21 day challenge: Join the Rootalky language challenge for 2021

Like every end of year, most people prepare a list of resolutions for the new one. New year’s resolutions have been a long standing tradition that different cultures share to find the motivation in achieving their future goals. These resolutions vary from personal to professional. Be it losing weight, finding a job or mastering a skill. It is the primacy effect, that 01/01 on the screen board, that notion that you are on the first page of the first chapter of yet another book. 

This year, Rootalky decided to hop on the resolution train and help its followers with a new year challenge, a 21 day challenge:the 21-day Rootalky language challenge. No matter your level, your schedule or your resources, this challenge is for you!

Are you excited to know what it is?

  1. Every morning for 21 CONSECUTIVE days: Listen to French radio

The task:

Listen to French radio for 5-10 minutes. You have the choice of the channel as long as it is not just music. Pick a channel with a program, any program as long as there are people talking

The exercise:

While you’re listening, look for a sentence that you like: Whether it is the sound of it, the meaning of it, the difficulty of it. Any sentence that captures your attention and record yourself saying it!

  1. Every afternoon for 21 CONSECUTIVE days: Listen to a French song.

The task: 

Listen to a French song. Only 1. While I would recommend old 80’s and 90’s songs for their accurate grammar and slow rhythm, the choice remains yours. 

The exercise:

For this task, I am asking you to simply write down the title of the song you listened to. You can add the name of the singer if you’d like. But let’s focus on the title for now. 

  1. Every night for 21 CONSECUTIVE days: Pick a book.

The task:

Pick a book. Any book. It can be a children’s book, a recipe book, a novel, a personal development book etc. The only important thing is that the language is French. Now take that book every night for 21 consecutive days and read 1 page. 1 page ONLY. Of course you can add more if you think the story is interesting but remember, we’re looking at the long term here. So if you want to read more than 1 page, you can’t skip the next day!

The exercise:

Depending on where you’re reading your book, I want you to choose 3 words, preferably new or maybe even difficult, and note them down somewhere. Don’t just highlight them on the book. I want you to physically write these words, whether on your notepad, your notebook, your phone or even a post-it note that you stick on the cover. 

Then what? 

Before we discuss the results, I want you all to (virtually) promise me one thing. That if you skip one day, you start all over! But we don’t want to do that do we? This is a challenge for the Rootalky family. We’re going to take part together, all of us. Posting daily steps, discussing results, embracing the challenge and seeing the progress.

21 days, that’s over 3 and a half hours of spoken French, 21 new songs to your playlist and 63 new spelled words added to your vocabulary. In just three weeks! So let’s start 2021 improving together, learning together and French-talking together! Just one more thing, keep a daily log so we celebrate the success of each day together and see how far we’ve come at the end of the 21 days.



Juggling Excitement and Uncertainty in Learning a New Language

We always hear the expression balance is key. Whether it is a balance between professional life and personal life. Balance between your healthy diet and your cheat meals. Just like any process in life, learning a new language also has a balance. The balance between excitement and uncertainty. So how do we find that balance? How do we juggle between feeling excited with our new endeavor and having doubts on our abilities to reach our goals?

When you decide to learn a new language, you are excited and determined: If you are old school, you rush to buy that motivating notebook and your favorite pencil. If you are more tech savvy, you download the latest app to take notes, create that inspired folder and get ready to start learning. These preparations come natural to us as we embark on a new chapter. But then soon enough we encounter our first obstacle and that’s where uncertainty kicks in and the challenge to stay as motivated as day one arises. If that’s where you’re at in this moment in time, here are a few tips that could help.

