Parlez-vous français?

If no then stick with me as I might have a tip or two to help you in your journey. I’ll walk you through the same path that I took to get to where I am today. The journey wasn’t an easy one, but as they say – where there is a will there is a way. As a language coach, I’ll tell you what I tell my clients. In order to be fluent in a foreign language one needs to master four skills: listening, speaking reading and writing. It’s important to exercise all four, especially speaking which is often left aside.

Immersion – Being in a country where they speak the language helps tremendously. There are constant reminders of the language on TV, radio, people around you, the products you buy etc. The constant exposure just naturally allows us to absorb the language. Of course not everybody is in a position to move so how about finding a local French community? Ask if anyone runs a language café or any events which might simulate the use of the language.

Language school – We can pick up the language from people around us but formal classes really help in laying the foundation. As babies, we never needed a grammar book to master our mother tongue. We learned by listening and repeating. As a second language learner, we need a helping hand to show us the other way. I say the other way as we already have another language in our heads. This is where we translate and make mistakes.

Reading – Helps immensely in building vocabulary and cementing the grammar rules. It’s important that we read according to level. I wouldn’t ask my clients to read Shakespeare. I recommend basic books, as basic as a child’s story book, then move on to easy to read novels. I find magazines quite useful too as they are packed with language and visuals of what we need in daily life. Look out for interviews as this is where we also pick up the spoken language. 

Media – Whereas TV can be passive, when listening to the radio one has to pay attention to the speaker. So it is an excellent way to improve on listening. TV shows (soaps) are great too. I think in one month I went from being a ‘mute’ to ‘chatterbox’ just by watching soaps. I highly recommend petits secrets enter voisins and listening to France Inter for useful discussions. For all my little worries and questions, I always tune to watch Pascal on You Tube. There are also websites where you could communicate with other learners either online or face to face. I’ve used conversation exchange which was quite good. 

Language events – All that learning needs to be put into practice. That’s where face-to-face talks with natives come in handy. Happy people is an organisation which hosts such events in Toulouse. This can be a good place to start if you are shy to speak to people you know. A stranger is always a good listener. This was a great place for me to practice, with no judgement. In exchange, I got to teach the French English. A beneficial exchange. Perhaps you can look for such organisations where you live. 

Don’t shy away, speak – That’s the golden rule. It might feel strange attempting to speak a foreign language but keep at it. Michel Thomas is my guru in learning to speak foreign languages. I’ve learned to speak faster than expected thanks to his methods. 

So, I hope in no time you’ll be parle-ing français. Bon courage! Live Love Laugh – Learn x 




Marie x

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