December 29, 2013, by Guest blog

I spend a good majority of my free time in the local patisserie

Post written by Katherine Hughes.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already spent three months in France. If I’m honest, it’s gone by much more quickly than my time spent in Germany but I think everybody’s experience abroad is influenced, however marginally, by the presence of other people. I can’t stress how much being surrounded by fellow foreign language assistants has affected my time here in Alencon. With so many different nationalities grouped together, the only common language is French so, naturally, my language acquisition has improved so much more than I would have thought possible, driven by the very essence of language: the need to communicate.

While my time spent at the two local colleges requires me to speak solely in English to the students, it’s only twelve hours per week with the remaining time being more than enough to practice the French language. I have joined the Amicale in my local college which means I get invited to events organised by the teachers of the school like the most recent trip to Mont Saint-Michel. It’s helped to improve my relationships with the teachers (which is handy if you’re ever in need of help…. like setting up a French phone contract) as well as been an invaluable opportunity to practice French with people who can actually correct and explain my mistakes in English!

Don’t judge me too harshly when I tell you that I spend a good majority of my free time in the local patisserie. I’m serious, it’s gotten to the point where the staff say À demain!’ when I leave. Anyway, the point of this confession is to show that you don’t need to do something super-duper exciting at every minute of the day to improve your language acquisition. Just spending an hour or so drinking coffee around French people has been so important in my comprehension of the language. I’m also pretty dedicated to updating my ipod with new music so I asked around and found the local Médiathèque. (Hard as it may be, try to imagine a well-funded library with up-to-date books, comics, CDs and DVDs.)

Obviously, joining a club is a good idea but, for those of you like me who can’t imagine anything worse than a trip to the local running track or Zumba class, then just look around for something you want to do. After all, this is your year abroad and you’re only going to put yourself out there, immerse yourself more within the culture and, inevitably, improve your ability in the language if you enjoy the experience!

Posted in Language acquisition