Learning A Language: Why It’s Important If You Want To TRAVEL

Having the ability to speak another language is one of the most admirable, useful and incredible skills we can have. Nothing else quite compares. Yet in Australia, learning a language is not overly encouraged or common. We already speak English, which has become a sort of universal language in itself, so why would we need to learn another? Since I was young, I’ve always had an interest in other cultures and ways of life and as I grew up, I came to realise the extremely important role that language plays in a culture.

At my high school, it was compulsory to study French for a year. However, that year was year 8, when everyone’s about 14 years old and really doesn’t care about school, let alone learning another language. I really took to it, and chose it as an elective for year 9 & 10. I wanted to continue it for year 11 & 12 however my school put French and Mathematics on at the same time so I had to make a decision. I chose French, however because of it being the same time as Mathematics, they didn’t have enough numbers. So I looked in to doing French by correspondence. I remember my year advisor taking me out of class one day to talk to me about my subject selection. He told me how French was not going to contribute towards a university degree or a career, unlike Mathematics. He told me students who take Mathematics at high school do far better in their HSC (high school certificate) and go on to get better ATARS (an ATAR is a number we use in Australia to determine what university courses you can get in to – so it’s pretty important). So… listening to my teacher and his ‘world of wisdom,’ I decided against doing French and chose Mathematics instead.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve never used that Mathematics in my life, that subject didn’t even contribute towards my final HSC mark, it’s compulsory for me to study a language as part of my degree, and I’ve just finished an intensive short course in France. Mmmm…. Yep, it seems that French really has not been beneficial in my life at all.

(To read about my short course in La Rochelle, click here).

Travelling and meeting people from across the world has helped me realise the true importance of learning a language. So here are my reasons for why learning a language is one of the most valuable life skills you’ll ever learn.

IMG_0810

It’s respectful

In Australia, we never have people come up to us in shops, restaurants, on the street to ask us something in their native language. If they did we should shoo them away and  think ‘you’re in Australia mate.’ However as soon as the role is reversed and you’re on a Eurotrip trying to order tapas and beer, it’s OK for you to speak English and expect the other person to know English as well?

Even if you’re not perfect and make mistakes, that’s OK. They’ll appreciate you trying.

It’s so much more than being able to say hello

When going to a new country, a lot of people learn hello, thank you and good bye. Whilst this is a good start, being able to be conversational in a language opens you up to so many more experiences. Sadly, French is the only language I (partly) speak. At the beginning of August I spent a week in Spain (awesome right?!) And yes it was indeed awesome, but I genuinely struggled with the language barrier. Sure, everyone spoke English and we could get by, but I couldn’t help but constantly feel reminded of the fact that I was a tourist. I felt like I was missing out on something. Whilst of course I had an amazing time, I’m sure that if I spoke Spanish, even just a little bit, I would’ve had an even more incredible time.

Screenshot 2016-07-26 22.05.49

It allows you to have a much more genuine travel experience

By being able to speak the language of the country you’re in, you’re going to feel much more immersed in their authentic culture. You can meet locals at bars, tell them about your life and learn about theirs, discuss current topics and the country you’re in.

It’s a skill that you have to keep working at

Sure, knowing a language is a lifelong skill, but you have to keep practising. And the best way to practice isn’t in a classroom or on an app, but by travelling or better yet, living in that country and speaking that language all day every day. Is there any other skill you can think of that forces you to travel? Cool right!

IMG_0870

You’ll learn a lot about yourself

By learning a language, you not only learn about verbs, tenses and vocab, but you also learn a lot about yourself and your personal style of talking and about you. This one is hard to explain so I’ll just use an example. My grammar is by far my low point of my French skills. Tell me a rule and I’ll remember it and use it. But don’t then tell me there’s a million exceptions to this rule… hello passé composé! But my speaking and oral skills are by far my best. Sure, you need grammar to talk properly, but it’s not the biggest deal if you use the wrong tense or use ‘tu’ instead of ‘vous.’ Many of my French friends have told me and sure they notice it, but personally I’d prefer to be able to talk to people and express my opinions and thoughts that be able to write an essay with perfect grammar.

