I never thought I’ll have to explain myself about it, but I think it is important for me to do it today.
If you don’t know, I am French. Yet, I speak in English on every social media I have and read English books in English. At first, it was the French community who was judging me: Are you doing this to attract more people on your accounts? Are you doing this for fame? Are you ashamed of being French? Do you think it makes you look cool? Why don’t you translate your English captions in French as well? Etc.
Those questions came back all the time. I once did a livestream and some French people came to ask me why I was still talking in English. As I am trying to spread positivity and kindness, and as I knew they weren’t trying to be mean or anything, I answered calmly and in a nice way.
However, I am starting to get comments from the English speaking community. Not much, but still. It started with a comment on my last YouTube video, saying that I must be brave to speak in a language I don’t know and that no French books could ever be a best-seller in the rest of the world. Then I received a comment on a blog post, telling me that my grammar was awful for someone who claims to be fluent. It didn’t hurt me but receiving more and more comments like this are really starting to get to me, no matter how hard I am trying to stay nice and calm on social media.
I never thought I’ll have to explain myself because I believe that we are allowed to do whatever we want on social media, as long as we are staying respectful. Me speaking in English shouldn’t bother people: If whenever I say something in English it hurts someone physically, sure I’ll stop. But it doesn’t, so I don’t see how anyone should have to say something about it. It doesn’t change anyone’s life, it doesn’t hurt anyone – the only thing it does is that it makes me happy and makes me feel more comfortable, confident. Anyway, I will still explain today why I am speaking in English and not in French, and also why I read English books in English, since many people asked me that as well.
WHY I SPEAK IN ENGLISH
You have to know something about me: Ever since I was 3, ever since I had my very first English lesson, I loved the language. It felt natural, easy. I actually understood it and it attracted me. I loved the sound of it, the words, the way people spoke. And as I grew up, as I started to learn more and more about it, I knew this language was made for me.
French school is amazing but the English lessons I had weren’t the best, so I decided to learn more by myself. I started by listening to the BBC radio every morning before leaving for school and by watching English tv shows with French subtitles and English youtubers. Then, of course, I started to read in English and to watch the same tv shows but with English subtitles. At some point, all I was doing in my life was listening to the English language. But, still, it wasn’t enough.
I knew that to really learn a language, I had to speak it. But how could I ever practice it in France? That’s why I started to speak in English on my Twitter account, because I knew English speaking people were there and could help me. At first, it was only a few tweets, but after I joined the bookstagram community, I decided to only speak in English. The Internet became a way for me to learn, to talk to people from all around the world.
Here is another thing you have to know about me: I started watching booktube videos when I was 15 and I only watched English speaking booktubers. So when I created my bookstagram account, I only knew the English words that are used by the bookish community, such as “TBR”, “wrap-up”, etc. I never was interested in watching French booktubers and never talked to French bookworms, so I knew nothing about the words used in France for it. It made sense for me to speak in the language I knew about, also because I was mostly reading English literature.
I do know now the French words for “TBR”, etc. but they don’t make sense to me. I find them weird and it somehow annoys me. It’s not because I’m feeling superior – it’s just because I grew up listening to the English words and those were the “right” ones in my mind (not that the French ones are wrong, they just don’t make sense to me as I grew up as a reader with other words and didn’t know about the French ones until very late). I am 22 today and I have been watching English booktube videos every morning and every night for 7 years. It grows on you, and I can’t change that. It’s part of my routine (it’s really all I do) and of who I am.
But it isn’t the only reasons. As I said, the English language makes me feel confident and most of all, comfortable. Ever since I was 3, I knew it was the language I was meant to speak. I remember growing up and speaking in English in class and telling some words I never thought I knew. I just knew them because the language felt natural, easy. Even though I love the French language with all my heart, the English one alwas talked to me. It’s in the English language that I feel comfortable enough to share my feelings, to talk about important subjects. It may makes zero sense to you, but it is what is happening to me. For instance, I barely ever say the words “I love you” in French but can say “I love you” in English all the time. How many times have I had to talk to my best friend in English to tell her what was wrong only because I couldn’t get the French words out of my mouth? And if you ever see me talking in French on a video, or in a blog post, you’ll see how weird I’ll look, how shy I am and how uncomfortable I can be.
It’s as if the English language was close to me, but still distant, which allows me to share more things about it because I can be someone else.
