French is cool. I like it. It was my first foreign language way back when; the one that gave me my first experiences speaking another language ordering a baguette in the boulangerie on holiday and making friends at the campsite park, the one that helped to inspire me to learn more, and the one that started all this. French, I salute you.
University is not cool. I don’t like it. It is the first thing to suck the fun out of language learning; the one that asked me to write about science despite studying language, the one that helped to lose all inspiration in language, and the one that started this post. University, I don’t salute you.
Before we get into this, let me just make it clear that university has huge potential to be a great thing for many people. I get that. I respect that. I’m not asking for backlash from students here. Not only that, I’ve actually enjoyed my university studies up until this point – and I’m now on my ninth course, so that’s a lot of enjoyment.
The thing is, this year things have got stupid. I’m writing essays about science and history…in French. What?! So with a dissertation looming, I decided it’s time to kick university where it hurts and go out with a bang. Oh yes, and to put the fun back into French. Let’s ace this university French nonsense!
How am I going to do this?
Ok, so as of the end of this month, all other language learning will be over, that means that August and September will be COMPLETELY devoted to French. This is hard for me! I’m a dabbler. I can’t resist a little looksie at the various language books on my shelf. But I know I can do this. If I devote all the time I spend learning languages at the moment (and more) to French then I can ace this.
So that’s a start, but what am I going to do with this new found time? This is where lots of forward planning comes in. I have a course book that I plan to finish by mid-August, allowing for more time to spend on grammar, dissertation, and more interesting stuff from then.
I’m creating a weekly timetable fitting in my French studies around my life. This is a big one. Things have been super busy this year with work and my old routine of spending an hour on university work in the afternoon before heading out to teach has been pushed aside in order to finish work stuff. It happens. However, with summer holidays just around the corner and most of my students stopping for a summer break, I can take advantage and get back into the habit of doing something every day rather than being forced to cram everything into the weekend.
I’ve also made this list of “5 minute fillers” for moments when I don’t know what to do with myself but I haven’t got time to start something.
At the weekend, when I will still have more study time to devote to passing this darn course, I’m going to restart the Pomodoro technique. I used to do this all the time when I had to study loads at the weekend but lately I’ve got out of the habit for whatever reason. I’m going to do this again – it works! I’m being very disciplined and not recharging my MP3 player to listen to in the car. I’ve found a French radio station on the AM wave in my car and I’m sticking to it…until I go under a bridge and need to put Radio 1 on to stop my ears from being blasted by the white noise. Having said that, normally it’s trashy dance music on Radio 1 so I may as well stick with the white noise.
And, finally, I’m going to find ways to actually enjoy French again. I’m going to aim to watch a French film once a week – even if it’s an English film and I watch it with French audio. I recently inherited an iPhone so I’ll be playing with French Siri when I can’t get on Skype to talk to real people! Oh yes, and I will keep listening to Stromae and await his world domination.
Let’s do this!