I think this just says about me as a personal that I don’t sweat all of the rules and I’m happy to go with the flow and just have some fun, even if you make a few mistakes along the way.  Well, that’s just my little psychoanalysis of myself.

 

My month studying French in La Rochelle is probably one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m incredibly proud of myself and that I managed to learn more about a language and culture, but also myself.

Parlez-vous français?

French. The language of love. Featuring in T.V shows like Madeline since we were little, kick starting my obsession with everything French. And I know what you’re thinking ‘oh you’re just like every other girl who loves the idea of France and Paris…’ well… I’m different (of course). After visiting Paris 3 times last year, it’s only enhanced my love affair with the City of Lights more. I’m currently studying French at university and one day, want to speak it fluently! So, this is a way for me to a. share with you some reasons that I love the French language and all things French, b. to write some more in my blog, and c. a major form of procrastination (my french exam is next week). So this is what I LOVE about the french language!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvyMG0z0FZY The Music – Carla Bruni is definitely my pick when it comes to French music. Sweet melodies and meaningful lyrics (once you decipher them), I always have her music playing in the background and find myself humming along! If your music style is a bit more upbeat… try Stromae (to party and dance to), or Yelle (the French equivalent to Katy Perry). Listening to French music helps familiarise yourself with certain vocabulary and you sound pretty cool if you can sing a song in another language!

A Jazz band I saw at a Brasserie. The guy playing the trumpet kept taking swigs of something from his flask. Very entertaining!
A Jazz band I saw at a Brasserie. The guy playing the trumpet kept taking swigs of something from his flask. Very entertaining!

The Films – French films are renowned for their romance and quirkiness. Amelie is one of the most well known French films, highlighting the beauty of Paris and French cinema’s unique traits. Les Intouchables is a lovely feel good movie with drama and comedy, Un Secret is about the Nazi Occupation of France and Amour,  a beautiful love story where you’ll use a whole box of tissues.  These French films are some of my favourite and I’d highly recommend them. Watching French films helps you become familiar with the phrases, speed and intonations, all of which you can’t really learn in a classroom. The Drinks – Whilst one would assume that France (Paris) has good coffee, you are seriously mistaken! Instead, don’t miss out on happy hour cocktails! Usually 5 euros and they’re delicious! The more cocktails you drink, the more confident you get in your French speaking skills, an opportunity not to be missed!

Lovely cocktail in my favourite brasserie, Le Chat Noir, Montmartre
Lovely cocktail in my favourite brasserie, Le Chat Noir, Montmartre

The Food – If you order food/drinks in French, you’re waiter will be a million times nicer to you than someone who points at what they want. And if your waiter is nice to you, then the whole experience just becomes delightful! Also, don’t forget to tip! When You’re Lost – The amount of times a bit of basic French helped me get out of sticky situations, losing my way around Montmartre, can’t find the exit in the Metro, and asking how to get to x, has saved me a lot of confusing time! Make sure you scrub up on your directions before going! Les garçons! – And of course don’t forget about the most important reason why you’ll need your French skills up to scratch, the number of cute French guys you’ll see around.

*

Some Common Phrases You Might Need

Hello = Bonjour

Goodbye = Au Revoir

I would like = Je voudrais… (you can then point or pronounce what you’d like to order)

Please = S’il vous plaît

Thankyou (very much) = Merci (beaucoup)

The bill please = L’addition s’il vous plaît

I’m lost = Je suis perdu

You’re cute (for the french boys) = Tu es mignon!

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? (just kidding)

*

So if those spectacular reasons don’t motivate you to start learning French I don’t know what will?!

Bisous x

A

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
My favourite Eiffel Tower picture to date. Taken from the Sacre Coeur, Montmartre