When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

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When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-02-09, 7:06

Inspired by a similar thread on the German forum: When and/or where did you start learning French? Why? How? And so on.

French was the first language I remember trying to learn very seriously. I think I started when I was about seven years old. My brother was taking French in school, and that simply was not an option for me in school at the time. FWIR, he also generally seemed to know languages a lot better than I did, so I was jealous and determined to outdo him. :P I had no idea where to find native speakers of French to use it with, but I read the very few textbooks I could get my hands on cover to cover (before I found other resources I could use) and practiced it mostly with myself. I talked to myself in it, I drew cartoons in it (even though my artwork has always seriously sucked), I wrote silly little plays in it - I did whatever I could think of, basically. I even tried to translate things I heard in English mentally into French. Eventually, it worked; I got to a point where I could demonstrate that I knew French better than my brother did. But of course I wasn't satisfied with just that. :lol:

It wasn't until I was twelve years old that I met a French teacher in school, who fortunately was a native speaker (and who I always talked to in French IIRC). The next year, I got to start taking classes with her and continued taking French classes as long as I could in school (which meant only five years' worth of classes in four years). Even then, though, I mostly relied on self-study.

OK, I'm finally done. :lol: Enough about me! What about you? What made you start learning French? What have your experiences been? :)

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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby Meera » 2015-02-09, 18:56

I started in Eighth Grade in Middle School but I didn't take it too seriously. I continued with it in High School but unfortunately again I didn't do much to help myself learning it, I was too preoccupied with Hindi. So I didn't really start learning it until Uni when I took some classes in it and really liked it.
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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-02-09, 22:36

Meera wrote:So I didn't really start learning it until Uni when I took some classes in it and really liked it.

How recently did you start taking those classes? Like, last year, two years ago...? :)

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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby Lada » 2015-02-11, 16:19

My french story starts when I was 15. My parents took me to a very good school according to local standards and they taught 2 foreign languages. The first one was English and the second one was either French or German. Most pupils selected German being more useful as they said and I selected French because I thought it sounded more beautiful.

I learnt basic French I think, our teacher was very easy to influence on if we had tests on maths or Russian, or literature and these subjects were more important as we had to pass exams at the end of the year and French was not the subject most pupils cared about.
Then I continued learning French in university, but as it was second language too we had less lessons than English ones, however I learnt more than at school and was capable to read newspapers and translate articles.

After university the only place where I could practice French was France and Luxembourg. I visited France twice and could buy what I wanted, that's all. Now I just try not to forget what I still remember because that would be really sad to loose any command in French after years of learning it. And my current level has dropped dramatically, especially oral skills and understanding natives.

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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby Meera » 2015-02-11, 18:14

vijayjohn wrote:
Meera wrote:So I didn't really start learning it until Uni when I took some classes in it and really liked it.

How recently did you start taking those classes? Like, last year, two years ago...? :)


The first two I took in 2011 I think before I got my bachelors, when I was getting my bachelors I did tons of language classes for electives lol. And recently I started it again last semester. Last semester I was in Intermediate FRE II and this semester I am in advanced, but it is definitively NOT advanced in any sense of the word. It's kind of funny I have taken a lot of languages in college and for some reason to me it seems like the non-European language classes are much better. The French classes (all of of them) seem to rush you through. The structure is like learn something, test it, and move on with rarely reviewing it. The only time last semester that I practiced spoken French was when I had to present my final presentation, the whole semester there was like no speaking at all. We just listened to the teacher speak in French lol
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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby lumisade » 2015-02-21, 1:34

I've had French in school for 7 years. It was actually my first real foreign language, or at least it felt so (I began learning English at a very young age so I don't really remember the beginning). First I really liked it, then in my second year I got a very shitty teacher who hated me for some reason. He kind of ruined my French learning experience, but in year 3 I got a new teacher and he was like the complete opposite, he was simply awesome. Only because of him I know when to use passé composé and imparfait :lol: Year 4-7 were kind of boring. Well it sounds like I blame the teachers for everything but this is because I wasn't the super ambitious language learner back then, French was just one subject like all the other ones.
Ok, some more teacher blaming: I hate how we never really talked in French. I would have loved a discussion, a debate or something like that and not just for 3 minutes like we did from time to time but for the whole lesson. Now I know all the grammar rules but can't really speak.
After school I didn't really continue studying but I really don't want to forget everything I learned. I already forgot so much, it's pretty sad. :( Especially because I really love that language but I'm so occupied with other languages important things right now. I think I'm gonna read a French book soon. I still have my copy of "Le petit prince", the only book we read in French class. :)
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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby ege » 2015-02-21, 9:58

