In the summer of 2009, I fell in love with the English language and American politics at the same time. I have Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing to thank for that. As a child and pre-teen, I read voraciously and wrote prolifically, but when we moved to England and my mother tongue, French, began to rust, so did my love of language. Sorkin convinced me that English could be elegant. He also showed me how exciting — how glamorous, how romantic — politics could be. Or could, at least, appear.
In 2018, UK-based publisher Unbound picked up my novel Unscripted, which is what I like to think of a smart beach read about a young woman who takes her celebrity crush a little far. Unbound are innovative and different, and well-regarded in the UK. They crowdfund their books, and kick in as a more-or-less traditional publisher once the target £££ have been raised. My book’s did well — it raised a third of its funds in the first couple of weeks — but the whole process is an emotional rollercoaster.
If you are going to be investing time and money in regular one-to-one tuition, it’s important that you choose your teacher wisely. After all, you may soon be spending more time with them than you do with some of your closest friends.
Five years ago, I fell in love with an app. I knew giving it my heart was probably dangerous, that it was likely to change in ways that I didn’t love since I already thought it was perfect. Nevertheless, I jumped into The List App and helped to make it a bookish place, sharing lists of my favourite reading-related podcasts and facilitating group lists where we could share what we were reading each week.
If you’re one of the people who’s decided to use this time for language learning: firstly, I applaud you and your iron willpower and indestructible motivation. Secondly, you might be wondering how to start and what your language study should actually look like. From my experience as a French and Spanish tutor, here are some pointers.
Sometimes, when people are talking about classic books from their childhoods — Anne of Green Gables, say, or Charlotte’s Web — I stay very quiet. I haven’t read a lot of those, and I wish I had. I shouldn’t feel ashamed, though, because there’s a good reason I haven’t. I grew up in French-speaking Brussels in the ’80s and we had a whole different set of children’s classics.