Tools Old and New for Learning French

I’m using a book published in 1913 as my French refresher course, but I’m not against modern technology. I mean, I am creating blog posts as I learn, which are the height of internet fashion in 2019. I am writing these posts on a brand-new Microsoft Surface Pro. I even sprang for the fancy Alcantara keyboard.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I needed to learn how to type French characters. If I were in Word, which I use daily in my work as an editor and writer, I would just click on the insert button and choose the accented e or whatever. I know a couple of shortcut codes, but not many. In any case, the shortcuts I know require the number pad, which my laptop keyboard does not have. I just have the number row above the letters.

So I downloaded a French language keyboard. If you’d like to fancy up your laptop, language-wise, here’s how I did it on Windows 10:

  1. Hit that Windows button and type in “keyboard.”
  2. One of the options in the menu that pops up should be “Edit language and keyboard options.” Click that.
  3. In the window that appears, there’s a gray square with a plus in it and the words Add Language. This is exactly what you want to do. Cliquez là.
  4. There were a variety of French dialects to choose from; I went with France French. I may branch out someday. I also chose to only download the keyboard settings and not the language or handwriting parts. It’s easy enough to add those later if I want.
  5. I set my main language to English and French as the second choice. I may add a Spanish keyboard too.
  6. To switch back and forth–and this is the greatest–just hold down the Windows key and hit the space bar. A little menu will pop up with any languages you’ve installed. Hit space until the one you want to use is highlighted.

Et voila! C’est simple. J’écris maintenant avec le clavier AZERTY comme les français.

I’m not, however, doing the lessons on my laptop. I’m using crappy paper and the cheapest of the expensive pens for that.

The crappy paper is a college-ruled notebook. I pick these up for, like, a literal nickel apiece during back to school sales in August. There are cardboard bins of them at the store, and I grab a stack and pay about a dollar. I use these for everything: calculating estimates for projects, reminding myself of things to check in a manuscript, taking impromptu interview notes while I’m on the phone. My current notebook does have a little badge on the front saying that the paper is sustainably sourced, so that’s nice.

The pen is a LAMY in bright pink with blue ink. It’s my first fountain pen, and I am in love. I have written with nothing else since I bought it. I do my French lessons, I write birthday cards to my nephews, I keep to-do lists in my Bullet Journal, all with the LAMY. I don’t know from fountain pens, but if you’ve wanted to be a bit fancy about your pens, this one was less than $40 with ink. And it comes in soooooooo many colors. I may get another loaded with a different color ink. I think this is how obsessions start. I’m okay with that.

Published by Kristen

Freelance editor, author, and publisher