Finally, as I adore the English language, I have always wanted to live in an English speaking country. You have to see me in the UK, how comfortable I feel and how different I look. I am happy there, I am myself, and that’s what I want to feel for the rest of my life. But for that I have to know the language, and that’s why I am practicing by talking in English all the time. So yes, I do make mistakes. I see them myself, and sometimes I don’t. How many times have I wanted to scream at myself while editing a video because I heard myself make a big mistake but couldn’t do anything about it? It happens, it’s life. It’s what you do when you are learning: You make mistakes and you grow from them. I have spent months saying “serie” instead of “series” – I didn’t know, but now I do. And yes, my blog posts have mistakes too, but to be fair I would make mistakes in French too because I barely correct myself after writing. We always make mistakes and that’s okay – it shouldn’t prevent people from speaking another language. They aren’t hurting anyone, I am not hurting anyone. I am just doing it so I can feel myself and so I can grow, learn. And anyway, I shouldn’t have a reason: We all can do whatever we want and if I wanted to speak Spanish tomorrow, I should be able to do it without someone coming at me for it.
So here is why I am speaking in English on social media, even right now:
- Because the English language feels natural to me and allows me to open myself;
- Because I grew up listening to English speaking booktubers and it grew on me;
- Because I mostly read English literature;
- Because I want to learn and to practice to be able to become, one day, fluent.
I will, however, start working with an English speaking person for my blog who will correct what I write and explain to me what I did wrong. This way I’ll be able to learn even more and to present you something that is written correctly.
WHY I READ ENGLISH BOOKS IN ENGLISH
Honestly, it is very simple: I don’t see why I should read a translation, which costs me almost twice the price of a paperback copy, when I understand the English language and could read the real words chosen by the author.
But yes, I do mostly read English literature. I have to say that I do not like French YA books, maybe I haven’t found the right one but I can’t seem to like it. However, I do love some French adult books, such as thriller or historical fiction, and adore French classics. That is why I am trying this year to get back to French classics because no, I am not ashamed of my culture and yes, I do love the French language.
(And yes, I do love and respect French publishing houses. Honestly, I don’t even understand why I wouldn’t as I work in one.)
ABOUT KINDNESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I have been thinking about the right way to finish this blog post and the only idea that came to my mind was to talk about criticism we receive online.
I am more than okay with people correcting my mistakes. Honestly, please, do it. I am here to learn and I won’t take it badly if you do it with respect. However, I do not understand the point of reading my longest article only to leave me a comment about my grammar, telling me that it’s awful and that I still claim to be fluent.
Here is the thing: If your comment doesn’t add anything positive to the world, please keep it to yourself. You can not love me nor my work, it’s totally fine – but please, realise that words have a power and that they can hurt. You do not have to come at me for telling me this – you are wasting both your time and mine. I believe it is useless to read something you don’t like, or by someone you don’t like, just to be mean in the end (uselessly mean).
I don’t know why but I have been having quite a few “haters” those past few months. Whether it was to insult me, to tell me to lose weight or to steal my identity and pictures, I had to deal with all of this. So of course this comment didn’t really bother me. I have been told worse and I learnt that what people say about me say more about themselves that it does about myself. I am sorry to see that some people are using their own insecurities on others, maybe to feel better or else. Whatever it is, I truly hope that all those people will soon find the peace they are looking for and will learn to love themselves as well to respect others.
However, I won’t stay silent. I will talk about this hate I can receive, but always in a respectful way. I always protected those people by never sharing either their names or usernames. I never insulted them or have been saying mean things about them. I never judged them as a human being. But I am allowed to be mad, to respond to those comments, no matter how insignificant they are and even though I shouldn’t lose my own time on this.
So here is what I am trying to say: If you do not like what people are sharing on the Internet, or if you just don’t like the person, unfollow them and forget about it. As long as they aren’t doing or saying anything hurtful, there is no need to be mean to them. You are hurting yourself by following them, really. It’ll only make you mad and that is how you will come to post hurtful things on the Internet. You are free to follow whoever you want, to control what you want to see on social media – so do it the right way. And before leaving a criticism, please ask yourself if this is helpful in any way.
To end this blog post, I would like to share a quote from Girl Online by Zoe Sugg, a book I may haven’t loved, but those words have been staying with me ever since I read it:
“Every time you post something online, you have a choice.
You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world—or you can make it something that takes away.
I tried to add something by starting Girl Online.
And for a while, it really seemed to be working.
So, next time you go to post a comment or an update or share a link, ask yourself: is this going to add to the happiness in the world?
And if the answer is no, then please delete.
There is enough sadness in the world already. You don’t need to add to it.”
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. People have been asking me to talk about how to read in another language and where to start, how to learn another language even, and that is something I am planning to do.