French is my third language, after Japanese and English, that I have started learning when I was in 6th grade. This was because I used to live in a French-speaking region of Switzerland and I had difficulties communicating with the locals without any knowledge of French. This language acquisition continues to this day, even in High School and the DP program, teaching me not only French but also about language, communication, and culture. After a few years of learning French, I found out that French shared some similarities with English, which I am fluent in. For example, there are words that are really close to its actual English translation such as particulierment (particularly) and information (information) but with different pronunciations. Moreover, the grammar of the sentences and the order in which words are placed are very similar. However, I found differences as well such as the feminine and masculine words of French. As this idea of feminine and masculine words are not used in either Japanese or English, it was new and hard to get used to at the beginning.
Now that I can speak, write, read and understand French to an intermediate level I begun learning about its culture as well through ways such as watching French movies, reading French stories, learning about French traditions and idioms. These taught me a lot about what France, as a country, is like as well as its culture and how similar or different to the countries of which I speak its languages fluently. It was very interesting to learn and experience French culture because it was something that I was always interested in, as I have visited the country a few times when I used to live in Switzerland.
With this knowledge, I once tried to help a French-speaking tourist find her way in Tokyo. In the beginning, she asked me in English but she seemed to be lost a little, so I told her that I can speak a little bit of French. She then told me that she was looking for a train station and since I knew where she was talking about, I tried to tell her. However, I found it very difficult to teach her exactly where she needs to go because I was not very fluent or natural with French. So, in the end, I ended up using some English words as well as gestures to convey my thoughts to her. This was a valuable experience that made me realize that even though languages are important in communication with others, there are also other ways that we can communicate such as gestures and facial expressions. From this, I learned the importance of communication tools other than languages, teaching me how I can improve my communication with others in the future.