Language Learning Daily Rituals: Baguette

Incorporating an integral element of French culture into your daily rituals to help you stay committed… This could apply to any foreign language, or – indeed – any habit or subject of study!

language learning daily rituals baguette

If you have lived or travelled in France, you will certainly be familiar with the ritual of buying bread from the bakery first thing in the morning. You may also, then, have experienced the sentiment of simultaneous relief and joy you get when passing someone on your way, walking in the opposite direction, a baked good of some description in their hand? Your confirmation that the bakery is OPEN today, and that you are going to arrive ON TIME without it closing! NB: Bakeries, like many establishments in France, have certain closing times during the day – sometimes for up to two hours. Don’t get caught out!!

Rather than representing a chore or a hardship of any kind, this early morning ritual is both a necessary and important duty, and a pleasure! Who wouldn’t enjoy starting the day by being greeted with the fresh, warm aromas and beautiful array of delicious-looking pastries that a French bakery has to offer?

Why is this important, and how can I make it relevant to language learning?

There are several ways in which you can use this practice to help inspire your own language learning daily rituals:

  • you make time for it first thing in morning: it may require you to get up earlier (unless, for you, it can mean starting your day later…), but by creating a time slot first thing in the morning expressly for language learning, it won’t encroach on the rest of your busy schedule;
  • it constitutes an important, essential task – therefore, treat it as such! It will never get your attention unless you see it as something necessary for you to do, not just a pastime;
  • opening your routine with a learning (or a physical) activity will leave you feeling set up for the rest of the day! You will be prepared both mentally and physically, as you will already be engaged in the process of personal growth and development!

Please read for more ideas on how to integrate foreign language into your rituals for everyday life!

What do you want to learn, and what for?

The biggest, most important question to be asking yourself over the course of your learning journey, and the one to which the answer will keep you going when the journey gets tougher, is not ‘HOW am I going to do this’, but ‘WHY am I going to do this’!!

In writing this, I am mainly addressing foreign language learners – however, the principles of prioritising the WHY over the HOW can be applied in any domain (professional, sporting, creative, …), and to whatever you are in the process of learning to do or trying to accomplish!!!

Hence, this is generally one of the first questions I tend to ask my new students in order to find out the nature of their goals, and exactly what we are to begin working towards. 

Another reason I ask is to hear from them what outcome they envisage, so that it becomes what they keep in mind when work begins, gets tougher, and eventually rewards them!

Undoubtedly, when embarking upon any new adventure or endeavour, we can always expect to encounter obstacles of some description. But we wouldn’t do without them – in their absence, there wouldn’t be much of any substance involved in the learning experience, and what use calling it an adventure or an endeavour if it’s no more challenging or fulfilling than any of our other regular, day-to-day activities? So how best to ensure our perseverance in order to see our enterprise through to the end, past the challenges and obstacles? 

The temptation or, perhaps, the initial reflex, is to ask ourselves the question of: ‘How?’, but repeating the question ‘How…?’ fixates our attention on those obstacles, whereas by focusing instead on the question ‘Why…?’ we liberate ourselves from such concerns, thus allowing creative energy and inspiration to flow freely…

Why… did you decide to undertake it in the first place?

Reflect on the original motivation or incentive which struck you, the spark of genius or inspiration which gave you the initial idea to go forth and be brilliant… Is this a creative endeavour, or one related to your profession, or a sporting ambition? When, in the beginning, you first felt a rush of excitement thinking about what greatness lay ahead, already then were you making a connection in time with the rewarding sensation of accomplishment at the completion of your journey, not to mention the countless victories and challenge-surpassing along the way! Hold onto it – if concentrating on the feeling you want in the end is what it will take to get you there, let it lead you blindly along!!

Why… is the outcome so important to you?

What will achieving your ambition allow you to do that makes you want it so badly? What will the result prove to you? Visualise and make a connection with the ways in which your life will change for the better when you succeed, and think about how you see yourself and your environment: is your home beautiful and renovated, making it a comfortable, safe space to share with your loved one(s)? Has your body changed, and do you feel healthier, stronger and more resilient? Do you finally see for yourself how capable, intelligent, skilled and disciplined you really are? EXCELLENT. THAT is why you embarked upon this journey. THESE are the reasons you want to succeed, and THIS is why YOU WILL CONTINUE and see it through!!

These questions hold on the basis that you personally, not someone else, e.g. at work, set yourself a particular task, goal or ambition. The only way for you to justify dedicating so much of your time to a particular endeavour (least of all when it’s easy, and especially when it’s not) is to focus on how it is significant to you, and not just what it means to someone else or how it will benefit them.

Does thinking about it now make you reconsider your goals somewhat, either altering them, adapting your approach or setting yourself entirely new goals? To that end, do they hold even greater power now that you have reflected on their real significance?

The strength and conviction of each of your answers is the premise of your motivation to continue, so those answers had better be strong and full of conviction!!!

My goal is for you to DECIDE WHY you are starting what you’re about to start, or REMEMBER WHY you started it in the first place, and – in either case – FOCUS ON THE ‘WHY’ from now on and through to the end of the journey!

