Jumping right in is a technique I have often advocated on this blog and you will undoubtedly have heard mainly people in the cyber sphere saying the same. It’s not new advice but still so many people don’t need it. Why is that? Learning any new thing, not just learning French in France takes you into unknown realms that are outside of your comfort zone and your mind naturally tries to avoid these areas. The brain is very sneaky and does this in all sorts of ways, me and one of the students in my intensive French immersion course were chuckling to ourselves about how when we have a particularly demanding bit of work we need to do we find ourselves doing things like tidying our rooms or reorganising our files. We haven’t made a conscious decision to post-pone our work but we have been tricked into thinking these tasks are important and we really should get them done because we have been neglecting them recently.
Yes, when you are doing a French language stay in the South of France the brain isn’t always your friend and can often deceive in an extremely innovative and insidious ways. After all who knows you better!? There are things you can do though that can help you do battle against this most crafty of combatants which can help push through these traps and pitfalls and make you the master of your own progress.
First things first, identifying the times when you may be slacking off without realising is a huge step. Giving yourself breaks and free time is important for long term learning but earning those periods of respite is equally important, if you say to yourself I’ll work for 2 hours and then give myself an hour break it doesn’t really count if the 2 hours you spend ‘learning’ involves doing some work on your computer with half the screen devoted to your favourite Netflix series. Netflix is great for learning French but best to do one or the other otherwise you are doing both things half-hearted and it’s not productive at all.
Tips to Keep Trucking During Your French Immersion
Focus is important and getting in front of a computer or your books for a couple hours trumps a whole day of the semi-learning you get from having the radio on or having a film on in the background. You will probably notice when you start a session of work in this purer form that this is when the rush of potential areas for procrastination come storming in. For me I find it easy to fend off the things like going to the cinema or watching a movie as I think they are only entertainment and that is not a constructive use of my time but what is harder is when I get a little voice in my head that says things like ‘you should really tidy your room’ or ‘you haven’t called your grandma in a while’. In fact, just typing that has filled me with the temptation to stop writing this article and go and call my grandma, after all that’s just me being a good grandson, right? Also, when my phone keeps buzzing away I wonder if I should check it because friends are important and I don’t want to push friends aside because of work. All of these things conspire to take you away from this area of unfamiliarity when you are learning French in France, it’s tricky and the brain typically prefers things you are good at because that makes you feel good.
One simple technique I’ve seen orbiting the language sites online involves counting down from 5 when you get to one of these crossroads. You know that feeling where there is something you know you’re supposed to be doing but everything in your mind is telling you not to do it? Well when this happens during your French language stay next time try simply taking a few big deep breaths and then counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then when you get to 0 just move. If you are wanting to do a writing exercises for your intensive French lessons just start writing, if you want to do a listening exercise just press play on the disc or wherever you are playing it from. Just simply put on foot in front of the other figuratively speaking.
This provides a good start for getting through the grind whilst learning French in France. Identify when you are doing a bit a faffing or planting ridiculous reasons not to do something in front of yourself and then when you become in tune with when you throw up these road blocks just count down with some deep breaths and just move. You’ll be surprised how effective these two things are and how much they help you with your French immersion stay in France.