I’ve reached a plateau, I’m frustrated
How do I improve my French?
You’re frustrated with your speaking
• If you want to improve your speaking, you have to speak regularly even to… yourself. Sing French songs, find or write the lyrics (listening practice) and then sing!
• Speak French to your family and friends, even if they don’t understand everything, you practice and develop habits, create automatisms and reinforce your vocabulary with the repetition.
• Repetition and regularity is everything
Liste de mots et phrases utiles (to carry with you at all times in your pocket/phone/ipad to revise in the tube/train/bus)
• C’est pas grave: it doesn’t matter
• Je lui ai dit: I told him
• Je suis perdu, où est…? I’m lost, where is…?
• Vous avez le même en rouge? Do you have the same in red?
• 70: soixante-dix, 71: soixante-et-onze…
• 80: quatre-vingt, 81: quatre-vingt-un…
90: quatre-vingt-dix, 91: quatre-vingt-onze…
How to practice the 4 skills of listening, writing, reading and speaking?
• Find friends on websites such as: conversationexchange.com and polyglotclub.com and start talking either with tools such as Skype or in writing, exchanging messages. Ideally both, writing is likely to become boring in time and live conversation are fun and don’t have to last too long.
Immersion in the UK
• To be immersed and speak French, go to Franglish events, (www.london.franglish.eu), Euroclub, French exhibitions, French events for Bastille day (14 juillet), Fête de la musique (21 juin) or Galette des rois (janvier). You will be exposed to French traditions, people, sounds, music, food. One learns better when learning is linked to pleasure, such as enjoying your food and wine!
Things to do on a regular basis
• Go on holiday to a French-speaking country: France, the French speaking part of Belgium, Luxembourg, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal, Mauritius, Guyana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Québec.
• Visit places where you will hear, see, listen to French in London:
• The French bookshops in South Kensington, the French Institute, become a member of its médiathèque, borrow books, DVDs, CDs, attend conferences, go to the Cinéma Lumière’s Q&As.
Practice: Don’t be scared - What’s the worst that can happen? A funny mistake…
• Make mistakes, this is how we improve
• Ask to be corrected
• It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything you read and hear, you will understand more and more in time. There will be some ‘Eureka’ moments. Never hesitate to ask what something means, people are happy to help and will be delighted you’re making an effort to speak to themJ
Things to do regularly
• Listen and talk to French people in the tube
• Read the news
• Listen to the French radio: France Inter, Europe 1, French radio London, France Culture, RFI www.rfi.fr.
• For fun and practice, repeat what the presenter says. And if you listen to podcasts, you can go back several times to try to understand what the person said, this is a typical language lab exercise at university.
• Find an excuse to speak French in the UK, ask the time, directions, there are 500,000 French people in London, and that’s without counting the other francophones!
The key to progression and fun: mix learning with pleasure
• Taste and learn more about food and drink
Read about what you like in French
• Vous aimez cuisiner? Faites des recettes françaises
Vous aimez jardiner?
• Read about gardening in French
Vous aimez le cinéma?
• Lisez des articles sur vos acteurs préférés
Vous adorez les biographies?
• Lisez-les en français
For listening practice
• Youtube channels to follow:
• Cynthia Dulude, for beauty/make-up tips in québécois French
• Jardinjardinier, to discover famous and non-famous French gardens
• A video about cuisine with subtitles (sous-titres)
A few more tips
• Try to read bilingual books, with the page translated in English on the left.
• You can write French words/expressions you want to remember on post-its you place in strategic positions in your house (www.flash-sticks.com).
• Some phone apps are great to learn new vocabulary (Duolingo).
Never underestimate grammar
• It’s the skeleton of a language
• And the clothes are the vocabulary.
• You might get by without grammar and verbs for simple things such as shopping, but it will be more difficult for a conversation with the police, customs, plumber or doctor.
• Watch the news, it’s easier as you will know some of the world’s news already in your native language
• Some channels:
• France 2
• France 3 (all the local news at lunch time and 6pm GMT)
A few websites :
http://www.institut-francais.org.uk/cine-lumiere/ French cinema in South Kensington
www.franceinlondon.com francophone events, search by genre
www.cercles.alliancefrançaise.org.uk Local events organized by the Alliance française in 34 UK towns
www.ifecosse.org.uk the Edinburg branch of the French Institute
Blogs in French
· solinecuisine.unblog.fr/ Facebook: Soline cuisine
• If you can, it’s useful to have a teacher to encourage you and remind you of doing these things we have talked about.
• Tips if you have a tutor:
• Don’t be scared to say what you want to do/change in the lessons, if you feel you do too much of one activity and not enough of another.
More on tuition
• Ask for books, methods, music, event recommendations. Some tutors might lend you films, magazines, books, bring you food from France.
Learning in a group is cheaper, very social, but the risk is that the level will be too advanced or too basic. And if you’re shy, you’ll never speak.
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