I invite you, kind readers of this post, to share your own personal goal, foreign language-related or otherwise, in a comment at the bottom of this page (whether or not you intend to pursue a course with me in future, or to make use of the resources soon to be available on this website), as another means of reinforcing it for yourself as well as to provide encouragement and inspiration to your fellow readers by sharing it with them. Thank you in advance! I shall begin that part of the discussion by sharing with you a couple of my own sources of motivation:

Why… learn and improve in Japanese …?

==> so that I can talk with confidence and at length with the Japanese karate instructors with whom I have the good fortune to spend so much time, and so often;

==> so that I can stay constantly so far ahead of my students as to motivate them, and always have some new knowledge, advice or learning material to offer them.


7 advantages of finding that someone can do what you want to do better than you can

… and how that will help you get better at what you want to get better at doing!!

1 Coming across a person or the result of a person’s work which merits your recognition is a sign that your idea to come up with the same thing was a good one: you’re just not the only one who had that idea! Take it as confirmation that what you will pursue is worthy of your efforts, and rest assured having deduced that others (namely, your audience) will also agree that it was a good idea – pick up your pen, and get to work!

2 Seeing another person carrying out a similar idea to yours can provide you with a free and easy ‘sneak-peek’ at what might have happened if you had gone ahead before you actually do so: their product being the draft, your product will be the final version! What would you change about what they have done? Crucially, how could you make sure your version will be even better than theirs? Take notes – and mentally thank them for the opportunity for this extra insight!!

3 You can choose to feel demotivated or encouraged by seeing someone, possibly someone close to you, achieve what you yourself would also have liked to achieve; you can choose. Know that by sharing in the joy of their success, and fuelling their ambitions as well as your own, you will only bring yourself closer to fulfilling your own endeavours! This is because choosing to ignore or shut out feelings of joy for them will only stop those feelings from coming back round to you, whereas by embracing the feelings of celebration associated with success, albeit for someone else, you are saying ‘Yes!!’ to those emotions, and opening yourself up to them. Don’t block out or deny yourself feelings you want to feel – just as importantly, it is helpful to remember to recognise when someone is fully deserving of their success (as you also will be when you have yours), and to offer the same boost you hope to enjoy when your time comes! « Si vous vous sentez vraiment bien à l’égard du succès, peu importe à qui il appartient, vous attirerez le succès à vous ! » (Byrne 2010 : 174).

4 Very often, it is necessary for the same or similar products to be adapted or even redesigned in order to suit a wide audience; how else could we explain the existence of so many innumerable, thriving brands selling the same or similar products? It’s not because you witness someone else’s success with a product the same or similar to the one you wish to promote that you can’t also have the same or yet greater success with your product (be it more or less exactly the same or just similar); the audience they are catering to is almost certainly different to your ideal audience. There is a reason you stand out, so discover your niche, dare to embrace exactly what makes you unique and find the solution to exactly what you can offer your clients that absolutely no-one else could! “The thing to remember is this: someone else’s success does not hinder your chances of achieving what you want.” (Kempton 2018: 152).

5 Admiring a great person is, in itself, a great reflection on you. It isn’t synonymous with admitting you’re less adept than another person, nor is it accepting that you’ve given in to the competition – on the contrary: you can’t lead the way until you’ve been the way, which is why having admiration for someone else can give you the same gratification as having a great personal mentor or role model. For that matter, think of it as having a whole host of mentors, since there is no limit as to how many great examples you may choose to follow, and whose influence you would like to grace your work!! Consider it a product of your clever judgement, and pride yourself on the fact that theirs is the example you have chosen to follow. With a plethora of possible role models available, your personal choice in whom to lend your attention is what will help contribute to your eventual and inevitable triumph!

6 Did your ambition arise out of the inspiration you felt by witnessing someone achieve or dare something brilliant, by any chance…? A person in the figure of a teacher, an athlete or an artist, perhaps? The greatest leaders are those who never deem themselves as having reached the stage where they are no longer students: if, like them, you are constantly in a state of mind where you consider you always have something else to learn, or more progress to make, you are leaving the way open to limitless improvements over the course of your entire career! Your journey constitutes an endless stream of developments in the name of finding excellence: instead of seeing that as something negative, embrace it and realise it means you only ever keep getting better! (2018)

7 When you realise that your choice of reaction towards someone seemingly more skilled or talented than yourself isn’t restricted to an attitude of defeat, disappointment or inadequacy, you will find yourself opening up to all of the above principles. Whereas your instinct may otherwise have been to respond with feelings of inferiority, or to allow yourself to feel intimidated in the presence of this person (or these people), as soon as you learn to adopt this alternative mentality, and the fact that you are free to embrace this different outlook, you can willingly accept that there is only positivity to be found in their existence, their success and their impact on you. Be honest with yourself: there is no limit to your learning, nor will there ever be; there will always be new things for you to learn, and you will always be in a position where you can acquire and develop new skills! When you want to succeed, this is the greatest thing you can be grateful for!!

Le Secret ; Le Pouvoir {both by Rhonda Byrne; translated from the English by Jocelyne Roy}

Wabi Sabi {by Beth Kempton}