French Files

I see the brain as a giant filing cabinet. Oh, what delights are stored, catalogued and hidden in its depths! As we age, we come to expect that some of those "drawers" will be permanently locked and the key hidden away, who knows where?

I have found that my memory has improved. Rather than being distracted by things of little or no importance, my attention now goes to the work or conversations at hand. Similar to the flashing of an alarm clock during a power outage, negative emotions like worry, sadness or fear flashes STRESS!, STRESS!, STRESS! This causes cortical inhibition and describes what happens when a small part of the brain is inhibited in preparation for flight or fight response to the perception of stress.

When stressed, you are more likely to forget where you put the car keys or if you shut off the iron. Information that you know you know may be inaccessible and locked away in the "filing cabinet" of your brain during stressful times. A great stressor for learners is fear - fear of ridicule, of making mistakes or of making yourself look foolish, which then causes more of what you don't want because you are in cortical inhibition.

I wish to salute Twitter friends, Lucie Octeau and Louis Rondeau, who have both, in their own ways, encouraged me to dig out the "file" in my brain marked "F" for "French!"

I haven't used my French for a number of years. Now, regular implementation of stress techniques that enhance cortical functioning, together with Lucie and Louis' support, I feel confident enough to be able to take risks and be okay as I make mistakes while I practice, practice, practice. (practiquer, practiquer, practiquer!)

Un gros merci à vous deux! Un jour, peut-être, j'écrirai un billet en français.

How has fear impacted your learning? What would be different for you if you were able to transform the fear?

4 Replies to “French Files”

  1. C’est un bien gentil clin d’oeil Marianna. Et tu as raison, il nous faut faire ces efforts si on veut garder accès à tous nos tiroirs!

    And you sure got access to your “french file” easily cause your french is pretty good indeed!


  2. My minor in college was French. I’m not even going to try to say this in French. I have fear of failure tho’ when I need fear it’s not there. Like when I lay down to look at the stars at the cabin, right after I encountered a back-arched mountain lion hissing at me. In traffic, riding my bicycle when I got hit by a car etc.

  3. Quel beau billet! J’encourage tous mes amis anglophones à ne pas se “gêner” et à pratiquer leur français avec moi. Je remarque souvent que nos compatriotes anglophones ont peur de parler français, par crainte de ne pas trouver le “mot juste”. Mon conseil? Allez-y, faites des erreurs, “c’est pas grave”! Nous adorons vous entendre parler français, et surtout, nous ne vous jugerons pas!

  4. Lucie,
    Merci pour l’encouragement. (clink-clink) A nos tiroirs!

    Interesting observation. Perhaps it has to do with what is important to you?

    Reminds me of the 70 yr. young ladies who would come to my Aquafit class. They were terrified of water, but determined to do the class. Was thrilled to eventually see them start swimming.

    “Billet.” Voilà, un nouveau mot! Je me le souviens maintenant.

    Je suis en accord avec vous. C’est bon conseil pour la vie, aussi, n’est-ce pas? N’ayez pas crainte d’apprendre, de practiquer et de faire les erreurs.

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