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BEST TIPS ON LEARNING FRENCH
We would like to offer a few suggestions we hope you will find useful and interesting. When learning a foreign language, we know that it can be exciting, motivating, rewarding and fun but inevitably, at times, it can also be discouraging, frustrating and difficult - it is a bit like a roller coaster. Don't worry, these are perfectly normal feelings and they are part of the language learning process so try to be patient, don't be too hard on yourself and even if you're at a stage where you feel that you are not moving ahead, you are still learning and progressing!
And now some tips :
(they are taken from an article we wrote for our e-magazine:
French Accent Magazine.)
1) Repetition: Don't worry if you've heard the same word 10 times or more and still cannot remember it. You will notice that some words will come easily to you and others not. There is nothing wrong with repetition. You will need a lot. It's normal. Repetition is an important element in acquiring a foreign language.
2) Listening: Any linguistic expert will tell you that you need hundreds of hours of listening to develop your comprehension. Your ear needs to be trained to recognize the new sounds of this language. The web is a wonderful resource where you can find many interesting audio links such as:
RFI (Radio France internationale)
This website provides audio links to short news stories in français facile (easy French)
Another site offering videos of news stories, in French. Good for intermediates but also for beginners
A good website with many activities (videos, songs, etc.) adapted to the level of every student
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If you live in a French speaking country, watch French TV and listen to French radio stations! TV is not as bad as you think. Many students have a negative attitude toward French TV – sure it lacks interesting programmes, but there are a few good ones. You just need to find the one which appeals to you. But what you can do is at least listen to the weather forecast, the adverts (the adverts are very short stories and you will hear lots of repetition in each one) as well as in the cartoons and travel programmes. You can learn a lot from these various media sources! They can be a wonderful learning tool.
3) Read the local ads and newspaper: Challenge yourself with some reading and observe the sentences constructions. It doesn't matter if you just understand a small percentage of it, but what's interesting is analysing the word order, the tenses being used, the genders of the words, etc…
4) Let the salesmen speak to you :-): If you live in France , you will most definitely receive a few phone calls on a weekly basis from a company trying to sell a product. I remember speaking with a student who made me laugh when she told me: “I love it when a salesman calls me! I see it as an opportunity to learn French!” She is right… The salesmen want to sell, therefore, they will more likely be patient and pleasant over the phone.
5) Go to the local stores, attend fairs and festivals, and also use the local services, etc:
Many foreigners hesitate to go to the hairdresser, for example. Some even wait for their holiday in England or elsewhere to get a haircut! This is too bad, as chatting a little with the hairdresser may be an excellent way to learn a few typical French expressions. Again these people are usually friendly, and they want to please their customers. There is no reason why it shouldn't go well. And they will also probably even pay more attention to make sure that your hairstyle is exactly what you hope because their reputation is at stake! Usually they will show you pictures of various hair styles from among which you can chose. You will see, this might be a fun experience, and you will want to go back!
6) Don't worry about annoying, insulting or embarrassing anyone: If you start your conversations by saying that your français n'est pas très bon, je suis désolé , then you've warned them and you should feel more confident in speaking. The French will appreciate the fact that you are trying and will most likely help you. At school, we learn the correct usage of the “ vous ” and the “ tu ” forms and how we always have to be very respectful when speaking in French. The French are very tolerant when these often unspoken rules are broken by foreigners – you are allowed to make mistakes… as long as you add the words such as “ pardon, je suis désolée, excusez-moi, s'il vous plaît, merci beaucoup, etc… ”, you're safe!
These tips can be all very helpful, but most importantly; don't be afraid to speak and to involve the French you meet in your language learning!
While speaking to a French person, ask him or her if your sentence is correct? (elle est juste ma phrase?) Did you use the right tense? (est-ce que le temps est juste)? Is this word feminine or masculine (c'est féminin ou masculin?) ? What is this called (Ca s'appelle comment ça)? How do you say this? (comment vous dites ça?) etc. Involve others in your French learning experience!
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And, if you are planning on moving to France or you've already moved, and you wish to make some new friends, I can suggest organising an apéritif ! The French will most likely respond positively to your invitation. The word aperitif always brings out a positive note and ambiance. Or you can even invite them to an apéritif dînatoire which is in fashion. It's a buffet along with drinks. Don't hesitate to prepare food from your own country. It will be exotic, amusing and appealing for the French to try, especially since the most important party subject for the French is food !