Keeping up with language learning while abroad
Oddly, when you’re on your year abroad, keeping up with essential language learning tasks like grammar practice or memorising vocabulary can fall by the wayside.
I spend most of my days teaching English vocabulary and grammar to primary school children but, other than discovering the relevant specialised vocabulary to do this or what I learn from conversations, I’m sometimes guilty of doing little independent work.
While my university have set regular work with online grammar exercises or essays on Francophone culture, I feel that I need to focus on developing my knowledge of more conversational grammar structures and colloquial grammar. In everyday spoken French I have heard certain phrases coming up time and time again. Despite slowly recognising some of these phrases, I admit that there are some that remain a mystery to me.
But all is not lost! Because of my determination to fit in with my fellow Parisians, I’ve come up with several ways to manage my hectic schedule and find the time for some essential language practice.
Firstly, aiming to set aside half an hour a day is a manageable feat. This time is best suited for more complicated work such as grammar questions or researching the vocabulary found in a text of your target language. In fact, I save myself some time beforehand by using my commute to work as an opportunity to read over the free metro newspaper to comprehend the majority of a text and highlight the words that I don’t know. Another time-killing activity is going over the conjugations of verbs in my head while waiting for the metro to arrive. Whatever your weakness is, thinking of creative techniques that fit in with your day will make trying to improve much less painful.
Tailoring revision to your preferences is important too. I am very keen on multi-tasking so meal times offer the perfect time for some revision. Since I have to drag myself away from watching a comedy sitcom or in-depth historical documentary, I like to make this revision time entertaining by searching for relevant YouTube videos. As I’m aiming to improve my knowledge of informal French, channels like ‘Comme une Française’ have been particularly useful. However, there are plenty of channels that focus on a range of grammar for those wanting to nail the basics.
Finally, for people who are extremely lacking in motivation, having a small treat can help. Perhaps some brie and baguette for a cultural element too?