Here is something for those readers who think that learning to speak French fluently is too difficult.
On the morning of June 6, 2012, I heard an interview in French on Radio-Canada with Professor Dick Howard of SUNY (State University of New York), Stony Brook, New York. Professor Howard was commenting some election results in Wisconsin.
I have to congratulate Professor Howard on his awesome French language skills. Despite an obvious accent, he was able to express himself in a sophisticated, witty and idiomatic manner. This was about as good as it gets from a person whose native language is not French.
I do not know how he learned to speak French. Whatever he did worked wonders. Congratulations.
A bit of searching on the internet turned up the fact that he had studied in France and had cultivated major professional connections with French academia.
What was also interesting to read is that Professor Howard is a regular guest in the French-language media and present in all kinds of panels, institutions and organizations where knowledge of French is useful.
Why am I bringing this up? It’s not so much about how Professor Howard learned French as how being able to speak French very well is a valuable skill when combined with other professional interests.
Being highly bilingual with nothing else is probably not worth that much in itself, but bilingualism with some other skill is a potent combination. Since most people who take up French quickly give up because it seems so difficult, the ability to speak it well is a rare skill indeed which inevitably is noticed.
This brings me to the key point. I have never ever met anybody who regrets speaking more than one language. On the other hand, I have met many English-speaking people who regret not being able to speak French, let alone another language.
Many people take the view that English is so widespread that there is no point in learning other languages, That is precisely why the ability to speak other languages than English is so valuable.
Why should the people learning English reap the benefits of bilingualism? It works the other way around too.
None of this is really new, and most readers have heard it before. The real issue is how do you get there. What does it take to really speak French fluently and accurately? This is what this website is all about.
A leitmotiv is all my posts is the observation that although spoken French has its difficulties and quirks, it’s not really that hard to learn. In fact, it is much easier than written French. Just keep in mind that only a small part of the language is used in ordinary speech.
Yes, there is a learning curve. But once you get past the pronunciation, it’s pretty much clear sailing if you keep focused on the spoken language. I’ll do what I can to help.