There’s really nothing better than the ability to speak a foreign language. I don’t know about you, but when a friend starts trilling out in a second language, showing off their language skills, there’s nothing that I’d like to be able to do more.
But we in the UK are particularly – dare we say notoriously – stubborn in our reluctance to speak other languages. We expect – perhaps rudely, but definitely understandably – that most people around the world speak a bit of English. And, consequently, that great motivator of effort, necessity, is sort of removed: we end up not really bothering with different languages because we don’t really need to.
But really, this is a great big unfortunate lie, and, frankly, it makes us look a little bad in the eyes of the world. We go on holiday to Italy, say, and the way we communicate with locals is to say things increasingly loudly and repeatedly or else to point dumbly. Sure, it works, more often than not, but we end blushing and feeling like a bit daft.
It needs, therefore, to be pressed upon us that learning languages is a good thing – a brilliant thing, like really one of the best things. And so, we beg you, let’s get going! And, sure, aim for fluency, but the benefits of learning a language don’t come just from that. The process of learning is an incredibly important one too.
So, why not learn French? We’re guessing, if you’re here, that you are based in Belfast. But, if you are not, we have articles on French language classes in London and on French courses in Edinburgh too.
You can’t fully appreciate France if you don’t know French.
The benefits of learning a new language is not just about being able to use foreign words – although this has some value in itself. Learning foreign languages helps the brain and the community in a whole host of ways.
Let’s start with the brain. There have been a whole load of studies recently that link the process of learning a different language – and the resulting bilingualism – to a decrease in the chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. Honestly, this seems like quite a good reason to join a language school in itself. But beyond that, there is a lot of research that shows that language lessons only go to make a language student cleverer per se. It simply helps your cognition.
Beyond this, learning a language allows you to unlock a different culture. In many ways, language and culture are so deeply entwined that the process of language studies brings you a different perspective on life. It promotes harmony among diversity and shows that you have made an effort to understand the world around you.
And, simply, being able to speak another language lets you communicate with more people. You have a greater pool of potential friends, business clients, and acquaintances. You don’t even need to be fluent for this to be true.
In terms of French specifically, the same points stand alongside a whole host of others.
Perhaps the most important is the influence that French culture has had upon that of Britain. From food to French literature to fashion, to politics and trade. There isn’t really an aspect of British life that hasn’t been touched in some way by our neighbours. And that includes the English language, which is the way it is because of the historical influence of France.
However, today, French remains an important world language spoken by hundreds of millions of people on all continents of the world. It is an international language of trade and politics, and it is a culture that still commands many aspects of cultural life around the globe. It’s hugely important – and it remains one of the most popular languages to learn.
Appreciate Paris more with your knowledge of French.
But how do you go about starting to learn a new language? What do you need to know before you set out on your language course? When you walk into French class and one of the French teachers says ‘bonjour!’, what on earth are you expected to say in response?
People have a lot of worries about starting on a language program. And whilst this is understandable, it needn’t be paralysing.
Whether you are starting a French language course to brush up on your grammatical knowledge of tenses etc, or whether you are at completely the beginner level just hoping to learn basic French, the French teacher will know how to deal with you. You’ll probably take a placement test to understand your level and be placed in a class accordingly.
Remember, if you are learning, there is no reason to feel ashamed about not knowing everything!
Belfast is an incredibly diverse city with over ninety languages spoken in schools across the area. It’s an incredibly, and increasingly, international city, and this makes for the perfect conditions for learning a different language.
There is a sizeable French community in Northern Ireland too. So, if you are looking for a bit of French culture alongside your linguistic learning, you’re in a for a bit of a treat. You’re lucky to be in Belfast!
Let’s take a look at some of the options for learning French in your city.
If you are a school kid who is thinking about the next stage in your educational journey, you may want to consider studying French – or another modern language – at university. And there is no better university in Belfast that Queen’s.
A language degree will be an opportunity to develop a really rigorous knowledge of your subject – delving into the breadth of French linguistics, and studying French literature, film, history and culture at the same time. It’s a wonderfully broad course to do, setting you up for a career in education, travel, translation, or international politics.
And there’s the great bonus denied to many other students. You can study abroad for a year as part of your course. This immersion experience is one of the best things about any language course at university – and it may well be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.
For those a little less interested in dedicating their life to the subject, there are plenty of options for casual learning across the city too. The French lessons offered by Crescent Arts are one such option – an option among many different educational cultural and arts offerings.
Based on the University Road, Crescent Arts offers French classes for people of all levels. And whilst they offer casual conversation classes, they also provide more formal educational sessions too. It depends which one appeals to you the most!
Regardless, lessons usually take place in the evening, and can be booked in blocks of many weeks.
Learning French is an excellent experience.
Conversation classes are an increasingly popular way of learning a different language. Rather than staring up at the whiteboard, or learning verb tables, this style of class is all about communication.
Whatever your level, you are invited to speak exclusively in French. And yes, whilst this might seem scary, it’s an absolutely wonderful way to force yourself to learn the language.
Give it a go with the Belfast Frenchie Club.
Whilst language classes can provide a great opportunity for socialising and fun – and whilst there are definitely benefits of learning with peers – many people can struggle in group classes. There can be little opportunity to speak, and people find that the class is rarely moving at just the right pace for them: they can be overwhelmed if the class moves too quickly, or bored if it is too slow.
And it is these sorts of reservations which are making more and more people choose private tuition. A private tutor can provide bespoke, personalised teaching which matches the speed of the student’s needs, whilst focusing on the student’s particular strengths, weaknesses, and interests. They are also a lot more flexible in terms of scheduling too.
At Superprof, we host tutors in over a thousand subjects (we work with over seven million tutors across the world!). And our wonderfully passionate and committed tutors can help you to develop your knowledge in precisely the way that works for you.
In Belfast, there are over thirty private tutors available to teach you French. The average price is £19 an hour – however, if you still have doubts, the first lesson is free!