Are you fearful about learning French? Put your fears aside!
Some of our new students at Learn French at Home tell us that they are quite intimidated in learning the language of Molière, Voltaire and Rousseau, that they consider to be a very classy and academic language. Find below some explanations on how to learn the French language by putting your fears aside…
Do you know that French is a rather new language?
In reality, French is a rather new language ! It is mainly the result of the chaos that preceded and followed the famous French Revolution, which, beginning in 1789, brought to Paris freedom fighters from all the regions of the country— each of them having its own dialect, called patois.
That severely complicated communication between them. Before the Revolution, 75% of French citizens did not speak French!
“In a free country, the language must be the same for all”
It was the period of the Revolution that really marked the transition from a patchwork of dispersed dialects to a more unified and national language. While they were fighting the monarchy, the révolutionnaires even led, as an integral part of the revolutionary effort, a parallel war against dialects. This effort was spearheaded by Bertrand Barère (1755–1841), a member of the Comité de Salut public (Committee of Public Safety), who was assigned to lead the fight for a national language.
In a report on regional dialects that he presented in 1794, he declared:”The monarchy had reasons for clinging to the Tower of Babel. In a democracy, keeping citizens ignorant of the national language, unable to control power, is a betrayal of the mother land. In a free country, the language must be the same for one and all… Barbaric dialects and coarse idiom serve only fanatics and counter-revolutionaries!”
The French language has not stopped evolving
Since then, the French language has not stopped evolving, continuing to be influenced by the various dialects spoken by its very multicultural population, and more and more by many foreign languages. According to the French expert Laurent Chambon, a specialist in minorities, France, compared to other European countries, is by far the most multicultural of all.
French is not a daunting mountain to climb!
Learning French is definitely not like climbing as daunting and impressive mountain such as Le Mont Blanc, but more like strolling through in series of small, charming, green and lovely hills of the French countryside such as in the Beaujolais region, that are constantly evolving over the years and the seasons.
And you will find it fascinating, sometimes very funny, to discover how your own language has inspired the French language! Ask your French teacher to go through the many similar words and expressions with you, and you’ll see that he/she will often be surprised and will learn a lot, too, from such an interesting comparison!