Bonsoir! Je m’appelle Lisa. Je suis américaine.
I studied French in junior high school and high school, and for one semester in college. I still remember how to conjugated regular ER-verbs. However, despite being able to somewhat read and write French at a grade-school level (like second grade!), I’m not able to speak it.
I think that’s the most difficult thing about learning a language. Most people assume that if can read it and write it, then you can speak it. If I watched a movie in French, I have no idea what they are saying. All those years of studying the language and I only know the basics!
Lately, I feel as though my brain has turned to mush. I pass most of my free time playing chess against the computer (I usually lose, but occasionally I win too — it’s hard playing against the computer because it calculates all possible moves, and so quickly too!). Today was a “snow day” (even though we had no snow)… not sure why the decision to close school was for the weather; I was basically a bum all day.
So in my vegetative state of mind, I decided to challenge myself and learn to speak French! (Speak it well enough to watch a French movie without the subtitles.) I was tempted to purchase Rosetta Stone’s French language program, but it cost about $300. I read the reviews and a lot of people complained about software issues with the program; also reviewers have stated that despite its claims, you actually won’t be fluent like the company wants consumers to believe.
I Google searched for some options available online and found that most advice and tips for learning a new language was practicing immersion learning with a native speaker.
One of the websites that was suggested was italki.com, and I set up a profile on there. I love the concept of this site! It was created by a Chinese guy based in Shanghai, China. It’s a social networking site for people to learn languages from all over the country. Once I set up my profile, I received follower requests from people all over the world (mostly university students) wanting to learn English. I exchanged Skype information with some of them so that we can practice our dialogues together (the best way to actually learn the language is to speak it with a native speaker!). These people who wanted to be my “followers” were from India, Asia, Africa, South and Central America, France, etc.
I sent some requests to native French speakers to follow them — that’s what I love about this site! You’re basically getting free language learning from a native, it’s better than any textbook or software out there! On my phone, I downloaded some apps to help me along with my goal. I’ve also set a realistic goal for myself. I’m not looking to teach French or get a job in France! I want to just be good enough to watch a French movie without subtitles — and I gave myself until the end of the year to do it.