Learning French: A Life-Long Love Affair

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December 10, 2021

Photo by Timo Stern and words by Isabelle Nicolas.

When people ask me how I became a multilingual expat, they often expect me to answer that I am particularly gifted at learning languages, which in my humble opinion, isn’t really the case. I honestly believe that my multilingualism is driven by the fact that I love to learn new things. Learning French, and foreign languages, in general are indeed one of the many skills I find useful, rewarding, and exciting to integrate in my life.

So many English speakers falsely believe that they are not good at learning languages, especially French. It’s just not their thing.

Is this something you can relate to? If you’ve been learning French for years or for the past few weeks only, perhaps you are wondering how you can keep your motivation through the inevitable phases of discouragement? What is the best way to enjoy the learning process without feeling overwhelmed after a few months? How can you get past the I don’t think this is for me stage, which all French learners feel at some point or another on their learning journey?

Whether you have been living in Suisse romande for many years or you have just arrived, here is my best advice to you : treat learning French just like a relationship with a very special loved one. 

Wait… What? Oui, oui, vraiment!

Choose the Right Learning Partner

I have been doing yoga for over 7 years now and my practice has had a very positive impact in my daily life. However, my love story with yoga didn’t start on the right foot. I actually hated my first few yoga classes back in the day because of… the teacher! She kept highlighting how bad my postures were in front of the whole classroom. I felt stupid, insecure, uneasy and I eventually stopped attending these expensive classes. At the time, I thought that yoga wasn’t for me. Until I gave it another try a year later, with a very kind and positive teacher, and I had a completely different experience. This is exactly the same with French! It is important to take the time to research and find the right fit for your specific needs. A high quality language coach should be carefully selected for its positive, nurturing and encouraging nature, three qualities which will help your speaking skills expand to its full bloom! A great French teacher will accompany you on your learning journey and always encourage you to fly on your own when the right time comes.

Treat Learning French with Respect and Dedication

When it comes to learning and developing a new skill at a proficient level, I truly believe that what will lead you to success isn’t talent, but commitment and renewed enjoyment. If you are not interested in what you learn, you will not continue to commit to it unless you have no other choice. If you don’t keep dedicating time and effort to develop your new skill, whether you enjoy it or not, after a while, you will stop making progress and stagnate. A great way to keep enjoying learning French is to focus on topics which you are already interested in. For example, if you like traveling, why not read as much as you can about beautiful francophone destinations around the world? Also, learning something concrete and useful for your daily life, like these fun colloquial expressions used by the locals, will also help you better integrate yourself in your community.

Don’t Take Your Progress for Granted

The more quality time you will spend in French, the better/stronger/more comfortable your rapport with it will become. Think about it as something you need to nurture on a daily basis, even if it is for only 5 or 10 minutes a day. We all know the feeling of uneasiness and even awkwardness when we are reunited with a loved one after not seeing each other for a while. Et bien, that is why you feel so stressed and rusty when coming back to speaking French after a holiday break! E-courses are a great solution if you are not able to commit to private lessons but would still like to make progress at your own pace. It’s really important to dedicate time and to put in some regular effort to be able to grow your relationship with votre français in the right direction. The idea is to feel more and more connected and en confiance in order to progress to the next level!

Give in and... Finally Fall in Love with French!

There will always be small and big bumps on the road to your French proficiency, but in the end, the journey is what truly matters. And this is exactly why I created Prêt à Parler. My caring team and I really believe that la vie en français est un voyage au quotidien (Life in French is a daily journey.) Whether you need to improve your speaking, writing, comprehension or listening skills for an upcoming exam, a job interview or to simply feel more at ease in your daily life, we offer a personalised solution to help you reach your goals, one day at a time.  Our learning journeys were carefully designed to create an immersive approach which enables your unique learning style to produce the results you need for your life in French.

Would you like to finally experience the pleasure of learning French? 

Enjoy a life-changing journey en français with Prêt à Parler.

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Isabelle's Story...

When Isabelle arrived in Suisse romande six years ago, she didn’t know how long she’d stay. But as she developed her friendships, career, and skiing skills, she discovered that it had captured her hearts. Now with a C Permit and two small children, she’s waiting for the day when she can make the love affair with Switzerland official by applying for citizenship.

As the founder of Prêt à Parler, a language school specialized in teaching French online to busy expats in the Suisse romande area, Isabelle joins us on The Lausanne Guide every now and then to share advice for settling in the local area, improving French language skills, and making the most of life along the Lake of Geneva *ahem* Lac Léman.

Isabelle Nicolas with children


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