Beyond Seduction: 3 Cool Benefits of Learning French
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ?
If you’ve tried that famed French phrase before, you’ve likely been slapped!
Christina Aguilera, soul sister, steered you wrong on this one.
But it’s no coincidence that one of the most famous French phrases — even, and maybe especially, amongst non-French speakers — has to do with seduction. After all, one of the most common reasons people consider learning French is because it’s the language of romance.
However, that’s far from the only reason! If you’ve stuck with your French language learning, you’ve obviously noticed that there are far better reasons to learn French than simply romance.
If you’re looking for new and exciting reasons to rekindle your love of learning French — or if you’re just looking for more motivation to keep on hitting the books — here are a few exciting benefits of learning French.
Beyond Seduction: 3 Cool Benefits of Learning the French Language
1. Learn French for Travel or Relocation
One of the best and most popular reasons to learn French is for travel or relocation—after all, who hasn’t dreamed of visiting the Loire Valley or spending a year living and working in Paris?
France is not the only country where French is spoken as a first language, which means it’s not the only country that your new French skills can bring you to. France is an official language in 29 countries. Some of the most well known are in Europe: France, but also Switzerland, Luxembourg, the principality of Monaco, and Belgium. That’s quite a few places to visit!
A few things to bear in mind when speaking French in Europe: French isn’t necessarily the first language spoken in all regions of Switzerland or Belgium, so you’ll often be better able to communicate with locals in English.
Don’t take this as an offense to your French language level.
People living in the German or Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland don’t speak great French but speak fantastic English! As far as Belgium goes, it’s important to stick to English if you’re visiting the Flemish part of the country to avoid some ugly looks. Language is a very tense topic in Belgium, where the Flemish speakers in Flanders have long fought for their right to have Flemish as an official language. So, keep all that in mind as you travel.
If you’re in Wallonia, French is game. If you’re in Flanders, stick to English. In Brussels, the capital, both French and Flemish are spoken, so you can practice your French to your heart’s content!
Europe is not the only continent that you can visit with your newly developed French skills. In North America, you can try speaking French in both Canada and Louisiana, though don’t be surprised if you have a hard time making yourself understood!
The French immigrants who came to North America first arrived in the 17th century, and the dialects of French spoken in North America have developed independently from standard French for three centuries. As a result, accents as well as vocabulary and even some elements of grammar differ from the French you’ll hear in Europe.
French is also spoken in quite a few of France and Belgium’s former African colonies, including Congo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Benin. Your French can bring you to these countries, although it’s important to do research on current events in these areas for reasons of security. In some cities and at some times, speakers of European French may be poorly received by locals, depending greatly on the political climate.
2. Speak French to Make Yourself a Better English Speaker
Yes, you read that right! Speaking French can actually help you perfect your English.
A few ways. First off, some studies have shown that learning a second language makes speakers more linguistically aware and therefore more intuitive of the grammar rules of languages, including their own.
But there’s an even more important reason why speaking French specifically might make you a better English speaker: there are strong links between the two languages. In order to understand the reasoning behind this link, we’re going to need a little history lesson.
In 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, conquered England (appropriate, given the moniker). As a result, French—or rather, an Anglo-Norman language similar to the Oïl dialect spoken in Normandy at the time—was spoken in England, particularly amongst the well-to-do, through the 15th century.
Examples of the linguistic influence and overlap is still evidenced today when comparing modern English and modern French. Words pertaining to the law (legislation/legislation, judge/juge, court/cour) are very similar. The same is true of words pertaining to class (aristocracy/aristocratie, bureaucracy/bureaucratie) and cooking (cuisine/cuisine, sauce/sauce).
These influences didn’t stop with the Normans. For centuries, French and English have continued to have an effect on one another.
Aside from a historical linguistics lesson, all of this does have a point. By learning French, you’ll get hints for spelling English words that might not be easy to deduce from the English pronunciation, like hors d’oeuvre. You will also better understand the roots for many terms and phrases used in English, like adieu and croissant.
Beyond that, you’ll have a much better excuse for dropping French-isms into your English, like sans and chic. Altogether, these new influences on your English could very well make for a richer vocabulary and more precise grammar usage.
3. Improve Your Brain’s Health and Power by Learning French
Learning French is like learning any foreign language.
It brings you distinct benefits in regards to memory and cognitive skills. Scientific studies continuously back up such claims.
Some studies have proven, for example, that learning a foreign language and using it when attempting difficult problem solving can create more rational logic. Logic in a foreign language theoretically allows for less emotional bias and therefore a clearer, more logical and analytical response to a problem.
On the flip side of this coin, some studies show that learning a foreign language allows for increased creative thinking as well, so learners of foreign languages like French improve both their rational and creative thinking.
Other studies show that brain health is improved when a foreign language is learned, particularly with regards to diseases that come with aging like Alzheimers and dementia.
Learning and speaking a foreign language like French can be the ideal way to boost brain health and stave off these diseases later in life.
The better your French gets, the more likely you will be able to multitask, according to some studies. Bilinguals have a more finely tuned ear and can pay better attention to what’s being said, even in a noisy environment. So, keep up those efforts to become fluent in French!
If your French learning has started to stall, these reasons should help motivate you to continue working on your French. The closer you get to French fluency, the more you’ll be able to take advantage of all of these fantastic benefits of learning French.