Self

Foreign languages: know how to let go

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But if you are good! Only, victim of misconceptions and psychological blocks, you dare not run ... Courage! Several methods exist to thwart your complexes.

Stéphanie Torre

Compared to our often multilingual neighbors, we, Frenchies, have real difficulties with foreign languages. Ask a lot of mimicry a glass of lemonade on the terrace of a Venetian trattoria, that we know how to do! But to inform a Texan cowboy lost in the Paris metro is another story ... As if leaving the language of Molière was a superhuman effort.

Result: at a time when the notion of "global village" nibbling borders, making the control of a second language almost obligatory, 54% of French people declare to be unable to converse in a language other than their own (Study INSEE published in 1996). Would we be less talented than others? No, but a little more proud ... and probably more stuck. Great lover of his own language, the Frenchman has not forgotten the influence of his culture in the last century.

Pride - pride? - which often leads him to think that it is up to the other to adapt. But "French is also very respectful of other languages, he is often afraid to scratch their syntax," says Henriette Walter, professor of linguistics at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and author of Aventure des mots français seen elsewhere (Robert Laffont, 1997). Perfectionists, we would panic at the idea of ​​not finding the right words to translate our thought. Above all, we would be victims of psychological blockages from old ideas. We are thus sheltering behind excuses that are not really founded. Here are a few.

"I'm not good"

There are many who believe in a "bump of languages", as we talk about a math bump. Do you really need to have special skills to speak a foreign language correctly? The answer is definitely no. As early as the 1920s, linguists tried to develop aptitude tests to prove the existence of such a gift. Since 1970, the great majority of them recognize that no scientific proof could be given.

Better: there is no direct link between the ability to learn a foreign language and our intelligence quotient. What matters is the environment in which we live, our personality and, above all, our motivation. Being extroverted and knowing how to ignore our personal concerns would be our best assets. The family context in which one grew up also plays an important role.Bilingual parents or curious about other cultures are a great help. Otherwise, it's up to you to "immerse yourself" in a foreign land thanks to stays of more or less long duration.

* At the gates of the world (APM): 01. 53. 24. 90. 90.

* Experiment Association: 01. 44. 54. 58. 00.

"At my age, this is too late "

False. There is no age to get started, even if a child learns faster than an adult. Explanations of Bruno Argoud, psychoanalyst: "Until 5 years, the synapses of the brain are open and the child can soak up a new language like a sponge absorbs the water.Beyond this age, impossible to become genuinely bilingual, that is to say, to express oneself simultaneously and indifferently in two languages. " It remains to learn. What can be done at any age, but in a different way. It is between 6 and 11 years old that one is most apt to appropriate the pronunciation and vocabulary of a language. On the other hand, since he has already acquired the mechanisms of his own language, the adult can master syntax and grammar more quickly and can put in place memorization strategies. It retains so easily.

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