December 16, 2013, by Guest blog

Practice makes perfect

Post written by Rosemary Ash.

After over three months of living in the country of the language you are studying, linguistic knowledge or skills are bound to have been gained in some form or another, or so you would hope! One portion of mine is comprised of a small vocabulary book I try to keep with me at all times, with a pen at the ready in order to add in any interesting or new words I come across.

This arrives from different situations. My work environment firstly; as an English assistant in a secondary school specialising in cars, as you can no doubt imagine I have picked up some rather niche vocab. More usefully for me though is when I manage to derive new words from social occasions. Having had the pleasure of being part of several dinner parties since being here, not only have I added some useful everyday vocabulary to my list, but as we all know how dinner conversations can take its turns, I have some rather more random and interesting additions too!

Simply being here though, and going through the daily motions of living and working has a marvellous way of highlighting to you the loopholes in not only your vocabulary, but also your grammar and syntax. But, as we’ve been told since children; practice makes perfect! And indeed slowly but surely you notice improvements in your turns of phrase.

Something that I love is when you begin to notice yourself using certain habitual words in your everyday speech that you’ve simply picked up from people around you. Those words that are used so often in natural speech by native people that you find from continuous exposure you have successfully internalised. It allows you to pride yourself on starting to feel a little bit more ‘French’. You’ll also acknowledge certain habitual phrases that although you may try to incorporate, may not come too naturally quite just yet.  A personal favourite of mine, which I simply love to repeat purely for the sheer fun of it is the oh so French, “Bahh…oui!”  which I can only aspire to be able to use instinctively some day!  And while of course this can all be derived from conversations you are directly engaged in, one can never underestimate the value of a little eaves-dropping… (and yes we can excuse ourselves, it’s for our education!)

Having already found some promising language acquisition to remark upon from my year abroad thus far, I can only hope to continue in this way, and keep improving my language in all its forms. For me and no doubt my other fellow linguists too, the chance to describe yourself as ‘fluent’ is a dream just waiting to be caught.

Posted in Language acquisition