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Second language acquisition and child development : a cross-over (B to C)

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Have you read the first part of this article? It discusses the journey of learning French from A to B.

From B to B + : your formative years!

Remember your first years after high-school ? Wether you went to University, took a year off to travel the world or started working right away, you experienced this disappointing feeling that, while you thought education was actually just started ?

Well…get ready for French!

Hard truth: reaching B level doesn't make you good at French. It makes you good-enough-to-interact daily in simple and various settings....just like the fresh high-school graduate you were once was not really ready for more than simple but various settings of conversations.

It's time to refine your expression and build a solid frame to understand the world around you. You are now learning how to:
- think in systems (yes, le système du passé, les hypothèses...)
- understand that the world is a complex entwinement of different realities: the one we all agree on, the one that you are in, and another one that doesn't exist but wish it would (you are learning about le subjonctif and le conditionnel),
- make sentences with multiple verbs and various subjects,
- choose your words more precisely: not everything is nice, necessary or upsetting anymore.

Just like your first papers at University, or your first cover letters for a job, you are trying to fit into rigid structures that feel quite unauthentic and forced: you are trying to reflect the sum of what you have learned.
You think it's what is expected of you.

Nonetheless, you are becoming more confident and are now able to fully understand and partake into French conversations...but you are not really able to inspire others, moderate a difficult conversation or to convince people with an impactful delivery of your point.
If someone contradicts or cuts you off, it is difficult for you to come back to your point. You cannot control your emotions, and it keeps impeding on your capacity to communicate. Early 20s, anyone ?

Level C : the ultimate level of mastery

Finally, after some years in your first jobs, you are building confidence and gaining in agency.
You are still afraid to make mistakes, but you have tools to cope with the fear, as well as ways to correct yourself.

Because you understood the key is to learn by doing, you are really starting to work in French: you read emails, you start meetings in French, you take calls in French. You need less and less to prepare them in advance.

Because speaking French is not as stressful as before, you now have room to address the other feelings usually coming up in regular conversations: frustrations, sadness, anger, fear...
You are learning how to express emotions and receive other's.

You are not only understanding the world around you, but a fully potent actor in your world. In French, you are able to lead discussion, you are not afraid of tests and exams because you know you have the power in the discussion.
You are not sitting in the receiving end of the discussion anymore.

It's becoming easier to form habits: you don't need to think that hard anymore about choosing your pronoms compléments, or about les hypothèses...
It has become a second nature. Your second language.

Congratulations !! You made it !
What a journey !

So how long will it take you to get to a level of Mastery ? Well, there is no definite answer.
But you can read what we have to say about it: How long will it take to learn French (a series of three articles)

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