Like, really. So all the way back in 6th grade, I decided that the next year, in seventh grade, I wanted to take French. It would be perfect. I would become fluent in French, become a successful fashion designer, and then I would be able to speak to French people when I’d be in France for Paris Fashion Week twice a year. Well, things changed a bit. I really did enjoy French I, during seventh and eighth grade. I learned a lot, like the introductory stuff, and I gained a foundation in French. I built my vocabulary. By the start of high school, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to become a fashion designer anymore, but that wasn’t going to stop me from taking French classes. Plus, there was a minimum two-year language requirement at my high school. My ninth grade French class was kind of a joke. No one took it seriously, but I still learned and did well. The passé composé was introduced, and I increased my vocabulary. Tenth grade went well too, other than the fact that pretty much all of the other tenses were introduced and things became a bit overwhelming. I also learned that I struggle with remembering all of the damn verb endings and their irregularities. By junior year, I was definitely on the track to taking French all four years of high school–since it looked good for colleges. And after all of these years, I’d have to be fluent in French by now, right? Yet, I lost the interest in eleventh and twelfth grade. My teacher definitely had something to do with this, as well as the amount of grammar. So, to make a long story short, I completed AP French, and I’m definitely not fluent in the language. Ultimately, I am very glad that I took French for so long and in school. I am especially grateful for my early years of French. It really built my vocabulary, and it taught me that conjugating even existed. I was forced to sit and memorize long lists of vocabulary, so now I know some words in French. I was forced to learn different verb patterns, and I know at least some of them pretty well. DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP, anyone? But in other ways, I think that the way in which French was taught to me was quite ineffective. If the goal is to communicate with other French speakers, I’ve been failed miserably. I’ll admit, that some of my lack of communication skills is totally on me. I could have tried a lot harder during oral and auditory exercises. But on the other hand, I feel like there should have been greater emphasis on speaking and listening in the classroom. I understand that it is difficult to take the immersion route, when French class is only 45 minutes, 5 days a week. But the past is the past. Since going to college and becoming friends with so many people who are fluent in at least two languages, my enthusiasm for learning French was sparked again. This was combined with my strong desire to travel and my general love of all things French. So towards the end of the spring semester, I started to work on French. It had been since June 2014 that I’d really done any French, so I was a bit rusty. BUT, I remembered a lot more than I thought I had. I downloaded the Duolingo app, and I worked on that every day for a couple of weeks…until I stopped. I learned to sing (with lyrics in front of me) Carla Bruni’s song, “Quelqu’un m’a dit” using the website tunetranscriber.com. When I got home, I labeled everything I could get my hands on in French words. I still look at them everyday. I started listening to the podcast News in Slow French, as well as RFI’s simple French news podcast. I’ve read and translated news articles from lemonde.fr. I started reading the children’s story James and the Giant Peach in French. I’ve tried to learn other French songs and translated lyrics (I’ve been loving Stromae). I found some YouTube channels to be helpful as well, such as DamonandJo (highly recommended!!!), ohlalafrench, and easyfrench. I even tried watching a couple of movies (L’amour et turbulences/Love Is In the Air and L’auberge espagnole). While I probably only understood about 10%, the language exposure is good. And once a week I talk with a native speaker for an hour. Every day since coming back from school, I’ve worked on French a little bit. Sometimes, it’s only three minutes, if I’m being honest, but that’s better than nothing. All of this practice has highlighted my successes and struggles. In general, I know a pretty good amount of French. But there are still many, many words that I do not know. I still struggle the most with understanding when other people speak in French. I’m not too bad at speaking myself, but sometimes the sentence structure trips me up a bit. I really need to improve my knowledge of verb conjugations, increase my vocabulary, and gain a better understanding of grammar. All in all, I’m trying. I’m doing my best. What I know is that I want to become fluent, and I’m willing to do the time. Let me know if you’re learning French or another language! Also let me know if you’d like to hear more about my French language adventure!