5 Tips on Staying Sane During Language Training

Bonjour mes amis!  J’offre encore mes apologies de mon manque récent de postes de blog.

Since my last post, French has continued with its highs and lows.  In mid-July, I had an interim exam which, unfortunately did not go very well. In retrospect I can see now that exam anxiety (which I can normally beat or use to my advantage) got the better of me and my performance suffered.  It seems that after a week of not sleeping well, it’s difficult to speak French – hmmm, who would have thought?

It took me a week or so to pick myself back up after the exam.  I was frustrated, upset, and frankly really embarrassed, but thanks to my very encouraging husband and reassuring professors, things started to take a turn for the better.  I’m not yet an expert in passing language exams (for those tips see this great post), but I do have a few tips on staying sane in long-term language training, so here goes!

  1. Harry Potter to the Rescue – After watching these TedTalks, I realized that language sticks better if you’re having fun. And seriously, no one can work on grammar worksheets for 7 straight months and have it sink it.  Enter Harry – a book for adolescents with a well-known plot – who has boosted my confidence and helped me remember vocab and grammar so much better than text books.

    Harry + Me on the train between Quebec City and Montreal

    Harry + Me on the train between Quebec City and Montreal

  2. Get Out of Town – A week away in Quebec was just what the doctor ordered for a wonderful change in scenery and a boost in comprehension and confidence. More on that later!
  3. Ride the Waves of Couchsurfing – Whilst in Quebec, David and I couchsurfed with three different fabulous hosts who gave us tours, taught us card games, and explained the crazy complicated politics of Quebec – all in French!  Here in DC, we’ve hosted three different groups of French couchsurfers. By simply providing an air mattress for a few nights and a meal or two; we’ve gained native French speaking friends and an at-home immersion experience.
  4. Talk to the Professionals – After David convinced me that it’s actually not healthy or normal to not be able to sleep for a week before an exam, I started meeting with a counselor at work about anxiety management. It was comforting for me to realize that a lot of people have exam difficulties – and even the best students can have a whole new set of learning and performance difficulties.  It’s also good to have more tools for dealing with anxiety in general.
  5. Skip the Water Cooler – I’m trying to take a break from talking about the exam with my colleagues. Although I really like them all, conversations with a bunch of other stressed-out-over-achievers easily spirals into comments like, “I heard that no one has passed the exam in weeks!” For me these conversations aren’t helpful and just fuel my long list of internal worries.

Three more weeks until we say “au revoir” to French and “bonjou” to Creole, here’s to enjoying each day until then.

Speaking French is just so much easier at the Parc National De Jacques Cartier

Speaking French is just so much easier at the Parc National De Jacques Cartier


One response to “5 Tips on Staying Sane During Language Training

  1. You’ve gained so much wisdom through all of this! As well as lots and lots of French. I’m amazed at how far you’ve come – and I’m definitely keeping these tips handy for when I’m a language teacher!

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