French language exchange
  1. 1. New techniques:

If you feel that what you are doing is not working out for you, change it! There is not one single method for learning a language, there are plenty. So pick one, for each day or maybe each week. Change when you feel tired of one or alternate to feel fresh. Whichever pattern you follow, there’s always another one waiting. As they say: If plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet”. You can check the various techniques available in the other articles but just remember that there will always be more: some french radio in the morning, a french playlist for the workout session, a french production for movie night. How about language exchange? Polyglot chats or even good old repetition? The list goes on …

French learning – French bedtime reading
  1. Discipline 

No pain, no gain. As they say in the fitness world. In the language world, I want to say that practice makes perfect. Repeat after me, practice makes perfect. But remember that perfect is personal. I mean, it’s your own kind of perfect. Set up a morning routine with a french program, choose french for your bedtime reading, chat with your french coworker at lunch or get some grammar done on the commute. See? The list still goes on …

Ask for help to French language teacher !
  1. Ask for help

There is always a way. And if you can’t find one yourself, ask for help. Try your friends, or a language learning group on social media. Why not even get a tutor or a french teacher. 1-1 or in a group if you feel shy and in need of classmates to motivate you. Whatever you choose, know that every language learner juggles excitement and uncertainty. On most days, you find excitement in a correct answer to a game show or a line in a movie, on others you make a grammar mistake or a spelling error and you start to doubt again. It’s natural, all you have to do is look ahead at your objectives, keep going with discipline, change it up with new techniques and when in need ask a fellow language learner or a professional language teacher.


Read to Write, Listen to Speak

Read to Write, Listen to Speak

Skill order for better learning

Keywords < language skills – reading – writing – speaking – listening >

Learn French – Skill order for better learning

Learning a language can be seen as a challenge from the outside. Have you ever asked yourself: Why are there so many words? What about this grammatical rule? Do I have to learn this tense? The answer is simple: it depends on your goal.

When you decide to learn a language, you generally have a goal in mind. Your why if you may. So how do you determine your why? Simple, ask yourself why am I learning this language? How much time do I have? And what is the ultimate result I am looking for at this end of this time period? Is it purely a grammatical test or is “une production orale/écrite”

If you have a grammar test to enter a certain course, then you can focus on your grammatical skills. The way to do this is a clear schedule of the grammar lessons you may encounter in the test and as many practice exercises you can find: these can be online, from a language learning book, ask a native friend or better yet, get yourself a teacher to help you out. 

Your language goals need to be reasonable to your time frame.

Now remember that these goals need to be realistic! While high expectations can be a good fuel for your motivation, you need to keep it grounded which means your language goals need to be reasonable to your time frame. You cannot just say “I want to be a native in French in a week”! Remember that EVEN native speakers have been studying that language since the first day of school and they STILL are. Language learning is a work in progress. You always learn, you continue to grow, to improve and enlarge your knowledge skills, be it in vocabulary, culture or other domains. 

So what’s the main rule? How do I approach my language goals? 

Answer: Step by step. To make it easier, there is a rule of thumb in terms of the language skills you want to work on and that is: If you want to improve your writing, read more and if your focus is speaking then listen more. You have “une production écrite” coming soon? Read everything and anything that comes in your way. Choosing topics similar to your theme is preferable and beneficial as you will learn more vocabulary. You also get to familiarize yourself with the structure of the writing, the spelling of the words and much more etc.

French listening – Setting Calm app in French. calm.com
French listening – Setting Calm app in French. calm.com

“I have to speak!” then listen in the language you’re learning. TV, radio, music, conversations etc. You name it and it’s there. It’s 2020 which means that technology has left us no room for excuses. My favorite trick is listen to the radio in the language you want to improve for 20 minutes first thing in the morning. Be creative, you can choose the channel, the country, the accent but keep the time and your routine. Having the language on the background as you wake up, brush your teeth, make your coffee and dress up HELPS A LOT!

How to never miss a day of learning: Tips on continuous progress in your language journey

How to never miss a day of learning:
Tips on continuous progress in your language journey.

