner child.
4. Use mantras and affirmations to re-program your subconscious.
5. Hire a French-speaking life coach to help you transform and create a life you adore.
Of course, all these materials would be targeted towards French speakers, which means that if you’re not there yet with your level of French, it will be difficult to take full advantage of them.
Which is exactly why I’ve created Bulle de Français for intermediate learners. In this program, you get to explore deep topics of self-development and mindfulness at your level.
You create this beautiful connection with French, and you use French to re-connect to yourself.
A bubble of French
Imagine if you had a special moment every week with French, to actually take care of yourself.
Imagine this parenthesis in time, far from the pressure of work, far from the agitation of your outside life.
A safe bubble where it’s ok to make mistakes. Where you’re free to explore, where you’re invited to play. Where you can simply connect, and feel that you belong.
This space exists, and it’s waiting for you.
Learn more about Bulle de Français and join us. I can’t wait to personally guide you.