It was about about the end of the first year at high school. My primary foreign language was English and we were supposed to claim our choices for second foreign language, for which we had only 2 options: French and German.
I chose French but school administration pushed me in a class where the second language was German, that I didn't really have any intention to learn.. Then I decided to teach myself. I bought my first French grammar book and dictionary.
Maths, English, chemistry, literature etc. classes were taking almost all my time and French had to be my hobby, like a spare time activity. These times, at the age of 15, I realized that I was really a language lover although my high school branch was science. I was really enjoying the time spent on learning French.
At the university, where I could have more spare time I focused more on French. Today I can say that my French level passed my English. Now I feel myself in a total ease when I speak French. Along with French, the language which aroused my interest and curiosity about learning foreign languages, I started to teach myself other foreign languages like Russian and Spanish.
German ? Well,after high school in university I had some attempts to reanimate my carved-and-forgotten German I had at high school but I couldn't really have an affection to this language even though I have a solid base.
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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby ceid donn » 2015-10-16, 19:04

Old, dead thread, I know, but I'm bored. :P

Even though my grandfather was a francophone and my dad grew up in a francophone community in New England, I did not have any real exposure to French as a child. I took German for four years in high school, and then I started learning French in college, the summer between my freshmen and sophomore years. I took a beginner's immersion class that summer with a French native, a French fencing champion and son of one of my uni's drama professors. He was a w e s o m e and so much fun. Everyone ace'd that class because he was such an amazing teacher. Possibly the best language teacher I've ever had. But then my sophomore year I took a regular 2nd year French class at my uni with a typical non-native speaker teacher who just wanted to teach us verb conjugations out the wazoo. I did not do so well in that class and ended up withdrawing to avoid getting a bad grade on my transcript.

After that, I mainly used my meager A2-ish French skills to talk to French ex-pats, Cajuns and other francophones around campus and around Houston. Because I'm a franco-american and really look the part, it wasn't unusual for me to have francophones who were complete strangers walk up to me in grocery stores, bookstores, etc and start speaking French to me. I learned quickly to flub my way through conversational French. Of course my grasp of grammar was appalling but I could communicate.

I used French a lot in grad school, so my reading skills improved dramatically above the rest of my ability. But after grad school, I moved to a city with no significant franco-american population and so I was deprived of the regular francophone encounters I had back in Houston to keep my wonky French skills going. Eventually I started to study, self-learner style, on and off, as I would get frustrated and have to stop for a while. But fortunately, every time I came back to French it seemed I was picking up at a more advanced level than my previous reboots. Now I feel that fluency is genuinely an achievable goal for me and I'm hoping to get into a solid C1 level and beyond in the very near future.

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Re: When, where (etc.) did you start learning French?

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-16, 19:53

I've never studied French formally. When I was in junior high, I got my hands on some cheap language self-instruction books, including one for French. I never did much with it. I learned Spanish in high school and taught myself Catalan during college, which gave me some passive understanding of written French at least. My first exposure to natural spoken French came during a couple of brief visits to France during my year abroad. By the time I graduated college, I had picked up enough that was able to hack my way through Sébillot's La mythologie et folklore de Bretagne.

After that, I bought a couple collections of Maupassant's short stories and read through them slowly. A couple years later, I visited Europe again and was able to have a conversation with a Hungarian in which I spoke English and he responded in French. I continued to read in French--short stories, magazine articles, BDs, etc. And then about five years ago I met a Franco-American who took me on a trip to Québec and that really spurred my study. I dusted off a textbook of Cajun French given to me by a colleague and perused it thoroughly.

Now I read French more comfortably than I do Catalan. Recently I read Madame Bovary and I've graduated to where I no longer read French literature in translation. My speaking and listening comprehension are still garbage, however.
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