It’s really a wonderful skill to be able to speak a second language. Yet, it’s hardly a privilege. Rather, only forty percent of the world’s population is monolingual (meaning, they only know one language, of which they are a native speaker). Meanwhile, forty-three percent of the world are bilingual, and thirteen percent are trilingual. Then there are even those who speak four or more languages.
This means that, actually, those of who can’t speak a foreign language are actually in the minority. And, frankly, this is a real shame – as speaking a different language, and learning a new language, is a really enriching experience that can have a huge impact on our lives.
Yet, in the UK, we don’t really seem to care so much about language skills – happy as we are with our level of proficiency in our own language and culture. We tend to wear this as a perverse badge of honour, like a national joke – and we tend to justify our reluctance to engage in language studies by the fact that many people around the world speak our language.
But really it is a little disappointing that the UK has the lowest number of people speaking a second language in the whole of Europe. And so, we get a reputation across the continent and the world for being a little disrespectful or lazy when we are living or travelling abroad.
Yet, there is a simple, and quite readily available, path to avoiding this. And that, believe it or not, is through language classes. Because, whilst no one is asking you to be fluent, being able to say a little more than ‘bonjour’ or ‘buenos dias’ is helpful to get you through the world.
And that’s what we’re here to help with.
Glasgow is a great place to take French lessons.
Let’s start from the basics. Why bother to learn a different language?
We’ve covered some of these above. However, recent research has done wonders in showing us some of the less known advantages of language learning.
There’s the fact that knowledge of a different language reduces your chances of developing Alzheimer’s – which, alone, should be a sufficient reason to get yourself into a language school. Then there is the discovery that bilingual people are simply smarter – with greater general cognitive activity than that of monoglots.
But knowing a different language also helps to open your mind to the world and to broaden your perspective on cultural difference. All languages provide a little glimpse into different cultures, different ways of thinking, and different ways of seeing the world. And, in a time of increasing global diversity and connection, this fact ensures a greater social cohesion, tolerance, and conviviality.
No-one really is asking you to be fluent to feel these benefits. Even learning basic French – the conversational communicative fundamentals of any language in fact – can have you see the benefits.
Whilst learning any language has its cognitive benefits, the practical benefits of learning French are among the most considerable among any languages.
That’s simply because many many people speak this language (there are over two hundred million native speakers of French across the world) and it is spoken in so many places. Thirty countries have French as one of their official languages, and it is spoken just about on every continent on the planet. Fluency in French, therefore, opens up a whole world of people for you to communicate with.
But it’s also an important language to know to shed light on our own culture and history. Britain – and Scotland particularly – has had very strong relations with France for centuries and centuries, and the politics, religion, language, and culture of France has been hugely influential for us on this little island.
There are so many words that we borrow from French culture and language, it’s hard to believe. And learning French gives you a great stepping stone to learning other romance languages as well – if you so desire.
The French are rightly known for their wonderful lifestyle.
There can be a lot of concern in new language students that the courses to which they could sign up won’t be the ideal one for them, or that they might be doing something wrong.
This uncertainty often comes from what is essentially an impatience to gain all grammatical knowledge – all aspects of the tenses, say – and all French vocabulary immediately. This comes from the endless array of different technologies, products, and courses offering people the ability to be completely proficient in French – to be able to speak like a native French speaker – in six weeks, two months, or whatever.
The reality is that learning a language is a much more long-winded process than this. You can find yourself in beginner level, or intermediate French, for years potentially – and this can be frustrating to some.
So, just make sure that you enjoy the process as much as you aim for the goal. And don’t worry about whether you think you know too little or whatever. Any good French teacher at the language class will be able to perform a placement test and discern what level you would be best at.
And finally, remember that learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom. The more you practice in your own time, the better your knowledge will be, the faster you will improve, and the more you’ll get out of your lessons.
Glasgow is an immensely diverse city with an exciting array of languages spoken, cultural activities, and all the rest that makes an international city great. There are a hundred languages spoken in the city, and this diversity is corroborated by the fact that one in eight of Glaswegian schoolchildren don’t speak English as a first language.
There are plenty of French people living in Glasgow, and the historical Auld Alliance between the two countries has meant that current relations are good too. You’ll find so many great opportunities to learn French and to be exposed to French culture in Glasgow.
Let’s take a look at some of the best options for learning French in the city.
If you are after a French class run by native speakers, the Alliance Francaise is the best place to start looking. This is the official language centre of the French government, and these pop up all over the world.
In Glasgow, the Alliance Francaise is based in Kelvingrove, and it offers conversational French and formal learning in groups, one-to-one, and as an online course. All ages are welcome, and the centre also offers help with students studying French at university.
It’s a great institution reliably endorsed by the French state.
If you don’t like the idea of a language class, there is always the option of private tuition.
With a one-to-one tutor you won’t have the fuss of worrying if about whether the class is moving too fast or too slow, about whether you are speaking enough or too much, and whether everyone is laughing at your poor pronunciation!
Rather, with a private tutor, you will receive supportive and bespoke tuition that is perfectly suited to your own needs, pace, and preferences. And they also are often nice enough to come to your house too!
At Superprof, we connect students with able, passionate, and knowledgeable tutors. In Glasgow, there are over one hundred French tutors available to teach you French, at an average rate of £17 an hour.
Join a French course in Glasgow
Glasgow has a number of excellent universities, from the University of Glasgow to the University of Strathclyde. The majority of them offer French at degree level, as part of the BA in modern languages.
A degree in French is an excellent way to become an advanced French speaker. You’ll be studying French linguistics and developing your writing skills by working on essays on French literature, history, cinema, and culture (you may well have to write these in French!).
It’s a great move if you are planning a career in diplomacy, translation, or teaching. And, as you may well know, one of the perks of a language course is that you get to study abroad for a year and to enjoy the experience of cultural immersion. This will be one of the highlights of your degree by far!