Why I Learn French?

by  Sam C. Chan

June 2006

Well, I can't give a simple 1-line answer. It's one of those classic serendipity stories.

Original Reason: To learn a few basic phrases, so that I can rely less on subtitle, and better concentrate on the French movies.
(I've seen 80+ French films. Compared to: 140 UK, 11 Italian, 11 German, and 600+ American ones.)

Subsequently: Once I embarked on the initial learning, I had a case of cross-motivation, and escalation of interests. As I gained abilities, I became more ambitious. I then revised my goals and objectives.

  • better able to understand lyrics & movie dialogs
  • fresh adventure and personal challenge
  • relive my early days (long forgotten since) of learning English
  • understand humanity
  • better understand the etymology of English language
  • as a study in linguistics in general, and multilingualism in particular
  • understand Hong Kong culture, pronunciation pattern, as related to French influence
  • gain access to French culture and literature, in particular: Alexis De Tocqueville and François de La Rochefoucauld
  • as an experiment in teaching techniques and theories
  • to see if child-like personality can counter-act relative old age (late start)
  • as an exercise in creation of personalized CBT
  • facilitate my increasingly active involvement in global advocacy

SUMMARY of Purposes/Applications:

Movies, songs, web sites, tourist, newspapers/magazines, radio/tv news, international affairs, software, business and UN.

Some subtle but interesting points...

  • I'm relying on self-compiled, and sometimes self-generated materials. I'm playing the role of curriculum designer and "teacher." This coincides with my recent interest in learning some formal teaching theories and techniques.
  • By chronicling my own progress and path, I serve as a subject for my on-going experiment and research into human behavior, psychology, as related to intellectual activities.
  • The journey affords me a much needed refresher lesson on humility―how completely helpless and vulnerable one is, when facing a completely foreign language. Overnight, a mature, in-control, articulated intellectual; is reduced to a struggling, rudimentary beginner, in survival mode.
  • This has been one of the most humbling and inspirational experience in my adult life. It serves as a catalyze to other enlightenments. A classic case of serendipity.

(This has been a first draft. To be revised shortly.)

February 2007

Q: Why French? Why not Italian or Spanish?
Quite early on, as I ventured out to foreign films (excluding British), I have noticed my natural gravitation toward French. I seem to find it culturally & philosophically more suited to my personality and background.

April 2007

Learning French through French songs:
During a recent trip to NYC, my friend Ernie pointed out that it's not good because liberal "poetic licenses" means unusual, or grammatically incorrect sentenceswhich I agree, for advanced learners like him. I still think it's a good tool for beginners to be exposed to basic phrases. In fact, the fun & motivation factor is invaluable, and out-weighs the short-comings in my opinion.

See also: