June 19, 2017

Lire en Français

Frederic Bibard of Talk in French is adamant that in order to truly learn another language, language studies must become a habit. He says that "learning for 15 or 20 minutes per day is better than 2 hours once a week." I attend a 2 hour French class at the Alliance Française de St. Louis each week, but I have made an effort to include French studies into my every day. Often I will break up mes devoirs into smaller assignments to complete throughout the week rather than doing it all in one sitting. I've become better about listening en français with Coffee Break French. Recently, I was reminded of another way to incorporate French into my every day. While I've been aware of this study habit, I'll admit I haven't done a great job of following through. I now want to make more of a point to lire en français, read in French. 

I follow @fluentforevertips on Instagram, a feed with language learning facts and tips. Yesterday, they posted the following:
"Reading in a foreign language often evokes some ugly associations: hours spent trudging through some excruciatingly long masterpieces of literature, painstakingly looking up every other word in a dictionary. But we don't need to torture ourselves. We possess an extraordinary ability to learn words from context alone, without the aid of a dictionary -- this is how we learned most of our English words, after all." 
Who has ever thought this way about reading in another language? (Guiltily raising my hand...) I have read Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry en français. This is one of my favorite books, and it really helped that I have also read it in English. It made figuring out the French in context much easier. Other than that, I have a stack of French reads I have yet to get to - mostly children's books collected from thrifting, but also a book of short stories and a sweet little poetry book I just picked up at a local bookstore. This reminder I received while scrolling through my Instagram feed was just the encouragement I needed to get that stack out and start working my way through as another way to améliorer mon français. 

This morning I got my toes wet and read Chanson de la plus haute tour, a poem by Arthur Rimbaud, with my morning coffee. 

Qu'il vienne, qu'il vienne
Le temps dont on s'éprenne.

May it come, may it come
The time when love astounds us.

Just this verse alone is a beautiful example of the use of dont, a French pronom relatif meaning from which, from whom, of which, of whom, etc. I also learned a new verb: s'éprendre (to be smitten, to fall in love). 

If you are studying French or any other language, try taking a few minutes to read in that language today. Even those few minutes, done every day over time, will make a big difference in improving your language skills. 

Warm wishes and happy Monday from me to you,

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