Discipline is tricky when it comes to progress. It is fundamental in the pursuit of any achievement yet, it takes effort and consistency. Being disciplined in your language learning journey can be hard sometimes. In order to persevere, you need to keep your eye on the ball. Meaning? Stay focused. Think about your language goal and imagine the road ahead. Imagine yourself at a french gathering discussing “les oeuvres de Baudelaire, Jules Vernes ou Victor Hugo”. Or maybe you’re into the arts and you want to show off your love for the Louvre and its masterpieces. Perhaps your goal is interpreting in a big organization, working in the fashion capital or studying in the city of lights… The list goes on but one thing ties them all together: Disciple. 

Here are 3 tips to help you maintain focus and discipline. 

1. Share Your Learning Commitment

What is your objective to learn French? Share Your Learning Commitment! @Canva

Sharing your commitment doesn’t just mean post it on social media and tell the whole world about it. It can be in the slightest challenge between you and your little brother, your sister or your cousin. You can tell your best friend or a fellow language learner. Or a higher status such as a language professor, a tutor or a mentor. Why? Sharing your commitment puts you in a position to persist. You feel obligated to check that daily target off your list and when you do, it gives you that great feeling of achievement. You promised and you delivered and now you feel good about it.

2. Remove Distractions

Start with 10 minutes, pen and paper ! @canva

Start with 10 minutes! Do you have 10 minutes to spare? Only 10 minutes! That’s half the time spent watching a sitcom. Let’s have a look at what can be done in 10 minutes: Unloading the dishwasher, folding some clothes, clearing your desk, making an appointment… Now consider taking 10 minutes off of distractions. No phones, no computers. Just you and the old-school pen and paper. Maybe try some grammar exercises, read a text, or a few pages, pick up a hard copy of a french dictionary and learn a couple of words: write them down, use them in a sentence or two. Start with 10 minutes, choose any time of the day and feel free to step it up when you feel ready.

3. Always Carry Learning Material With You

Wake up – learn – repeat! @canva

Bookworms tend to carry at least a book with them at all times. Language learners have the advantage of variety. Carry a novel, a reading book, an exercise book. Download an App, a Podcast, a video. Remember, at this point, any french material is learning material. Anything you choose to carry with you at all times will bring something new to your language goals and gets you one step closer to achieving them. The key is REPETITION. Wake up – learn – repeat.

You Speak French, so What? : 3 Reasons to Brag About Your Français

3 Reasons to Brag About Your Français.

You’ve decided, you bought the book, picked up a notebook and booked a lesson. You start researching Paris and its prominent destinations. You set your french playlist of podcasts and songs. You try your favorite TV show with subtitles and then dubbing and you get over-excited of the thought of saying “Bonjour” to the next person you see. You start imagining yourself strolling from the Tuileries all the way to the Bastille, listening to Édith Piaf and then BOOM: “Why are you learning French?”, they ask.

To be honest I ask this question to my students and I get a different response every single time. Although I ask it to set up the aims and objectives of our lessons, others may ask in curiosity. Drawn by the thought of English as the most spoken language in the world, they overlook the many many perks of being a French speaker. Here are 3 reasons why you should learn French!

270+ Million; 29 Countries.

World map of the Francophonie © OIF

That’s right! If you become a french speaker, then you join over 270 million people that use french in their daily transactions. You have over 270 million opportunities to practice the language, 270 million chances to meet a new friend and now 270 million possibilities to a wider future. 

French is spoken across 5 continents with an overwhelming majority between Europe, Africa and North America. You know what that means? It means that wherever you travel, you can speak french. 29 countries, 29 new places, 29 new experiences. 

Fashion, Art and Literature

PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 27: Models walk the runway during the Balmain Womenswear Spring/Summer 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on September 27, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)

Paris: the capital of fashion, home to leading fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton etc. The Louvre, the world’s largest Art museum, home of the most visited work of art “La Joconde”. An open access to the works of great writers such as Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire in the original text is another experience. All this and more when you speak french. 

