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Extreme Guerrilla Learner – 30 Days and 0 Dollars to Learn One Language

learning french for free - is it possible?It dawned on me last morning. I’m going to Morocco. And English won’t help me much. What happened later was even more fun.

1. A good foreign language motivator – anxiety

You see, my comfort zone made me feel too safe. I was proudly bilingual – Polish and English served a lot of useful purposes in everyday life – so all the other languages were not that urgent. If you’re following the Guerrilla Language Learning Challenge, you know that the 3 languages I’m planning to learn have not been given a time limit. Strict budgets, yes. Stressful deadlines – not so much.
But then we booked a holiday and I got stressed. (Aren’t holidays supposed to do, like, the opposite of this?)
Morocco doesn’t have English as an official language. Polish is even less useful. People learn English, that’s true – but I’ve taught it long enough to know what to expect.
Now what?

2. Starting with what I know

Here’s the silver lining: I was taught French at school. Seven years of it. And when I say “taught,” I mean it – I can’t say I learned 🙂
French is useful in Morocco. It’s not ideal – Arabic would be – but I think I’ve got a head start with it, and that’s better than nothing. Besides, I will probably pick up some Arabic while I’m there.
This, on reflection, is a behaviour type characteristic of guerrillas of all kinds. In warfare, they’ll use whatever resources are at hand, and make advantage of their knowledge of local conditions. In marketing, the guerrilla variety would use every existing asset, treasure and maximize every acquired lead, before it went out and blew new money on any idea.
So my language learning choice was simple: French for my Moroccan trip.
Which didn’t solve the time or budget problem at all.

3. Time and Money – Polyglot’s Luxuries and Recovering Sunken Costs

You see, on most occasions I would think that this is folly. You can’t learn a language in 30 days, for free. Impossible, no matter how much caffeine is involved. This time, though, I’ve got at least two mitigating circumstances:
– I’m not planning to “learn” a language. I know how little I need to get by in Morocco, and I’m only planning to master a portion of French which would give me confidence.
– I’m not starting from scratch. 7 years of time and effort (my teachers’ effort, sadly, not mine!) must be there somewhere. Just five minutes ago, a freeRice test took me all the way to level 9 or 10 – and kept me there with each word I guessed. So something must have remained!

4. Where you come in – French speakers, au secours!

If you’re a French speaker, teacher or advanced-level learner, I want to hear from you. I need to learn fast and could use some (well, lots) of practice. Use the email icon to the side – or the comments section below – get in touch and maybe we can sort something out 🙂 Feel free to share this appeal with anyone you consider suitable.

5. bravelearning over 30 days: French takes over

I’m sorry if this makes you squirm. I can only assure you it’ll be fun. French is top of my agenda now, I’m motivated by an amazing trip and sky-high anxiety levels, and will not stop till they’re both gone. Expect plenty of updates, including video (feel free to skip this part if you’re of a more sensitive disposition). Bonne chance a nous!

Photo credit: @vickyloras / eltpics, Creative Commons licence


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