Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | March 17, 2014

An analogy

I’ve been missing an analogy as to how hard it is to learn and say a new phrase. A phrase like ‘c’est pas grave’ for a beginner in French, or a word like ‘rouge’ (made up of the ‘r’ sound and the ‘ou’ sound in French).

Some French people wear pink or black shirts. O.K. – that’s a stereotype, but at the same time, it’s true. For an English person to put on a jet black shirt, a pink one, or get a French-style haircut is really hard. But I’d like to argue that it’s just as hard to learn a new word.

For example, for a French person to use a new expression in the correct context like ‘I haven’t go the foggiest idea’ or say a word where they might not be sure on pronunciation like ‘asked’ is actually really difficult. You have to pass the same mental barrier that a French person living in England would face when eating sausages and bacon for breakfast. You are, I would argue, adopting a new expression like it’s your own – but it’s not your own. It’s another language. It comes from another culture. And this can be one reason why it can be so hard to learn a new phrase. It might sound strange to you. It does sound strange to you. But it’s not strange. So one way to counter this is to everything you can to make it not sound strange. Like listening. A lot. Or going to the country. Or maybe you don’t want to do it. Like the bacon and eggs. Well, if you don’t want to do it, I can’t force you. 

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