Work and lifestyle 

The Seychelles – Official language is French

Speaking french means having the opportunities to work in two of the top 10 world’s biggest economies like France and Canada. Live in exotic summer conditions all year long like in The Seychelles. Go big with the glamorous lifestyle of Monaco. Breath the history and culture in Tunisia. Get used to the lively markets of Dakar and the rich musical culture of Senegal. The list goes on, remember, 29 countries to visit, live in or work, you just have to pick the lifestyle that suits you. “That’s why I’m learning french”, you answer. 

10 Common expressions in French

10 Common expressions in French 

Idiomatic expressions are a very important part of a language. If you have been learning French for a while, then it is high time you learned some of the french expressions. Here are 10 of the common expressions in French. You might even come across some of them along your learning process. 

  1. Voir la vie en rose 
La vie en rose

This sentence is literally translated to “to see life in pink”. Pink is definitely a happy color. So, whenever you are happy or feeling good, you can say that you are seeing life in pink – je vois la vie en rose would be the sentence to use. 

  1. Avoir une nuit blanche 
Une ‘nuit blanche’ © iStock

It means to have a white night. Is the night white? Of course not. Therefore, if you did not rest nor did you sleep at night, you can say that you had une nuit blanche. It means you spent the whole night awake and did not sleep at all

  1. Avoir la main verte 

“To have a green hand” is an expression used to describe someone who can and know how to take care of plants. 

  1. Avoir la chair de poule

Literally, avoir la chair de poule would be to have a chicken’s skin. We know, such a strange expression. Idiomatically, on the other hand, it means to have goosebumps. Does it make more sense now? We hope it does.

5. Ce n’est pas la mer à boire 

“It is not the sea to drink”. In other words, it is not that difficult, it is not a big deal. It is not like you are going to drink the sea. 

  1. Tomber dans les pommes 

Tomber is to fall. Les pommes is apples. “To fall into apples” is a sentence used to say that someone fainted. Elle est tombée dans les pommes – She fainted

  1. Avoir un poil dans la main 

Avoir un poil dans la main is “to have a hair in one’s hand”. Metaphorically, this sentence means “to be lazy” – so lazy that you have let a hair grow out of your palm!

  1. Avoir le cafard 

Le cafard is the cockroach. Avoir le cafard means “to have the cockroach”, which in its turn means to be very sad, disappointed, depressed – all the negative feelings you might have when you see a cockroach. 

  1. Les doigts dans le nez 

When things are pretty easy, one can say they can do them with their eyes closed in english. In french, it is a bit different. One would say that they can do them with their fingers in their nose. 

  1. L’habit ne fait pas le moine 
L’habit ne fait pas le moine @canva

L’habit ne fait pas le moine is the english expression for “do not judge a book by its cover means”. Literally, the expression means “the clothing does not make the monk”. In fact, just because someone is dressed in a monk’s robes, that doesn’t mean that they are actually a monk. So do not judge things based on their appearance. 

Oh là là ! 5 clichés about French culture

Oh là là ! 5 clichés about French culture

If you are a fan of Netflix series, the french language and the french culture, then you must have heard of Emily in Paris; the sensational series illustrating the adventures of Emily, a young American woman, in Paris. Upon its release on Netflix, Emily in Paris has received a huge praise from global viewers. Yet, it was and still is criticized by most French viewers. You wonder why? Well, most French people would say that it is perpetuating stereotypes and clichés about French people, their culture, and Paris in particular. In this article, we will highlight 5 of the most perpetuated clichés about the French culture and their origin. 

  1. All French wear berets
All French don’t wear berets

Wearing a beret was perpetuated by the inhabitants of certain regions, artists or even intellectuals. It was also the headdress of film directors during the 1980s. We may not be sure of its origin, but we do know that berets had been particularly popular in the Pyrenees during the Middle Ages. Worn flat, tilted to one side, forward or back, it has long styled men and women of all ages but became scarce after World War II. Today there are probably only the military, some painters from Montmartre and very few people who still wear them. So no, not all French people wear berets. 

  1. French people cannot speak English
According to EF 2020’s report, France is 28th English proficiency country in the world and among 35 countries in Europe.

