Language learning is a lifelong passion for some people; they may work at a language learning company, study for degrees in linguistics, or read grammar books in their free time.
But what about average people, who have a full-time job, 9-5?
The question is” Can an average person, with a full-time job and commitments, learn the French language in a week ?”
Let’s find out.
3 Average Guys Attempt to Learn French in a Week
Luckily, 3 guys wondered the same question and decided to act on it. Ed had an idea he wanted to test and got his colleagues, Alberto from Spain and Stefano from Italy, interested in the challenge.
They called their project “3 Average Guys Attempt to Learn French in 7 days”.
Stefano, Ed, and Alberto are just average guys with 9-5 jobs, who wanted to speak French fluently over dinner within a week.
Overall, they had a couple of hours every day during the working week, and a whole weekend to learn French and practice. Since they did not have the luxury of time, they practiced French whenever they could. During their commute, during lunch breaks, while riding a bike, etc.
In one week’s time, they planned to learn as much French as possible. This would require fitting the studies around their day jobs, taking advantage of lunch opportunities with French colleagues, and corresponding with French speakers. Over the weekend, each student took two days of intensive French lessons with a personal teacher.
The goal was that they attain the conversation level before the official dinner with native French speakers.
They all decided that the best would be to have a theory – all the basic grammar and vocabulary by the weekend, so they could practice the oral conversation during the weekend.
Did they achieve the plan? It stays to find out.
According to these guys, planning is paramount. Stefano and Ed dedicated Monday to planning the week. Both agree it’s tempting to jump into learning without a plan, but they say when you follow a schedule, your learning process becomes more logical.
Stefano decided to familiarize himself with the music of the language and started with some French songs. Apart from that, he also selected the classes he would like to attend.
Ed decided to change his usual morning routine, and wake up half an hour earlier to get through the French course.
Alberto, on the other hand, has a dog, so he had to figure out a way to incorporate French learning into his morning routine. While sitting on the bench for 20 minutes, he completed a couple of French lessons. His focus stays on grammar and building sentences.
The first thing he wanted to do was cover basic language topics, such as Greetings, basic questions, etc.
Stefano decided to listen to the French radio while heading to work on a bike. He learned the numbers and by the time he got to his office, he learned counting from 1-100.
Additionally, he sits close to a French colleague, so he used the opportunity to chat and learn some colloquial expressions.
Ed, on the second day, went through the verb (to be) and then moved to the French modal verbs. His idea was that by learning modal verbs (pouvoir, devoir, vouloir) in the present tense, he would be able to create a variety of different phrases.
Soon after learning the verbs, he began having conversations with himself.
Alberto admitted he was struggling. He realized it was more stressful than he expected because he had so little time to learn French.
After 3 days of learning, he felt frustrated because he wasn’t able to open his mouth, let alone a book. He felt not being able to mentally disconnect from work to fully devote himself to studies.
Ed was feeling confident. He had already encountered his French teacher and had a friendly short conversation. The chat went swimmingly, and his learning of modal verbs proved to be a good tactic.
Because of it, he was able to create a variety of different sentences. He could even express himself as far as this, J’étais très satisfait de mon français.
Thursday, they spent a party with French natives and realized they couldn’t lead a fluent conversation in French for more than 5 minutes.
Alberto was facing a less stressful week at work, so he had more time to learn French. He focused more on the food-related vocabulary, and all essential vocabulary related to dinner.
Ed had another conversation in French with a native French speaker.
Stefano’s weekend went in revision and conversation class with the French teacher. The class relied much on the flashcards and talking.
Alberto also had a conversation class with his French teacher. The topic was related to cooking vocabulary in the past, present, and future. They wanted to prepare as well as possible for their next dinner together.
On the last day of the challenge, over dinner, each learning style showcased different language strengths. While Ed was good at giving opinions and giving descriptions, Stefano was handling the food-related vocabulary very well, and Alberto used colloquial expressions with great precision.
After a week, they all agreed that trying to wedge a sentence in with three native speakers at the table was much more difficult than when you had to chat one-on-one in class.
Each of them listened attentively, and they all agreed to understand most of what was said. The conversation was based mostly on exchanging platitudes and compliments but was short of debating.
When to Learn French if You don’t Have Time?
Based on Stefano’s, Ed’s, and Alberto’s experience, we created a list of all possible situations where you could perhaps squeeze some time to learn French if you have a full-time job.
Here is what they suggested doing :
- learn French while walking your dog
- wake up 30 minutes earlier to learn French
- listen to a French podcast while commuting
- accompany your gym practice with French audio lessons
- set up your phone and email in the French language
- learn French while grocery shopping
Are you up for a Challenge?
We agree that learning French in a week won’t make you a fluent speaker. The important thing to realize is that even if you have a full-time job and many other commitments, learning French is not impossible. With a reasonable goal and a routine that is consistent, one can easily become fluent.
Still, the question remains. Do you feel up to the challenge of learning French with a full-time job?