Placement: Dinard, Bretagne, France (l’académie de Rennes)
To say my brief 8 months in France helped my language development would be a gross understatement of just how much my stay there impacted not only my fluency in French, but me as a person. Before I went to France, I fancied myself fluent in French. People would ask me about my French language abilities and I would confidently say, “yes, I speak French.”
2.6 seconds after the plane landed in Belgium; that statement was promptly removed from my vocabulary. Living in France was such a humbling experience. I unlearnt so much of what I’d been taught in school I while building on everything I’d been taught since I started studying French years before moving to France. The daily struggle (and yes it was a struggle) revolutionized how I approached language learning and it taught me to be patient with myself. I was reminded after every conversation that I already had all the skills needed to respond without sounding like a fool, I just needed time and practice.
It reminded me that language is literally life. It’s everything that happens around us and how we are able to connect with and share those daily happenings. Did my accent improve, yes? But more importantly, I stopped thinking of French as a foreign language the more it became a part of literally every part of my day- from shyly ordering a baguette at the closest bakery, to telling my roommate that she left hair in the bathroom tub AGAIN, to arguing with a customer service agent at SNCF about my 70 euro refund all the way to signing complicated government and bank contracts.
After those amazing 8 months in France, I could somewhat confidently say “oui, je parle français.”
Any other comments?:
My advice to anybody who is interested in immersion on any level, is to just take in as much as you can. It’s okay to feel too shy or afraid to participate in a conversation with native or neo-native speakers in the beginning. Just listen, soak up as much as you can, observe as much as you can, ask as much as you can and before you know it you’ll start using words and expressions you can’t even remember learning.
Current Country of Residence: Jamaica
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