On Relearning a Language | The Language Diaries

So, here is the thing with me and languages. I absolutely love languages. They are fascinating, intriguing, and so very irresistible to me. I can’t resist picking up random languages and learning a few words and phrases, then dropping them for some other ones and therefore forgetting even the very little that I have learned. But this is not how-many-languages-can-I-order-coffee-in kind of post.

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A few months back, I finished my postgraduate dissertation. That meant I was done with my academic pursuits for now, as I am not applying for a PhD in the next few years. I’ve been in official education since I was 7, so at age 24, having just submitted my dissertation, I felt unsure about the fact that I suddenly didn’t have anything to study.
Studying and knowledge is fabulous, in my humble opinion, and I strive to do as much of it as possible, especially now that I am not pushed by deadlines and grades.

I pondered the question of what is next for me, and it hit me – I have studied French for so many years in school, yet I can barely converse in it as of right now. So, I took the plunge, did a little bit of research, and got myself started.

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Before going to the bookshop and buying all the textbooks (which is what I tend to do), I watched a lot (as in, hours and hours) of YouTube videos made by people who are very much into language learning, and by French learners especially. This narrowed the list of suitable textbooks down considerably. First off, I realised that a regular classroom use textbook will not do, as I don’t have access to a teacher, and much more prefer studying on my own.
And so, I looked into self-study French textbooks. Please note, all of the textbooks mentioned below are not really suitable for a complete beginner. Some background in the language is recommended.

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The very first one I got, and studied from, was Hugo’s French in Three Months, which I used purely to kick start the French part of my brain. Unless you have quite a bit of forgotten background in French, or are looking to learn French quick for an upcoming trip, I would not recommend this book. I plan on doing a more detailed review of French textbooks in the future, so I will not go into detail just now, though if you want to get a good grasp of French, and keep at it for more than one trip, I suggest you check out the books I discuss below.

I purchased two Practice Makes Perfect editions, Complete French Grammar, and French Verb Tenses. These two suit my learning style well in the way they are designed and the way in which the grammar points are presented. Remember, it’s all very subjective. I always recommend for everybody to find a review and ideally a flip-through of textbooks online, just to make sure it will suit you.
On top of that, I got myself the Collins’ Easy Learning Complete French, which I swear by for a quick reference of a grammar point I need to clear up.

I also discovered the Teach Yourself publisher, and I knew a lot of people recommend their teaching methods. Another textbook in my collection is the French Tutor published by them, and I am diving into that one today (excited giggling – yes, I am that person).

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After about four weeks, I felt the need to widen my circle of sources. I was getting tired of filling in grammar exercises (as one does, hence why I wasn’t really a big fan of French lessons in school), so I looked into French readers. I ended up getting the Easy French Reader which my university bookstore had in stock (and added Simone de Beauvoir’s Les belles images because… well, because it was on sale).

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As you can see, I do have quite a collection of sources. Some people might struggle with having this many and finding some sort of routine in using them, as that can lead to a lot of repetition of grammar – especially the more basic one. I am currently in the process of switching my study routine up, and aiming to implement all of these one way or another. But about that another time.

If you made it all the way here, here’s to you. I would love to know if you are currently learning any languages, and whether you prefer to attend classes or prefer to self-study? You know where the comments section is.

As always, thank you for stopping by.

Small print: some links in my articles are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through them, I receive a teeny tiny commission (which I will be ever so greatly grateful for).


4 thoughts on “On Relearning a Language | The Language Diaries

  1. Jolineys says:

    It’s great that you found the motivation to learn French again! Congratulations! After college, when I started freelancing, business was slow and I had too much time on my hands, so I dived into German, and later Spanish. At first I only used books, then some online resources (mostly Memrise to learn and review vocabulary) but what really helped motivate me and ensure that I worked regularly were language exchanges.

    Having someone to talk to, who is learning your mother tongue just as you are learning theirs, is a great way to apply what you’ve learned, train your ear, improve your accent, expand your vocabulary, etc. – I can’t recommend it highly enough! Do you already have language partners, or do you take part in meetups, etc.?

    Good luck learning French! C’est ma langue maternelle, au fait 🙂


    • layla says:

      That’s amazing with German and Spanish – are you still using them and learning them? And on top of that you have excellent English and have a native French? You are a gem!
      I don’t really take part in meetups, I’m too shy for that. So, I am not really using French. I am reading in it, and listening to it, but need to incorporate more speaking it. Need to figure out how to do that 🙂 I know there are a lot of apps and websites where you can talk to people who are learning any given language.
      Merci pour leer! ❤ (thank you for reading?)


      • Jolineys says:

        Unfortunately I don’t have time for language exchanges anymore, or maybe I just don’t want to look for new learning partners for now. I had become friends with my German partners, and when they all became too busy to keep up our weekly Skype calls, I felt a bit let down even though I completely understood. But I still use German from time to time, mainly through German-to-French translation, and I’m supposed to go to Spain next March so I’ll need to revive my Spanish before I go!

        I understand being too shy, but like you said, it’s easy to find learning partners online, through The Mixxer or italki for instance! The more language learners I find on WordPress, the more I think about asking them (you included!) to do language exchanges together. Maybe next year…

        “Thank you for reading” would be “Merci de m’avoir lue” from the verb “lire” – “leer” is actually Spanish 🙂 By the way, feel free to point out any mistakes I make in English if you want to!

        Liked by 1 person

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