Bon jour. Comment allez-vous? In case you were wondering, this means “Hello, how are you?” in French. It seems like forever since I took my first French class in high school, but one thing is for sure: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I signed up for it. To be honest, I learned much more than how to say a few phrases in a foreign language. In fact, there were quite a few unexpected benefits I received from my French class that you stand to gain too, when you sign up for a French class.
Showing Up and Learning About Yourself
One of the first things you stand to benefit by taking a French class is learning how to show up regularly and participate. Like most foreign language courses, it will be difficult to keep up with the content if you aren't present or choose not to pay attention. Participating in French class also provides you with an opportunity to practice using a new language and improves your ability to listen and how to pronounce the vocabulary properly. Paying attention also provides your teacher with a non-verbal cue that you are dedicated to performing well, which means they'll be more apt to help you if you run into a few snags along the road. This is true for online french classes as well. You need to be present to learn.
Taking a French class also helps you get to know yourself and your learning style a little better. Most likely, you'll need to test out a few different ways of studying to find one that works for you. Some people learn best through vocabulary flashcards and repetition. Others read books or stories in French while memorization mnemonics and practicing writing properly structured sentences are helpful as well. Once you decide what works best for you, try changing it up now again for a fresh approach to learning. You'll be surprised to learn all the ways you can best retain the information you learn in French class.
Understanding Expectations and Asking Teachers for Help
On the first day of French class, you will learn the expectations for the course. Most teachers provide a syllabus which serves as a roadmap for success. The syllabus typically contains important exam information, grading scales, objectives of the class, the instructor's contact information and office hours, a schedule of assignments, and information on what you need to do if you need special accommodations. Following the recommendations of the syllabus will help ensure you're on the same page as your teacher and answers a lot of frequently asked questions.
Sometimes the syllabus doesn't provide enough information, and you have to learn how to approach your instructor for some help. It's also a good idea to ask your questions right away, so you don't find yourself begging your teacher for help the day before an exam. Unless your question is quick or pertains to the entire class, you should probably make an appointment to speak with your teacher. This way you will have one-on-one attention of your teacher and should have plenty of time budgeted to review the material. Making an appointment to speak with your teacher also sends a strong message that you are serious about their class. Reaching out via email is also a great way to stay connected with an online teacher.
Turning in Assignments
I don't know many people who like homework, but there are a few ways you stand to benefit from doing your French class assignments. The first thing you will learn is that some teachers weigh your grade heavily upon homework to make sure you spend time practicing what you've learned in French class. The great thing about this is that it prepares you for tests and to meet the learning objectives the teacher may have for you. Homework also helps you to remember and practice what you've learned and shows your teacher that you are serious about passing the class. Be sure to turn it in on time to get all your points. If you’re submitting your work online, make sure it is fully uploaded before closing down your computer. You want to make sure your hard work actually get counted towards your grade.
Building Vocabulary and Using Notecards
Building your vocabulary is another one of the benefits you will gain from taking a French class. Flashcards are a great way to build your base vocabulary, with the word on one side and the definition on the other. Verbs pose a challenge when learning foreign languages, so as you're practicing these words, be sure to identify the correct tenses with your definitions. Visualizing the terms as pictures, using colors to identify different parts of speech, and grouping related words together as you practice them may help you to remember. Having someone quiz you using your cards is a great way to test your memory and comprehension. Once your vocabulary is between 3,000 to 5,000 words, some teachers recommend that you begin reading to expand your base vocabulary even further. Imagine reading a book in French!
Using Proper Grammar and Writing
Taking a French class will give you a new-found appreciation for grammar and improve your writing skills. Properly structuring sentences and correct usage of vocabulary standardizes the way language works. In essence, grammar provides the framework and order necessary for you and those around you to properly read, write, and comprehend each other. A lot of people rely on mnemonics and word associations to help them memorize grammar rules. Listening to people speak French also helps new speakers get used to the sentence structure and gender of new vocabulary.
Learning to speak a language is one benefit of taking a French class, but one of the added benefits is learning to write in French. Your teacher will most likely assess your writing abilities by giving you written assignments, including essays. When your teacher first starts assigning written work, the themes may be fairly simple. As your vocabulary expands, you'll be expected to show how well you grasp the language. Some of the red flags teachers are watching out for are: improper grammar, spelling errors, and overuse of the same words repeatedly throughout your writing. Over time, you'll be able to show off your grammar, expanded vocabulary, and great writing skills!
You may be tempted to use online translation tools when you begin writing for your French class. I suggest you reserve the use of online tools for checking your work. Although they may seem like an easy way to write a paper, they oftentimes leave clues that you haven’t written original work for yourself. Not only can this be considered cheating, but you’re really missing out on an opportunity to truly learn.
Working in Groups and Giving Presentations
One of the other benefits of French class is learning to work in groups. Sometimes reviewing material together helps you to iron out things that didn't quite make sense in class. Just be sure not to allow yourself to get side-tracked by having too many people in your group. Working through the questions or concerns in a smaller group makes sure everyone thoroughly understands concepts and will better prepare you and your classmates for taking the exams. Reviewing things with your group also provides you with a forum to practice some of your new conversational skills.
Another benefit you will get from French class is practice speaking in front of an audience. Many French class teachers assign a speech or brief presentation for you to prepare and present. This is a great opportunity for you to follow the instructions given by your teacher, using the proper vocabulary and abiding by the requirements of the assignment. Be sure to practice in front of your group so they can give you pointers on how to improve your grammar and vocabulary before the final presentation. If you’re taking your French class online, some schools offer an opportunity to give presentations online. What a great chance to practice in a real-world situation without putting too much at risk.
Taking a French class will teach you a lot of new skills. You will learn how to take responsibility for yourself, show up for class, and participate. You will learn how to navigate the expectations of your teacher and how to stand up for yourself when you need a little extra help. You’ll develop the ability to deliver your assigned work on time, build your vocabulary, and gain confidence in your grammar and writing skills. Lastly, you’ll learn how to be part of a team and feed confident speaking in front of others.
Although I learned many of these skills when I took my first French class, you can start working on them in any learning environment. Some students choose to learn a foreign language at a traditional school and others choose to learn from home. Thankfully, learning at home doesn’t mean you can’t reap all the benefits of taking a French Class. Enlightium Academy is an accredited online private Christian school that offers a number of different foreign language classes where you can begin acquiring these skills sets for yourself. If you’re interested in learning more, click on the button below.