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When I was a small girl, I was only aware of three languages, Malay, English, and Javanese (my dad’s relatives are mostly Javanese). At home, we conversed daily in Malay. Only when I was about 10 years old, I found out there are more languages in this world than the three that I had always known. I knew Spanish because I happened to love watching telenovelas on television such as Mis Tres Hermanas, La Usurpadora, and Rosalinda. I apparently learnt that people in Japan speak Japanese through anime and cartoons. I also started to notice people with different races in school, especially Chinese and Indian.
It amazes me how every different part of the world converse in different languages. And it amazes me more when knowing there are people who know more than three languages!
Another language that I knew of was French. Back in Standard 6, I had a best friend who is half Malay and half French. She had the foreign features of fair white skin. She’s also a brunette with clear brown eyes, and a sharp nose. She was amazingly fluent in Bahasa Malaysia, English, and French! I felt giddy whenever I caught her talking to her mom in French. It felt so movie-like.
During the long school holiday, she would fly to France visiting her grandparents for the whole month. She once called me on the phone line from France telling me all of her exciting adventures; hiking in the forest, meeting a new friend named Ryan and how her grandparents celebrated Christmas. She sent me a postcard too! I was none other than proud to be her best friend although between us, we only spoke Malay! I was too young to be fluent in English nor did I know a single French word at that time.
Eventually, we lost contact after entering different high schools. But I would dare say she had a huge impact on my life.
French is a beautiful language that is rich and melodious and often associated as the language of love. French is different from the English language especially when it comes to pronunciation. Learning French is even better if we also understand the culture and history of France. French is the second most learnt language after English and one of the top five languages which are widely spoken in the world.
Firstly, learning France gives you the advantages to study in France! There are a number of France's well-known universities that are worth the try for a fantastic higher education experience. Believe it or not, France also offers government grants for foreign postgraduates, in which a fluent French speaking student could easily be eligible.
Secondly, France is one of the top tourist destinations especially Paris. Since Paris is well known as the city of love, many couples went there for honeymoon and families went there for holidays to see for themselves the famous and iconic Eiffel Tower. The ability to converse fluently in French makes the visit to France so much more enjoyable.
Thirdly, being able to speak fluently in French and English allows us to find a job for a multinational company especially in the fashion industry. France is the home for many famous fashion luxury brands. If you ever want to be a part of them, conversing in French is an advantage. Some of the well-known brands are Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Cartier, Lancome, Givenchy, Christian Louboutin, and Hermes.
Lastly, French is a fun language to learn. Compared to English and Malay, French do not have a direct pronunciation of the alphabet. The phonics of the French alphabet have a more dramatic sound. For example, A is pronounced as “Ah”, B is pronounced as “Bay”, G is pronounced as “Jhay” and W is pronounced as “Doo Bluh Vay”.
As fun as we think French is, it is a complicated language to master. First, the pronunciation is tricky. Not only that the alphabets sound different, but also the irregular spelling makes it more difficult especially for native English speakers. For example, bonjour (hello) is pronounced as “bohn-zhoor”.
Secondly, all nouns in the French language have a gender. Yes, you read that right. They have gender either masculine or feminine. For example, beautiful in French can either be “beau” for masculine or “belle” for a feminine one. Weak command on the nouns will make the sentences used incorrectly. Though, they would still understand what you were trying to say.
Thirdly, catching up on the verse as someone is talking fluently is not easy! Have you tried listening to people speaking French? With the accent and pronunciation, their sentences sounded gibberish and difficult to catch. A lot of practice is required in order to master this.
The first tip is to memorize about 30 words and phrases every day. Make sure to use the words daily and not forget them after a day has passed as you memorized new words. To make daily life easier, label everything in your house with French words and every time you are using them, say the name out loud in French. When you are out and about, bring yourself a flashcard or a simple notebook with French words and their meaning so you can keep on practicing.
Secondly, read and watch French’s products. Buy a book in French and if you are a beginner, you can start with children’s books with illustration. Besides that, try watching a French movie with French’s subtitles.
Lastly, seek help from a tutor who is fluent in French language. If you find it hard to get a tutor, head on to Superprof Malaysia website and you will find around 27 tutors available to teach you. These tutors are professional, and they will help you to converse and write in French until you are top-notch material!
The average price of French lessons is RM80.
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