Can you think of any other country where the people have difficulties speaking English? Of course you can. Unless you take language classes, practice the language more often than not, you will not be able to speak it fluently. In other words, you can easily find people who do not/cannot speak English in France, but that does not mean that ALL people cannot. In addition, if France remains one of the top tourist destinations in the world, it means that, as an English-speaking tourist, you will be able to find the right people to talk to and get what you want.

  1. It is the French who came up with the French Fries 
Pomme Pont-Neuf… according to French

Did you know that Belgium has actually claimed to be the origin country of the “French” fries? It has been known to many that french fries were born on the bridges of Paris in 1789 during the French Revolution under the name “pomme Pont-Neuf”. Nevertheless according to Belgian historian Jo Gérard, French fries have existed since the end of the 17th century among the neighbouring country. Will we ever know who came up with the fries? Not sure. 

  1. French people are lazy 

Assuming that the French work a little less, they remain indeed among the most productive in the world. Lazy people can be found anywhere in the world, but the majority of them are definitely not in France. 

  1. French (mostly parisian) people are often complaining
Napoleon said “The French complain of everything, and always.”

In big cities, people are always stressed and running somewhere. Especially in Paris, with a number of inhabitants that is very high, stress is communicated very easily between people. That is why we feel like people are always complaining. But that is definitely not the truth. Give people a chance, you might be surprised by what they have to offer, give, say, or show. 

Word of the day: Myth or Fact?

Word of the day: Myth or Fact?

Keywords: <language learning tips – language learning myths – vocabulary >

Some of you may have lived in an era where it existed on toilet paper. For the rest of us, it was mostly in newspapers, magazines and with the rise of technology online dictionaries. Can you guess what it is?  Word of the day! While many of us language learners are always looking for the next best thing to improve our linguistic skills, the word of the day becomes a very common question amongst us: Does it really help? How useful is it?

 In other words, is it a myth or a fact that word of the day can help you in your language learning journey?

Fact 1: Enlarge your vocabulary

There’s nothing like the rush of learning a new word in the language you dream to master. You feel like a poet, a writer, a native speaker… That new word that you will get to use today in your conversations with your native speaking friends. That new word that you will drop in your language class to show you are making an effort in expanding your vocabulary. That new word every day that feels like getting you to the next level of proficiency: “Innoubliable ”, “Pétillante ”, “Intrépide” etc. Fancy, right? 

Learn French in context

Fact 2: Learn in context

Words of the day do not come solo. They are accompanied by a definition, an origin and an example. So, you don’t just learn a new word fast, you understand the new word. You get to read that word in a sentence, discover its grammatical use and its linguistic purpose. That’s a three for one offer, are you still thinking about it? Here’s one more fact that might finally convince you. 

French spelling

Fact 3: Spelling bee genius? 

Now, I am not saying you will win every spelling bee competition. What I’m saying is that you’ll know how to spell the word and if you pay REALLY GOOD ATTENTION to your words of the day, you will be one step closer to a flawless “orthographe” in your next “expression écrite”! Isn’t that ideal? Now with all these interesting facts, there is one powerful myth. This myth is not only considered in language learning, but in any part of your life you want to improve. It is an undeniable challenge and rejecting it will break the pattern and drop all these facts like a stone. Can you guess what the myth is? Shortcuts! Carelessness, negligence and laziness. You must commit to the daily reading, use and practice of these words for all the facts to help you in your language learning journey. You have to work at it. No shortcuts, only hard work. It’s called word of the day for a reason! It’s everyday so keep up and the results will show. 

Happy learning!

Why is 1-1 tutoring a good deal?

We asked 10 language learners about their linguistic experience. How they felt when they started learning? What do they think is missing in their schedule? Are they confident enough to speak to a native? All answers led to one thing, 1-1 tutoring is important!

When you try a new language the most common first steps are: alphabets, grammar rules and vocabulary lists. But when you do it alone, you are missing a magic touch. A native touch that will help you combine all these steps together and take your fears away. 1-1 tutoring is beneficial for many reasons. 

