I have a lot of respect for those who go to countries where they don’t speak the language at all. I took French all throughout middle school and high school, and though it was a big help in figuring out my life here in Paris, I still felt like I was constantly running into language barriers.
While my French hasn’t mutated itself into the natural and easy fluency I was hoping for, I definitely think being here has been instrumental for my language skills. It’s one thing to spend years studying a language in a country where no one speaks it anyway, and another to actually see the language used in practice. Words and expressions have taken on new meanings and contexts while I’ve been here. My French is still very English-influenced, but more and more I’m seeing how actual French people speak French. However, one of my friends put it very well by saying that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. As I begin to understand how certain words and concepts are utilized in French, the more I’ve realized how limited my perception of the language is and how much improvement there will always be left to do.
Despite the seemingly endless stumbling blocks and the sheer speed with which French people talk, I managed to find some stride with the language a little over a month in. Less French people started making the automatic transition into English when they hear me talk (it’s especially frustrating when I only say “bonjour” and they immediately know ), and it feels like I’m learning a bit more everyday.