New Front: French

In this case, the interest in French arose naturally for various reasons. I would summarise them as a passion for languages, a need for discipline and, let’s say, an “obligation” to finish something already started.

Getting a good level in this language was a much easier task than in the other two, as I had the following handicaps:

· It is a language much more similar to my mother tongue, Spanish

· I had a very good background from school and high school. French was usually the optional subject I opted for

· Very appropriate methodologies and resources to learn in the fastest and most enjoyable way possible.

I must point out that learning a language is not a bed of roses. There are many ways, and many of the methodologies may not work for different people, or depending on where you are in your life. For example, now with less time to devote to the language, making it fun becomes much more important.

I therefore list here the main activities I have been carrying out in chronological order, and describe how helpful they have been:

1. Duolingo. In my opinion, perfect to start with because of its simplicity and incentives to develop a habit, though limited. After getting a 30-day streak, it was no longer the best way.

2. It is essential to know enough grammar, because from there you can intuit the sentences much better and learning becomes much more mechanical.

I would say that the rule of thumb is: if in practically all contexts you can recognise every type of word in the sentence (nouns, verbs, which are the determiners, etc.), and you have a basic-medium vocabulary, it is time to leave the traditional methods and integrate the language as much as possible.

3. Pokemon. I already know myself, playing games in other languages works incredibly well. But the dialogues aren’t that necessary, so it soon fell off.

4. Professor Layton. Much less well known but a spectacular videogame in every way. It is about a detective professor who, together with his assistant Luke, must solve a main mystery and numerous enigmas along the way.

In “Pandora’s Box”, a mysterious box is known to cause the death of whoever opens it.

In “The Lost Future”, after the premiere of scientist Dimitri Allen’s time machine, he and the Prime Minister disappear without a trace. The detectives will have to find out what is really going on in the London of the future.

Example of an Enigma

5. Youtube channels. Most relevant ones are:
ScienceEtonnante in science, great for ear training and logical argumentation.
EtienneBacrot (professional), BlitzStream (for all audiences), Julien Song (analysis) and Joachim Mouchamad (blogger & player) in chess, each with their own style of content.

Playing and translating at the same time, the hours flew by. Consolidation of grammar, expressions and useful vocabulary was the reward.

6. LeMonde. The paper was my way of forcing myself to read, and I even bought a subscription, but its convoluted vocabulary and lack of interest in it didn’t take me any further.

7. Italki. This famous platform for connecting tutors and students was a great help to me because with Karen, my teacher, I was forced from the very first moment to speak in conversation practice on all subjects. In this way, all the skills were more or less on a par.

8. Articles in French. Anything related to health, recipes, automobiles, etc., on specialised blogs. Their main benefit is that they cut to the chase, are well-written and are visited with a clear purpose – to read carefully and obtain specific information

Today, as well as German, I use French to consume online content, watch chess, and occasionally do some reading. Also, France made a good impression on me when I visited to play in a chess tournament in 2022, and it left me wanting to go back. Who knows if one day it will be more…

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