Bonjour, mes ami(e)s!
For all y’all who don’t speak the language of love yet, that’s Hi, my friends!
There are so many different reasons that a person should study French. As a French major who has been studying the language since I was 10 or 11 years old, let me just start off by saying that learning a new language is not easy. Although difficult, it is one of the best choices I have ever made in my vie. Here are 8 reasons why I think that you should study French.
Need I say more? Foreign languages are sexy! Who wouldn’t want to know what that hottie is saying?
1. If you know more than one language, it’ll be a snap!
I also speak Spanish at home, so for those of you considering picking up a 3rd language, you will probably have a less difficult time learning.
2. Even for new learners, it isn’t that bad!
For those of you for whom this will be your first language learning experience- don’t be afraid! We all come into class on the first day not knowing a damn thing. Even learning how to say your ABCs and count to 100 is a challenge. You aren’y going to open your mouth and sound like Gerard Depardieu right off the bat. It just doesn’t work that way. I’ve been learning for 10+ years and I’m still learning now. Language is always re- inventing itself along with science, technology and social expectations. The function of global society is heavily founded on spoken and written language. It takes time to catch up on language trends, be introduced to slang, and know what phrases from your traditional text- book style studies are going out of style.
3. If you know English, then you’re at a pretty good starting place for learning French.
If you could learn a language as a baby saying your first words, you can do it now. Whether French is your second language or your fifth, being able to learn it as an English speaker is due to the fact that French is what we refer to as a Romance Language. A Romance language, like Spanish, is any language that originates from Latin. If you have ever encountered written French, you may notice that some of the words on the page look like words we use in English every day. Although English is considered a Germanic language, it also has roots in Latin.
Raisin in English means literally just that, a shriveled up raisin. In French, raisin means a ripe grape. Similar, but not the same.
Librarie looks like the word library in English. But in French, librarie means a bookstore where you pay money to buy books. A library where you rent books is called a bibliotheque in French. These things are called false cognates, in that they look like one word in one language, but they actually mean something totally different in another. Speaking another language, regardless of whether or not the language is French, is one of the best things you can do to understand the mechanics of your mother tongue.
4. Studying French will make you a better English speaker.
In also being an English major, I know the ins and out of English grammar and writing as I do French. At first, you will spend most of your time translating words and phrases into English and noticing that there is no such thing as a literal translation. If you want to say that someone is daydreaming in French, there is no word for “daydreaming”. Instead, a French daydreamer fait des chateaux en Espagne, or builds castles in Spain. Learning French makes a person more aware of the weight that their words and the imagery they invoke carry. French is accredited as being one of the most poetic languages, as it sometimes takes many intricate words to describe a simple concept. That is one of the most beautiful things about learning French; you now have access to an extensive vocabulary that influences a multitude of cultures. There was once a time when France was the powerhouse of the world and speaking French was a symbol of intelligence and deep intellectuality. Now, it is a symbol of global consciousness and sophistication.
5. You become more interesting.
When considering studying abroad or applying for jobs and internships, you are now more marketable to employers who will be able to send you on international business trips. You won’t have to live your whole life resigned to a cubicle if you don’t want to.
6. So many people all over the world already speak it.
Today, French is the official language of 20+ countries and territories, is still predominantly spoken in some regions of the United States, and is the official language of the United Nations. No matter if you are in Europe, Africa, North America, or anywhere else in the world, you will run into somebody that knows French. Knowing French will also make you a well- informed global citizen who will be able to talk about anything from current fashion trends to politics to even just asking where the bathroom is. When traveling abroad, even if you might not know the language of the country you’re visiting, it doesn’t hurt to ask if anyone parle français, you never know! Americans often receive a bad rep abroad for being unwilling to immerse themselves in other cultures or customs. By knowing French, you are already choosing to integrate yourself with more of the world’s population than inhabits the U.S.
7. You probably speak French every day and you don’t even know it!
We use bureau in English to mean desk. The word bouquet refers to a bunch of flowers. A brunette is somebody who has brown hair. When something is stylish, we say it’s chic. A depot is a storehouse. When you RSVP to an event, you are actually answering to a French acronym that stands for Répondez, S’il Vous Plaît, or Respond, please/ Respond as it pleases you.
8. Knowing French makes you a more motivated and compassionate individual.
When I first started learning French, I really didn’t want to. I wanted to continue learning Spanish, since I was already familiar with speaking it at home. My mom didn’t want for me to get an easy A and had me take French in middle school. Even though I didn’t like it as first, here I am ten years later glad that I listened to my mother for once. When you are faced with a new challenge that puts you out of your comfort zone, it makes you want to be a better you. Nobody wants to fail or give up. I’ve been working at it for half my life, and so far it’s given me some of the greatest experiences with people that I have ever had.
Being in the middle of Times Square or the Metropolitan Museum of Art and being able to help tourists who are struggling with their English, too shy and embarrassed to ask a stranger to take a picture of them, is a good feeling. In doing things like that, I am helping people make memories that will last a lifetime, even if I may never see their faces again. On the same token, when I go to Paris and I can ask somebody to help me get on the subway and they answer me back in French, that is everything that I’m working towards as a language major in a single moment.
9. Experiencing a social interaction that breaks down language and cultural barriers is experiencing a miracle.
For anybody who wants to experience la vie en rose, please, take the plunge.
You’ll be glad you did, I know I am.
More About the Author
Wandy is currently a French/ English major at St. John’s University in New York City. When she’s not rushing out of class to catch pics of the day’s sunset for her personal Insta @wandayyyyy, she can be found writing for Odyssey Online & Society19, dousing her quarter- life crisis in that third cup of coffee, or watching videos of cute dogs.
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