Case Study: Louis Bazalgette, France – 2024

First and foremost, I would like to thank the John Speak partnership for supporting me on my journey to Paris.

IMG_7768Every interaction I had with your members was supportive and nurturing and made me feel confident about the life I was pursuing abroad.

Living in Paris was wonderful. The total immersion into the language that John Speak promotes is undoubtedly the best way to learn – it challenges you as a learner and forces you to uncover parts of your personality you perhaps would never be aware of otherwise.

Full language immersion really takes you out of your comfort zone.

My life in Paris was enhanced by my flatmates. Not only did I improve my French with them, but they also acted asIMG_7814 a window into Parisian, and French life.

On weekends we often went swimming together. I sampled many different Parisian pools, some 25m and some 50m. My favourite was the Piscine Roger Le Gall, 50m with a removable roof.

Another key factor in my settling in was the mobility I achieved with my bicycle. I rented one from Swapfiets, where you pay a monthly fee for a bike. I cannot emphasise enough how much having a bike aided my familiarisation with the city. Paris is incredibly cyclable – there are bike lanes throughout large parts of the city. The North Bank of the Seine was converted from a busy road into a pedestrian and bike lane, too, which makes a wonderful journey.

IMG_7973As for my French, I was able to improve it greatly. Apart from speaking in French as much as possible, I switched my reading into French too. Bookshops and libraries are special to me. I became somewhat obsessed with the Édouard Louis and, after having read his first book a few years ago, I’ve now read his entire bibliography (apart from the book he published in April this year, though it’s next on my list). His style is very accessible for a non-native speaker since it is so fluid and more similar to spoken than written French – he doesn’t waste time with the simple past and such haughty nonsense. I endeavoured to read as many newspapers and magazines as possible, too. I found myself frequently trying to read Le Monde diplomatique, though admittedly the finer details did seem to gracefully swanning over, instead of installing themselves into, my head.

IMG_8058So I had reading, listening (apart from listening to everything my flatmates had to offer – ranging from engaging, political debates to garbled, repetitive commentary on the mediocre performance levels of various Ligue 1 football teams, I tried to listen to French radio and podcasts as often as possible), and speaking covered. The final pillar of language learning was writing. Nowadays, the opportunities to write with a pen and paper are almost inexistent. I believe this is, however, a valuable way to learn. So I diligently wrote a diary in French every day as part of my morning routine. My incessant scribblings are very, very far from scratching the surface of interesting for any prospective reader and are undoubtedly coloured by persistent errors, but the practice of getting words onto paper every single day was wonderful. It boosted my confidence and got my brain going.

I adored France, and Paris, and I’m so grateful to John Speak for helping make it happen. My French has improved massively over the past half-year and I intend to take a C1 exam in the near future to cement that learning.

Posted in Case Study, Monthly Reports