French is an extremely unique in the pronunciation and spelling of words, as they often contain hidden letters within that are not spoken. The hard “r” sound in French can also be difficult for non-native speakers. Fear not, French is fun once you get the hang of it.
Hearing native speakers for the first time in Rennes, a city of which I was not familiar, was daunting. I found that listening was the greatest tool of all from phonetics to syntax. I tried my best to imitate the sounds my host parents made and the slang words that my host sister used, because textbook French doesn’t teach you verlan (par exemple: meuf pour la femme) or phrases such as “piquer un fard”. To me, this was important, as I wanted to sound more natural and advance my level of French for when I return to the classroom setting.
Furthermore, the concept of gendering inanimate objects is curious for a native English speaker. Who knew tables were feminine? Through listening carefully to the “le” and “la” placement, I felt invigorated in my memorization skills. My favorite thing though about the French language is how many homophones that make for great tongue twisters. My host mom would often give me funny tongue twisters as an after-dinner game. This aided my pronunciation, but I did love seeing other family members get stumped.
France, overall became an important experience for me, because the language shows history and cultural norms that I would not have known if I did not study abroad. To me, it is important to study another language and, linguistically, French proved to me that there is more than meets the eye.