There is no doubt that an understanding of the local language when living, working or visiting another country can seriously improve the quality of life. Have you ever noticed how a simple “bonjour” on entering a shop, or the ability to order your fruit and veg, changes the interaction between you and others? It brings a feel good factor, a sense of belonging and, let’s be honest, makes life far more interesting.
We asked two experts to talk about different methods and why it is important to make the effort.
Brian Treneman, Director at Languages Direct Limited explains how audio learning, in combination with illustrative magazines, can aid learning.
Ever wondered why it’s polite to greet with two kisses in Paris but better to give three in the Drôme or why there are quinze jours instead of fourteen in a French fortnight? Oui? There’s so much more to learning a new language than just vocabulary and spelling and a good audio/magazine package should provide an insight into la vie en France as well as the language.
They should also help you to improve your cultural IQ with features on politics, education, gastronomy, travel and everyday life. Currency, in terms of frequency rather than the financial aspects (although they are often included) will also provide a fantastic overview of what’s going on in France right now!
Professionally recorded audio narration by native French speakers will ensure perfect intonation and accent and the French you hear should be current and correct. The magazines are designed to be used in conjunction with these recordings so that you fully understand the conversation in all its forms.
Why Audio? Learning with audio makes the route to fluency quicker than with lessons alone, plus you have the added benefit of working through the audio programs and the magazines at your own pace. Simply select an article by level of difficulty then listen to the audio. All the main features are transcribed in the magazine and key phrases are glossed into English in the vocabulary section. You’ll also find pronunciation and diction exercises on the audio so you feel that you can actually join in and parlez français straight away! www.languages-direct.com
Joel Seaton Bailey, Director at The Old School, highlights how classroom or student-centred learning can enhance the gift of bilingualism.
The ability to speak, talk and understand one another fulfils our basic human instincts and desires. Communication drives our modern world, building bridges, enabling enterprise, developing creative and critical ideas, on a global basis.
It is, therefore, no surprise that when families move around global communities, a priority is for them and their children to digest other cultures and languages with the aim to become truly bilingual. Some may even see this as an asset and a gift, acquiring survival skills for the future as well as increased employment abilities. Gaining multicultural knowledge and, in particular, language development, enhances employability and analytical, critical and creative awareness.
The benefits of cultural and language skills are undeniable. However, to become truly bilingual it is essential that the passport country language skills are not lost or suspended at the point of transition. Language development should not be limited to that of a child and both cultural development and bilingualism should grow. If not, a personal can be left in a cultural no man’s land, neither part of their own passport country or their new adopted culture.
The very best environment to enable student centred learning (of any age) is undertaken by professionally qualified practitioners, subject specialists and teachers, in small groups where each lesson can be tailored to individual needs.
An important element that can be focused on within this type of structure is language confidence. Oral communication and presentation, running in tandem with formal literacy provides an ideal platform from which to learn. The ideal classroom setting not only enhances the importance of language development but also focuses on the enjoyment of acquiring these skills. To maximise classroom learning, it is really important to meet the teachers and gain an understanding of the education environment.
Throughout France there are many associations and language schools that enable and facilitate valuable opportunities for all ages to learn effectively. Lessons often take place on Wednesday, weekends, evenings and in school holiday periods. www.oldschoolfrance.com
Joel Seaton Bailey
Full listings of schools and language courses can be found in our website Business Directory under Education and Training: French Lessons and Language Schools.
First published in the January/February 2019 issue of The Local Buzz