This week I have started learning French. After staying in Geneva for more than 1 year, I finally decided that it was time for me to learn the language. Receiving so many mails from the various government departments and not being able to understand any of them is frustrating. I was able to get by so far using a few survival phrases in French. When I came into Geneva, I started learning French. At that time, I was also learning Arabic and was devoting all my free time to that endeavour. Taking in a second language was very difficult at that point. Now, I think I have reached a certain level in Arabic that I can comfortably take on learning another language. Also, when I visited Geneva Taxation Department last week, I got the motivation to learn French :).
I have started by purchasing the Language Hacking Guide by Bennie Lewis to get insights into how to learn a language fast. The guide was very good, full of very useful tips, even though I knew many of the tips that he has mentioned in the Guide and applied them in the past to learn English as a second language in school and recently to learn Arabic. The best advice he has given is to start speaking from day one and to do full immersion into the target language. So, I switched my iPhone language to French.
In the first few days, I have learnt a few new phrases and with that, I tried to ask a few questions in the supermarket. I just tried to think of questions in French even in places where English has worked in the past – it was a great feeling to be able to just talk in the first few days of starting to learn the language even though very little of what I talked was understood, given my ridiculous pronunciation.
My wife is also joining me in this journey. She bought a book called Easy French Reader which contains graded readings for beginners in French. So, we tried to read the book on the very first day. Wow! What a great feeling – we were able to read through the first story and were able to understand the story – Yes, the story was very easy like a typical story for children. However, it is a huge confidence booster on day one to be able to read something in French, even if it is kids’ stuff.
I have learnt Arabic earlier and lot of my own experiences from my Arabic learning are coming in handy. Immersion is something that I have done in learning Arabic to help me learn and retain information effectively. When I saw that the immersion technique was fully endorsed by a polyglot like Benny, I got even more confidence.
I will get into more details on the useful tips that I found in the Language Hacking Guide in later posts and I will also probably write a review of it.
My Goals for 2012 in learning French are:
1. Be able to speak fluently with locals
2. Be able to read and understand the taxation handbook from the Geneva tax department
3. Pass the A1 level of French proficiency exam.