I shall offer a snippet of this conversation with translations to show you why it blew me away. I am well, and you? Du quel region est-vous? What region [of France] are you from?
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When she asked me what region of France I was from, I just about flipped out! By this time period, I had lived in France for about seven months. I have known people who have lived in the United States for years, including my maternal grandfather whom I never met however I know this from oral family history that never lost their accents.
I had always worked with the goal of losing my American accent with Spanish and French , but never had anyone mistake me really for a native speaker in such a workaday way as this woman from Normandy did that fateful morning. I finally told her the truth, as I did for that customer back in Dijon six months earlier, but with more detail:. However, I have been living in France for the past seven months. Her response, and the look in her face was priceless.
Her eyes widened with bewilderment and surprise. You speak like a French woman! First, I listened more.
How I listened more was that I listened closely to the people I spoke with, to the music CDs, radio stations and television stations I listened to, and to how my teachers spoke. When I listened more, I was able to hear how French native speakers pronounced certain words and letters.
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In regards to mimicking , I mimicked not only sounds. I also mimicked the way I moved my mouth, positioned my tongue and my lips — even body language. What helped with mimicking even the way I moved my mouth, tongue, lips and body came from the third change I made, which was to watch native speakers in action.
Watching native speakers not only came from the ones I interacted with. One of the greatest tools I used for learning French was just to watch native speakers interact with one another. I listened to their pronunciation, intonation, and also watched how they greeted and parted from each other. I watched how they reacted when they talked about certain things in regards to facial expressions and body language.
I also watched what their mouths looked like when they pronounced certain words, and said certain phrases. However, it took more than just mimicking, listening and watching what native speakers did differently from me. It also took practice, which is the fourth thing I changed. I also thought the sounds in my head while reading and writing.
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These techniques work with languages too — more so than I ever thought until I met that couple from Normandy. I am currently applying these techniques towards learning German and Polish. What it takes to make that happen though is to know how much of your native accent is showing through while you speak your foreign language. Here are my favourite suggestions to get you started:. Write or say it out loud and if you have time create sentence examples. But what about when your days are pretty random?
How can you be sure to still get some language in? Maybe you also log into MSN when you get in every day. Either way, you definitely have some habits in your day that I guarantee happen every.
Brushing your teeth is a great example. Brushing your teeth is likely already a well-formed habit in your daily life. Well, learning a language and making that a habit works in the same way. But to make things easier to begin with, stack your new language habit onto your already formed teeth-brushing habit. You could start by counting, or repeating new words in your head and seeing if you can put them into sentences.
Whatever you choose, this is the simplest way to begin a language habit and start learning a language without changing your routine. In which case, make sure that the time you get with media alone is as best spent as possible. However, going all in can be tricky and if you find yourself craving a little listen to your favourite band that sings in a language you fully understand, do it.
My good friend and fellow language fanatic, Kerstin Cable recently launched The Language Habit Toolkit to help you do just that. The Toolkit consists of PDF pages that you can print out and maybe even stick into your notebook like Kerstin does!
Click here to learn more and get your copy of The Language Habit Toolkit. One of the best ways to make the most of the time you have is to waste as little time as possible picking resources. What will you do to make language learning a habit? Share in the comments below! The more stuff you check off, the more damage you deal to your boss. Some easy learning is the artist radio function on Spotify from an artist in your target language which I listen to at work and getting some spaced repetition in on the bus, as well as removing English as a language you understand on Facebook.
You then get a translation link under all your friends posts. I have a post about Spotify coming out in a few weeks! Social media is a great tool for language learning! You have amazing taste Lindsay.
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Did you just eat one biscuit? I used to love taking the top off bourbons and custard creams to get to the bit in the middle — yum! Type of thing.
Would you care less about the pronouns for yourself? A table and tree are it , and only people are he or she. Gendered languages: Russian, German, and French are prominent examples of this kind of language, in which both people and objects are given a gender. These terms are undoubtedly beneficial, helping to allow for expression of gender fluidity. But are they enough?
One participant wrote:. If it seems like English-speakers are dissatisfied, the situation for speakers of gendered languages—which stipulate strict gender distinctions for both humans and objects—is far worse. In the same survey, transgender French respondent was clear and succinct:. That the language is very gendered is a big problem in my life. This pronoun is not typically applied to people; instead it is used only for objects with neuter noun names. A few gender pioneers, however, have co-opted it. Polina Ravlyuk, a Russian blogger who runs an information portal on gender and gender identification, wrote to me in an email:.
There can also be situations where a woman can refer to herself in the masculine way grammatically and vice versa. Faced with that level of discrimination, the use of pronouns can seem far down the list of priorities. Tosha, a young Russian who identifies as agender, told me:. Maybe someday I could use them, though. It shapes how we are thought about and sometimes contributes to social dysphoria.