To gain a deeper understanding of the general experience of learning French I’ve decided to interview my fellow students at the ILA French Immersion School in Montpellier France. We will be discussing what they hope to utilise the French language for and there are a few questions just for fun. Lena was someone I became extremely close with over my time here. We started off in the same class and have been ritually having lunch over the past 2 months which began as the other people in our group wanted to speak in English but we wanted to work on our French.
What is your hometown like?
Sirnach is a small village in the countryside of north-east of Switzerland, in the region of Wil-SG. It has a population of 20,000 people so everyone knows everyone but it’s growing. I grew up in the next village but some of my friends moved over and had space in their house. Me and my boyfriend wanted to utilise the better facilities here. In the house was 5 other friends as well which is great, we are like a little family. There is a great night café where we know the owners really well and it has a nice community feel to it. It is very country! You can bicycle around everywhere and it is very picturesque. Winterthur is a city nearby that is more alternative and there is lots to do so this is where we go for a night out or for a day in town.
If you could learn 3 languages apart from French instantly what would they be and why?
1. Greek : I have a friend who lives there and when I travelled there to visit her I thought it was a very interesting language. It has lots of interesting symbols, sometimes latin influence, sometimes old greek. You can see the roots and the clues of its heritage. Very interesting to learn another alphabet as I already speak a lot of the Romance languages.
2. Polish : My boyfriend works with 2 polish people and from talking to them I learned you can get around that part of the world a lot. Originally I wanted to learn Russian but heard you can use Polish in more countries in the balkans. Also there are many poles in Switzerland.
3. Romansch : 4th language of Switzerland. It is used by mainly mountain dwellers and is a mix of German and latin which I find very interesting.
Which countries are you excited about using the French you’ve learned during your French immersion course?
Mainly Africa. It is a part of the world I have a bit of a calling to. I have always found it interesting but my boyfriend has heritage in Africa and this has only deepened my interest. His dad is from the Congo so travelling around (the safe parts) will be better if I can speak French. Switzerland also OF COURSE!
What are your reasons for learning French?
As I said I’m very interested to travel to Africa with boyfriend and learn French with him. It would be fun and very romantic to learn about his roots whilst travelling around such a beautiful part of the world. I learned French for 6 years at school but I just wasn’t interested. From talking to the other students at the ILA French Immersion School I feel like this is quite common and yet now we are all super fascinated by the language and want. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much is still in my head as well and it feels great. I think you really need motivation to learn a new language as it is not always easy, you need something in your mind to push you through those days where it feels impossible. Also I’m just about to start my own business and being able to move freely within Switzerland without the fear of the language barrier would be a priceless advantage.
I have already learnt Spanish and English and just have general love for learning languages. I think I will continue throughout my life. I’m focusing on applicable languages right now but I think in the future I would love to learn Latin or one of the ancient languages so I see the full evolution of different tongues.
Interviewing Lena you can tell she has a real passion for languages. I have been trying to keep up with her the whole time I have been here and she has been an inspiration and a great teacher. I have tried to repay her by teaching her some fun aspects to the English language which have become visible to me from spending so much time with the internationals at the ILA French Immersion School. Lena has so much interesting insight into the process of learning French in France as well as linguistics in general and I feel lucky to have been able to spend my some of my time in Montpellier being corrected by her.
Lena, Switzerland (ILA student)