There are lots of things you probably should be doing.
Exercising more. Eating less junk. Learning that language faster.
You know who laughs in the face of should?
French people don’t do gyms. They wash croissants down with full-fat cafés au lait and eat baguettes dipped in baked Camembert.
They’re not exactly hustlers either. France has one of the shortest working weeks in Europe. If you worked in France, you’d have the legal right to ignore emails outside of office hours. And you could forget about popping out to the shops to pick up an onion on Sundays. They’re closed.
I grew up in an Anglo-Saxon culture where if you wanted to lose weight, you had to stick to salads (without the dressing) and make friends with the treadmill. And if you wanted success, you had to grind away until you got there.
By my culture’s no-pain-no-gain logic, French people should be flabby good-for-nothings.
But they’re not. The women are amongst the skinniest in Europe. And France boasts one of the highest productivity rates in the world.
This ability to flout all the “shoulds” and still get good results is sometimes known as The French Paradox.
What if we stopped should-ing ourselves?
If you’re anything like me, you probably “should” yourself a lot when it comes to learning a language.
- I should be able to say more than this by now.
- I should be more motivated.
- I should understand that person/newspaper article/TV series/film.
- I should sound more like a native speaker.
And let’s not forget the shouldn’ts:
- I shouldn’t be making that mistake.
- I shouldn’t keep forgetting that word.
- I shouldn’t get so nervous when I speak.
Where do all these “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” leave us?
And often not much closer to our goal.
But the worst thing about constantly should-ing yourself is this: it takes the plaisir out of learning a language.
What if, instead of punishing yourself for not being fluent yet, you just let yourself enjoy the learning process? If, instead of stressing about not remembering fast enough, you went at your own pace and savoured every minute, like a glass of champagne?
You’d probably find yourself wanting to spend more time with the language.
And it figures that you’d get better results. Maybe the French paradox isn’t so paradoxical after all.
How to fall in love with learning a language with Carrie from French is Beautiful
Earlier this week, I caught up with Carrie Anne James from French is Beautiful, who blew me away with her compassionate, yet no BS approach to learning French (or any other language for that matter).
If you have a tendency to put too much pressure on yourself when you learn a language, today’s post can help. We talk about how to put the joy back into language learning and much more, including:
- Why you’ll never be completely ”fluent” (and why that’s a good thing).
- The power of treating a language like a close friend or lover.
- The ways you might be holding yourself back from learning a language + how to stop.
- When asking for strawberry jam in Paris can get you into trouble (and make you go all rouge!)
We spoke in French too! (turn on the subs to get the English translation).
Get a free gift from Carrie!
On May 12th, Carrie will send you a French surprise. Here’s what to do to claim your gift:
- 🇫🇷Post your favorite photo of Paris
- Tag @frenchisbeautiful in the caption
- Use #parisiscalling 🍾
- Sign-up for the @frenchisbeautiful newsletter on the French is Beautiful website ❤
- Follow @frenchisbeautiful on Instagram
Everybody wins – all you have to do is follow the 5 steps and you’ll get access to some of Carrie’s exclusive French materials that will help you communicate more naturally in France.
✨EVERYONE WINS✨ Paris is calling! Bonjour mes amis ! Coming to Paris this summer? Follow the guide below to wake up on May 12 to a digital surprise made for you, by me, avec beaucoup d’amour à Paris : 🇫🇷Post your favorite photo of Paris, tag @frenchisbeautiful in the caption and use #parisiscalling 🍾 Sign-up for the @frenchisbeautiful newsletter on the site in our bio ❤ You must follow @frenchisbeautiful And on May 12th, the way that you experience French and the way that you will experience Paris will change forever … I would wish you ‘bonne chance’, but everyone wins. 😉 Je vous embrasse ! Carrie Anne #speakfrenchspreadlove #eiffeltower #parisisalwaysagoodidea #parisjetaime
Learn more about Carrie from French is Beautiful
As a fluent non-native French speaker who spent years in the classroom learning grammar and later studying French literature at U.C. Berkeley and La Sorbonne, as well as classical piano at L’École Normale de la Musique in Paris before obtaining real-world fluency, Carrie knows precisely which aspects of the French language are perceived to be the most difficult and focuses on those aspects in order to coach Francophiles to speak French naturally.
She doesn’t believe that our dreams are located in an intangible future somewhere, for us to chase after. She believes that we live each day with our dreams inside of us, ready to be lived.
Stay in touch with Carrie
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Carrie’s advice: Which idea resonates with you the most? How can you apply it to your own language learning? Let us know in the comments!