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Life-Changing Language

How one class can change your destiny

Does our title and sub-header sound dramatic enough for you? Should we turn up the volume a little bit more on how much we want you to learn French?!

Saying that learning a new language might change your life (particularly when a French language school says it - we’re a little bias, after all) might seem hyperbolic, but I don’t see it that way. My life is living proof that one class can forever alter the course of your life.

I began learning French in the 8th grade at a public school in the Midwest. I took it for one reason only - to compete with my sister. She was two years older than me and had been taking French classes for the past few years, and I was incredibly jealous everyday when she would come home spouting off words that I couldn’t understand. I’d steal her textbooks and dictionaries and look up words and phrases, desperate to remember them and fire back retorts across the dinner table. When it came time for me to sign up for my very first class in middle school, I already knew quite a bit of the language, simply from good old-fashioned sibling rivalry.

Apparently, language was my “thing”... I acquired a decent accent when I spoke, retained lots of vocabulary, and participated enthusiastically every day. But I didn’t do this for any particular reason — I didn’t set out with a goal of living in France, making French friends, and using French for work. I excelled in my early French courses because it felt fun, easy, and the teacher made it accessible to all.

By the time I was a junior in high school, I would stare at the maps in my French books and dream of what it would be like to travel around Europe. And by the time I entered college, I had a summer trip to France under my belt and a Bachelor of Arts degree in French plus ten years of living in France on the horizon.

Here’s what’s important to remember, though. French eventually got hard. The higher the level, the more challenging material I was given to read, watch, or listen to. When I moved to France, I struggled to make conversations with new friends at parties because their way of speaking was so unlike what I had learned in class. I went to grad school in Paris and my professors there were not in any mood to give me grammar or language lessons… they wanted me to apply myself to the best of my ability, like everyone else. And French lost some of its charm when I suddenly had to use it at the bank or when getting my visa or at work meetings.

But, through it all, one image remains with me. I can’t help but look back and think of the little girl stealing her sister’s textbooks. She had no idea that picking up this and that vocabulary word would eventually lead to travel, higher education, adventures, romances, friendships, a career, and so many experiences beyond her small Midwestern town. I think of our founder Julien growing up in France, mirroring the same behavior as mine while learning English (although I don’t think any sibling rivalry was involved). Our lives were completely changed - and our paths crossed - starting with one language course.

Dramatic, yes. And in writing these words, I realize that you might be at a place in your life where you are settled at home with family, a career, and many memories behind you, therefore not really looking to move abroad or embark on an entirely different journey. But in learning French, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of connecting with so many more people, even in your hometown. You’re allowing new customs, cultural practices, and ways of thinking into your life. And yes, you might just be lining yourself up with destiny and preparing for a big move abroad or meeting the love of your life en français.

Or you might just find a pastime that brings you lots of joy. In any case, I can only see the benefits.

For you and for myself.

J’ai hâte de découvrir votre avenir avec vous ! xx

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