Learn French online – 1 :1 lesson – paralinguistic

ONE: The human touch

Now I know most people will say we have TV and radio for that and I don’t disagree. But conversations are fluid. Topics change, opinions differ and the flow of conversation could take its speakers to a new wave in a split second. That is what TV and radio miss. That human touch, the lifelike interaction, the actual human interaction. It may be virtual but it’s still human. And that is very important not only in learning the basics but also in understanding the paralinguistic side of language. What is paralinguistics you ask? Paralinguistics are important cues of communication. It can be in the facial expressions, the hand gestures, the tone, the pitch, the speed… remember, all that in FLUID conversation. 

advantage of French tutoring – online French lesson

TWO: All to yourself

One of the points that I personally like about 1-1 tutoring is the one to one basis. You don’t have to be afraid to ask questions. You don’t need to wait for your classmate to arrive on time. You won’t be interrupted by someone who may not be as serious as you are about the language learning process. It’s just you and your tutor. Undivided attention, a two-way communication that will last the time of the session. The tutor will not only plan your lesson but he or she will be all ears to help you get to the next language level.

French lesson plan

THREE: Lesson planned

This is a very important point. Having a good tutor is average. Choosing the right tutor for you is optimal to reach your potential and achieve your goals. The right tutor will not just follow the book, he/she will plan lessons customized to your linguistic needs. The right tutor will not just stick to the lesson, he/ she will go far beyond whether in grammar, vocabulary or even expressions. The right tutor will know your language level, aims and struggles but will also know your likes and dislikes, your daily habits and your future plans. WHY you ask? Because we learn best when we use the things we are most familiar with and to link examples to all those personal elements is key to your learning process and that is not what any tutor does. That is what the RIGHT tutor does.

Interesting Facts about the French language

Interesting Facts about the French language

Keywords: learning french – french language – facts about french

“French is a very beautiful language”

“French pronunciation is poetic” 

“French is rich but very hard to learn” 

“French is a romance language” 

“French is the language of love, food, art, and fashion”

Have you ever come across any of these statements before? Or maybe you have met someone who told you something similar. Either way, knowing all the things assigned to the French language, have you ever thought if there is more to it than that? What makes it so special? Here are some interesting facts that you should know about the French language. 

Photo: InkDropCreative/Depositphotos
  1. French speaking England 

It might be a well-known fact to some, but it still is important to remind you that French had been the official language of England for over 300 years. In fact, French became the official language of France in 1539 and replaced Latin as the language of courts and chanceries. 

World map of the Francophonie
  1. French speaking people 

Did you know that there are 274 million people that speak French in the whole world? Believe it or not, but the majority of french speakers are not French and do not live in France. They are in Africa. The African continent is home to around 120 million French speakers. French is the official language of 29 African countries, including Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burundi and Mali. In most African countries, French is generally spoken alongside local languages.

Frenglish: Montreal’s word of mouth / JAMES BRAITHWAITE
  1. “Frenglish” 

French makes up to 30% of the English vocabulary. This goes back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 when French became the language of the aristocracy and administration. This eventually resulted in a great number of French words and expressions being incorporated into English.

<book> Amour, délices et orgues, Alphonse Allais
  1. Amour and délice 

The words amour (love), délice (delight) and orgue (organ) have the particularity of having a gender that changes from the singular to the plural form. We say amour parfait (perfect love), but  leurs premières amours (their first loves). These are the only three words in the French language that are masculine in the singular and then feminine in the plural. Why, you might ask. That is the magical side of French! 

International Francophonie day: celebration of French language and culture
  1. French Language Day 

There are six “Language Days” celebrated each year by the United Nations. These are dedicated to the six official languages ​​of the United Nations; Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. These celebrations were introduced in 2010 to honour multilingualism and cultural diversity. The date of the Day of the French language was chosen symbolically with reference to March 20, 1970, which marks the creation of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT), which has become the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).* 

*Taken from language magazine.com