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Selena Zhao – Oh My Learning French Has Made Me a Francophile!

Dive: Linguist - French
Description: Can read, write, speak, and understand French
Level: Level 1
Level Requirements: Can read, write, speak, and understand French at a basic level
Certified On: May 26, 2020

Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).

Selena Zhao

Name: Selena Zhao Break Diving Level: Recruit Number of Certified Dives: 2 From: United States In: United States

1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?

At my middle school, we had the option to begin learning a foreign language in 7th grade. This would eventually give students the boost they needed to be AP level for that language in senior year of high school. 

Of the four language options I had—French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese—I chose French because (1) Chinese is really hard, (2) Japanese basically requires you to learn 3 different writing systems, (3) I had heard it would help with my English, and (4) I could practice with my French neighbors. I never expected to become an almost Francophile, but here I am!

2. How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?

I actually took 5 years to accomplish this dive (but perhaps it only took 1 or 2 to truly learn the basics). Taking the courses at school has made learning it a lot easier, but my own progress has also depended greatly on the competence of the teacher. I enjoyed it at first with my middle school teacher, but as the years wore on, progress became less discernible. It didn’t help that I didn’t always see eye to eye with the new high school teacher. I was definitely considering quitting the language at some point, but I’m glad I pushed through to accomplish this dive.

3. What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

The hardest part was motivating myself to practice French outside of school. 

If I only did whatever the class required of me, I could still earn the language credits I needed to graduate, but I wouldn’t improve. In fact, last year, I put minimal effort into the course, and as a result, my vocabulary and verbal communication skills started to deteriorate. It became a regular cycle of disappointing myself with my lack of fluency and feeling less motivated to improve. 

I think my turning point came when I realized the progress that my peers were making in comparison. Their presence helped motivate me to continue working towards this dive when it got hard, because as I learned, practice makes (almost) perfect.

4. What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

I think the easiest part was always having access to the resources to learn. Taking a course in the subject provided the backbone and structure I needed, and the rest was filled in with web searches. With all these resources on hand, the only thing stopping me from accomplishing this dive was myself. I also think cognates are really useful.

5. What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

Most importantly, I would advise you to never give up. No language is easy, and every language pursuit is easy to give up. I would definitely have regretted it, though, if I had ended my French education when I was simply done with schoolwork. 

Bottom line, even though it took me 5 years, pursuing French was (and continues to be) hugely rewarding for both its cultural exposure and its helpfulness in communication skills. If for nothing else, learn French to better understand English! There are a lot of English words that derive from French!

6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

Some of the best resources I used and would recommend include: 

  • Textbooks Any materials you can find from a high school French program will help you.

  • Quizlet (https://www.quizlet.com) I found quizlet.com really helpful for learning new vocabulary because there are so many sets to choose from and tools to use. 

  • Lawless French (https://www.lawlessfrench.com/) I use this site for clarifying grammar rules.

  • Word Reference (https://www.wordreference.com) I use this site for translating words accurately. 

  • Duolingo (https://www.duolingo.com/course/fr/en/Learn-French) When I had time, I completed lessons on Duolingo, but I personally used it for review more than actual learning.

  • Break Diving (https://www.breakdiving.io) – Their French community and online French events have given me opportunities to practice speaking and writing, and to make new friends who are also studying French.

Resource 1: Break Diving - Come join our awesome French community.

Resource 2: Word Reference - I use this site for translating words accurately.

Resource 3: -

Resource 4: -

Resource 5: -

7. Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level).

Ce n’est pas une grande adventure, mais je crois qu’il a contribué un peu à ma formation. 

Pendant le confinement, j’ai changé la langue de mon téléphone en français. J’étais motivée par mon amie qui a changé la langue de son téléphone en chinois il y a quelque mois.

D’abord, j’ai été un peu submergé par toutes les choses que je ne pourrais pas comprendre sur mon téléphone. J’ai dû compter sur les images et les icônes pour naviguer. 

Lentement, j’apprendais des mots de vocabulaire utiles, et contrairement aux mots de vocabulaire typicales, je les retiens. Par exemple, j’ai appris qu’onglet signifie tab et aléatoire signifie random!

Aussi, sur des sites de réseaux sociaux, des posts en français me sont recommandés souvent. Sur la page de Découvrir dans le Snapchat, il y a quelques nouvelles françaises, et j’aime les cliquer et puis essayer de comprendre ce qu’elles disent. C’est très intéressant et instructive.

Je recommande de changer la langue de votre téléphone si vous voulez une façon simple mais utile de pratiquer une langue.

8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?

  • The Break Diving dive committee verified my written (reading and writing) French language abilities via live text chat in the Break Diving Fluency Project FP-French chatroom for the current level.

  • The Break Diving dive committee verified my spoken (speaking and listening) French language abilities via live video chat in the Break Diving Fluency Project live video classroom for the current level.

  • Here is a public blog post I wrote in French: https://fr4hlynbrook1920.blogspot.com/2020/01/berthe-morisot-une-femme-de.html

9. Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive? If Yes, Why? If Not, Why Not?

Yes, I plan on becoming fluent in French simply because it’s a language and a culture that I admire. I’m not sure how far I’ll go yet, but it’s always best to be familiar with French in case I do decide to visit someday.

10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?

No Rules. No Excuses. No Regrets.

Certificate photo:

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Selena Zhao is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Linguist - French - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

Certificate number: 41

The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!

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