They say that the best way to learn a language is through absolute immersion. It has been scientifically proven that after acquiring some basic prerequisites, the most effective means of becoming fluent is by surrounding oneself with native speakers. When seeking for ways to improve my French, I thought about how I could achieve the immersion experience. Would it mean packing my bags and buying a one-way ticket halfway across the globe to Paris? I wish. But obviously, considering both price and possibility, there was no way that could happen. So I thought and researched, and finally came to a conclusion. If I couldn’t go to France myself, I would just have to bring it to me. And that’s exactly what I did!
Yesterday, I attended my first meeting as a member of the Austin French Language Club. I had a great time practicing and conversing with both native speakers, as well as other language learners like me. We met for a few hours in the evening at the Mozart Coffee Shop, a beautiful cafe overlooking Lake Austin. We began the evening with some basic conversation, and began to get to know each other. The open air cafe seating was buzzing with different languages in the air. As our group, with a large Eiffel tower on the table, chatted away in French, we could hear tables nearby speaking animatedly in Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and Mandarin, to name a few. Our group alone was a hub of diversity. The organizer was Vietnamese but grew up in France, there was a Canadian, a Greek American (who also spoke Arabic), an American who studied in England, and me. We were a collection of extremely different individuals, all united by a common love for the French language.
After grabbing our coffees, or an Italian soda, in my case, we began to discuss the theme of the meeting: Comment Être Heureux, or How to be Happy. We worked on pronunciation, and discussed our experiences with other languages (in French of course)! A few times, when I was in a difficult situation, I found myself resorting to my desperate method of pronouncing Spanish words in a French manner, and most of the time, I wasn’t found out! The time flew by, and towards the end, we played a few rounds of a vocabulary game. By the time the meeting was over, I was surprised and excited to see that I had been authentically conversing in French for two hours! I had a wonderful time yesterday, and I can’t wait for our next meeting! Au revoir!