The many benefits of learning French / Part 3
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian philosopher).
In our Part 3 of the mini-series “The many benefits of learning French”I want to tell you about Laura, for whom learning French did indeed expand her world beyond what she thought possible before.
I met Laura when our daughters were at school, in the same class, as we would often stand and wait outside the classroom at the end of the day and chat. Laura had never really travelled much, nor had she -and you could tell it was bothering her- been in a position to complete her education when young. Instead, she had been very busy and successful at raising five lovely daughters.
As we got to know each other and became friends, Laura was intrigued about my job as a French tutor, and she wanted to know more about France ; in fact one summer she took the family to Burgundy ; just for a little trip. I think this was a relatively bold move, when you consider none of the travellers had any French, but the courage paid off.
At the end of five days of travelling on and around the Route des Vins (the Wine Route), sampling a few Burgundy wines of course, tasting the other local specialties of pain d’épices (ginger bread) and crème de cassis (blackcurrent alcoholic beverage) ; generally enjoying the beautiful architecture and Burgundian polychrome roofs of Dijon and Beaune, as well as visiting the enormous shopping centre, she came back with a burning desire to learn French! She said she was very keen to go back to France the following summer and, this time, she was determined she would speak (and understand) more in restaurants, cafés and shops.
So, the plan was simple and I remember our first lesson well, because it came with lots of warnings! Laura was worried she might not be a good enough student, because it was a fairly new experience with languages and her school years were very far behind ; she was nervous and not at all confident. However, as I had expected she was amazing, working hard in the class and very diligent and creative with her homework. She progressed very quickly.
Surely enough, the following year Laura went back to France and thoroughly enjoyed her new skills, but that is not all that happened that year… Going back to studying had proven to be a real pleasure ; in fact it had acted like the rush of endorphine you may get during exercise. She had enjoyed being more in control on her second holiday in France, but there was something that made her feel different, that made her feel good about herself : learning a new skill had been easy for her, she now felt a lot more confident in her abilities and these could be applied to other learning. Why not ?
So what did Laura do next, apart from helping her two youngest daughters at home with their French homework ? She signed on to the local college on a “back to learning course” and within two years obtained qualifications in English and History. Why stop there? She knew she could achieve more ; she had already pushed her limits and, besides, she had always secretly wanted to study law…
Well, today Laura is a partner in a very successful law firm. As we are still friends I can safely reveal she can now afford all the trips to France and beyond that she fancies! As for me, well, I am just super happy that our fun French lessons started it all!
Owner and French tutor at Cassis French Tuition
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