If you’re a student of a new language, you may have noticed that progress is not always exponential. It is usually quite likely that after benefiting from big improvements, you suddenly have the feeling to reach a certain plateau. How can you surmount this feeling and keep taking your French abilities to higher levels? 

Being a French instructor for 7 years and having learned and studied various languages myself, I can relate to this phenomenon and I’ve witnessed many of my students experiencing it as well, specifically when they don’t have the chance to live in a homoglotte context, meaning an environment where the use of the target language is predominant. 

We know that at a cognitive level, our degree of motivation and dedication directly influences our progress and results. So here are some ideas to help you remain engaged in your learning process and move through this feeling of stagnation:

  • Dedicate one activity, one hobby, or one task to French: Instead of associating learning a language with homework, call in your interest in a transversal topic to make use of your French skills. For example, you love cooking: maybe once a week you can decide to try new recipes in French so you’re exposed to the language in an indirect less focused way. If you have a strong interest in yoga, you can register for classes in French so your subconscious is picking up new vocabulary and structures while giving your body and mind some rest.
  • Get your daily dose of French: This is an important piece of your progress. Making the language part of your everyday life helps you integrate it as part of yourself. And becoming bilingual is about feeling that you are able to be fully yourself in the foreign language! The more you’re exposed even just for a few minutes a day by reading the news or listening to a podcast, the more you will nurture your relationship with the language and reprogram the belief that you’re not a legitimate user.
  • Make friends in French: I know that sounds ridiculous. And you may wonder, how can I meet people to practice French with? Nowadays it exists lots of apps and community events focused on the practice of a language. It can be intimidating to look for language buddies on Meet up for example, or to participate in French nights on Facebook pages, but sometimes one time is enough to connect with a new friend. More generally, I’ve found that doing a social activity usually offers me the opportunity to meet new people from a variety of backgrounds and find naturally someone speaking a language that I have in common with.
  • Push your edges: One thing that is commonly difficult is to pass out our comfort zone and honing our skills in a language is no exception. Lots of my students or acquaintances live in the belief that their proficiency is limited and prevents them from doing certain activities. If you recognize yourself here, I encourage you to start watching movies and shows in French with subtitles (in French) if you’re a beginner to intermediate learner and without any, if you’re more advanced. It may be challenging and unresting at first but I promise that your ears are going to become more familiar and we want to train them! Same for reading, I invite you to start choosing among French books, novels, or short stories so you can be exposed to more academic French and give a chance to your brain to identify and subconsciously memorize new structures.
  • Cultivate patience and commitment: learning a new language is like any other skill: you need to keep practicing it regularly or it becomes rusty! It sometimes happens to me that after a couple of months in my home country, interacting in my second or third language feels more choppy. And that’s alright. I know that, by integrating the other bullet points into my everyday life I’m maintaining my baseline in the language. If you don’t have the opportunity to speak or interact in French for a certain amount of time, remember that your committed efforts will pay and that little moves are better than no moves at all.
If you’re curious about different approaches to learning or improving your French, get in touch with me and we can customize a program to assist you in your journey :)