Why Am I Doing This?

Why Learn French?

For our second assignment in the current Add1Challenge (#A1C33) we were asked to write down or make a reminder in some way for why we wanted to learn this language.

For me the impetus to study French in particular was a combination of a few factors. Firstly, because I had studied for two years at school (several decades ago!), I figured I may as well start here and not waste those two years :). So it had been “On the To Do List” for over 20 years.

Then the real kickstarter was meeting a group of French Deaf last year at a conference, and a desire to continue my friendships with them. I really want to learn Langue des Signes Français (LSF, French Sign Language) to make communication easier, but because all LSF resources are supported by written or spoken French, I was finding that I was spending a lot of time going to translation dictionaries to double check the meanings. It got tiring very quickly! As well, since they returned to France, we are relying on written texts via WhatsApp, as they aren’t really into Skype video calls, and their time difference makes live conversation very difficult to organise. The next conference that I will likely see them at is in Barcelona in 2020, and I would like to be able to converse in their language, rather than depend on a mixture of English, French, LSF, American Sign Language (ASL), Auslan and then a bunch of gesture and mime!

Motivation is a really important part of learning a language. And sometimes we need a reminder for why we decided to start on this journey. Like any hobby, the first attempt doesn’t always work the way we hope, and if we forget why we are doing it, it is all too easy to get  discouraged. Sometimes, especially when it is simply a hobby and the results may take a while to be usable, I think language learning can be a particularly hard slog.

So give yourself something to focus on. Whether it is learning how to introduce yourself to others at a social gathering, passing a test of a particular level, enjoying an opera in your target language, or being able to negotiate a holiday in a country that speaks your target language, find a goal that is doable, and keep a reminder somewhere on a wall or as a wallpaper on your computer… even on the mirror in the bathroom! And on those days that it all just feels like hard work, remind yourself why you want to do this :).

How about you? What are your motivations behind your current language project? How do you keep yourself on task and energised enough to continue? Let me know in the comments below!

Cate is a language enthusiast sharing her language learning journey here. Apart from her native English (albeit 'Strine'*!), as an adult she has also learned Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to approximately a C1 level, Dutch to around B1/2, French to around A2, and has a smattering of other languages.

B.A. (Anthropology/Marketing), Grad. Dip. Arts (Linguistics), Grad. Cert. Entrepreneurship & Venture Development, (CELTA).

Auslan Interpreter (NAATI), and general Language Nut.

*For more information on 'Strine', visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strine