my language journey | invisible progress

21 March 2018

Learning is a gradual thing. The progress is invisible. You almost don't even realize it's happening as you stare at the incomprehensible textbooks, willing your mind to soak in all the information at once. It's not until later, looking back on how you've improved, how much you understand now, that you finally get a faint glimpse of the ghost of that progress.

It's hard for me to determine what my level is in language learning. In my own mind I still consider myself to be a beginner. I get incredibly nervous as I attempt to talk to people in French. I stumble over vocabulary and grammar like a two year old. I make stupid mistakes on exams. Sometimes I feel like I only show up to class and get through the homework lazily without retaining anything. And it's frustrating.
But then I can suddenly read a complete paragraph in a book without the assistance of a dictionary, or I can come up with the right expression without even thinking about it. I begin to wonder if maybe I'm doing better than I think.

I'm determined to stick with it though! Sometimes I try to reevaluate my life, but I know that no matter how I feel, no matter what may change in my life, French and language is important to me. I wrote down several goals I want to remain committed to, and becoming as fluent as I can in French was near the top.

I'm figuring it out, but it's going slowly. I want to do more. I want to push myself harder and get out of my comfort zone, especially as summer approaches and I won't have my classes to hold me accountable. I don't want to just associate my language learning with a classroom and endless exams. I want to cultivate my love for French again, and to come back rejuvenated, ready to take on the advance classes my Junior year will bring.

The progress may be invisible right now, but I'm ready to take the steps to be open about my learning experience and make it evident and clear to others and to myself.
Plus tard ce sera trop tard. Notre vie c'est maintenant. -- Jacques Prévert


  1. Hi Hannah,

    I applaud you for sticking with French even when it feels slow and frustrating. It's such a pretty language to listen to. I was in a coffee shop once, and there were two women there speaking French. I don't know if they were from France or Quebec, Canada or somewhere else, but they sounded fluent. It was magical to listen to and to imagine talking like that.

    If you're interested in practicing French with someone in the summer, there is a language-learning group called Tandem. They have a website and a smartphone app. You create an account, specify which language you're learning, and then the people who run Tandem pair you up with a native speaker. You share your phone number with that speaker and they become your personal tutor. You text and make phone calls and video calls and get to practice your new language with them. And the native speakers have to apply to Tandem and be accepted, so it's not just some random person deciding they want to be a language teacher. I haven’t tried it myself (I’m learning Latin, and there aren’t any native Latin speakers alive anymore XD ) but I’ve heard good things about it!

    Here's the website URL.

    Thanks for sharing about your language learning! I always love hearing about it.

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Danielle. I'll definitely look into the website you mentioned when I'm desperate for practice in the summer! Also good luck with all your Latin studies!

  2. I feel the same way with Spanish. It's also so painful to see yourself moving so slowly when people on YouTube are speaking your target language at a much higher level at a faster pace (fluent in spanish in 5 months. Like whaat?). I know I shouldn't compare myself to them, but languages are what I'm supposed to be better at! Since I suck at maths and stuff.

    However, Spanish is a really important language and I know I've got to stick with it.

    1. It's so hard sometimes! There are so many people who just naturally pick up languages, and it's hard to not compare yourself with them. But yes! We just gotta press forward, especially since languages are so important to us!
      Thanks for commenting, Grace!