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Your Year Abroad: Alternative Ways to Learn

Bonjour! I’m Harriet, a year abroad student currently studying at l’Université de Limoges in France.

I’ve been in Limoges for six weeks now and it really has flown by. This week has seen me attend an ice hockey match, have my first experience of a University contrôle (essentially an exam), and my parents are coming to visit me for a few days tonight which I am super excited about.

Since I’ve arrived in France, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how quickly you can pick up the language, not only through studying and going to class, but also in more passive ways such as going shopping, reading a book or even sticking the radio on whilst you’re chilling.

As an introvert even in my own language, methods such as these have proved invaluable for those days when I just want to relax in my own space. Here are the methods that I have found to be really effective so far:

La Radio

I tend to stick on French radio stations when I’m getting ready on a morning or doing some light studying. Even hearing the target language is really useful, and you’ll be subconsciously translating elements of what you’re hearing without even realising. This is super embarrassing to admit, but I also like do this before I go out, as my French doesn’t sound quite so Yorkshire when I’ve already been hearing various French accents all morning.

La Salle de Gym

I also stick on French television on the machines when I’m in the gym- a great way to listen to French whilst multi-tasking.

Les Romans

I’ve taken two literature modules, so I’ve found that reading the set texts for these has really helped me to improve my language skills. I like to look up the definitions of words that I don’t understand and note these down in a dedicated notebook. I wrote an article about the trials and tribulations of reading foreign literature which includes several useful tips on how to get started- you can check it out here.

I’m also super keen to read John Green’s new book ‘Turtles All the Way Down’, and given that it’s YA I’m planning on giving it a go in French.

Les Cours

Classes are obviously invaluable when it comes to learning the target language. I’ve found that it’s really helpful to take classes for French students, such as literature or translation, so as to be fully immersed. It can be really overwhelming at first, but I’ve found that most teachers are understanding when you explain that you are an Erasmus student, and will ensure that you do not fall behind. As well as trying to follow the content of the lectures and classes, I note down any words or phrases that I don’t understand and look these up when I get back to my room afterwards.

 A bientot!





Harriet Cunningham

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