This week I finally went to the doctor without my husband! This was a huge accomplishment since I usually drag him everywhere as my personal translator. But not this time. I went alone and spoke to the doctor only in French. I understood everything he said, and even better, he understood me.
But I know I did not communicate perfectly, so I must finally put into action the tips I have received for learning French in France (below).
When I moved to France I thought I would be nearly fluent in French within a year. I am nowhere near fluent. I got lazier over time. My books are collecting dust and the audio series has long been removed from my iPod. I have movies in French that I no longer watch and music that I have not listened to in months. I could practice with my husband, but after a few sentences we always revert back to English. It is just easier. When we go somewhere, he is the one that talks while I stand behind his shoulder.
I want to become fully integrated here and have not put in the best effort of learning the language. I know enough to get by and can have a very casual conversation. But I want to move past casual conversations and have deep talks with family and acquaintances. I am tired of talking about the weather and other light topics.
I probably spent more time in researching tips for learning French in France quickly than in doing what was advised. Now is the time I must really focus, learn and practice. No more excuses or delays.
Tips for Learning French in France
When I was first learning French, I invested heavily in different books and workbooks. I rarely touched them. Living in France, you do not need to have a large book collection to learn French. Instead, I found that people learn the most from following these tips:
- Watch TV and movies in French with English subtitles. Even if you are not actively listening, by playing it you will get used to the sound and start picking out words that you know. By getting accustomed to the sounds and recognizing some of the vocabulary, you will have an easier time later when listening to others.
- Listen to music in French and learn the lyrics. When I find a song that I like in French, I find the lyrics online and listen to the song over and over until I recognize all the words. If my husband is around, I lip sync to the music (I cannot sing whatsoever), but if he is away I will try and sing along. If there are words that I do not know (which is usually the case) I look them up.
- Read newspapers, periodicals or books in French. This is especially hard if you are an absolute beginner, but take your time. Find at least one article and sit there with your dictionary to learn the words you do not know. I purchased the French version of the book Eat, Pray, Love and compare it to the English version that I have on my Amazon Kindle. I found this easier since sometimes dictionaries do not make sense when you are looking up slang or sayings.
- Buy a workbook to practice French grammar. I have tested many workbooks and one of my favorites is The Ultimate French Review and Practice: Mastering French Grammar for Confident Communication.
- Write a paragraph and have it corrected. If you know someone fluent in French, then ask if you can write a paragraph and have it corrected. I was doing this with my husband once a week and it was excellent practice! I was to write what I did that day and what I plan on doing tomorrow so that I could practice both past and future tenses.
- Mini notebook or flash cards. Whenever I came across a word that I did not know, I entered the word plus its definition into my little mini notebook – think it was about 2 x 3 inches. I then reviewed my mini notebook whenever I was on the bus, tram or even waiting in a long line. For people around me it probably looked like I was going over my shopping list. I know flash cards work for some people, but I found that I kept losing them or they would get destroyed in my purse. The mini notebook was the most inconspicuous way for me to study French while in public.
- Buy Pimsleur French audio series. If you can afford it, I highly recommend purchasing Pimsleur Audio Language Program. It comes in 3 Levels and it is worth the investment! I completed the first level before moving to France and it really helped me with getting around, asking questions and learning vocabulary. I finished Level 2 after I moved here and am ready for Level 3. What I love about it is that you are not just sitting there repeating vocabulary terms. You are really interacting and learning the words and phrases. They build upon each lesson so that nothing is forgotten. I probably learned the most French from this series.
Do you know of any more tips to add to the list? Let me know below…
Image Credit: Môsieur J. on Flickr.com