Sunday 18 December 2016

Goal setting: I want to become fluent in...

As a French teacher and owner of 'Voulez-vous parler', I have lost count of the number of people who told me they want to become fluent in French, Spanish etc. It seems to be the phrase to say. But saying you want to become fluent is probably not what you really want. Keep reading.
Set specific goals. Think what you want to use the language for and decide from there. A personal example:

I'm going back to Japan soon. My specific goals are:

1. Be able to ask room/restaurant related questions in hotels, questions at the car rental office.

2. Vocabulary related to: car: 'unleaded petrol', 'can you fill up the car please?' 'Can you clean the windscreen please?' 'Is it possible to check the tyres please?'

3. Fish, meats - to avoid these foods

4. Train/tube/plane questions involving time, numbers, destinations.

5. Health words and phrases:
I'm hurting...I need...Do you have...?
Some medicine/bodypart words

6. Camera/phone words such as: battery, charger. Whatever you might need or what might crash/break.

7. Post office questions: 'do you have stamps for ....?' 'How much does it cost to send this to...?'

Ideally, ask a friend who speaks the language to write these down for you in our alphabet if it's an Asian language, Arabic or Greek, if you don't know the alphabet.

How will I proceed? 
Set a one film a week in the target language as a goal. Or one episode of a series. 'No second chance', an excellent French series adapted from an Harlan Cohen novel, has just arrived on the UK Netflix if you're learning French.

As the trip gets nearer, I will watch more and more Youtube videos in Japanese related to the above, for example, I will type 'bodyparts in Japanese' or 'GPS in Japanese' and will watch them a few times and then onto the next video. This is very important especially the last 2 weeks before going to the country.

I will make lists of words and phrases and will highlight the ones I think I will need the most often, based on my travelling experience.

I will compare my Japanese phrase books  and take the best one for my needs.

About one week before leaving, I will write the list of essentials on one piece of paper, which will be in my pocket at all times. It has proven very efficient in the past. Remember that people rarely speak English in Japan, and if you plan to travel outside of Paris in France, most people's English isn't great.

I do this for all my almost all my foreign holidays. When a situation happens, we have to be quick. By the time you have your phrasebook out and find the phrase or word you need, your interlocutor might be gone or...already fed up with waiting.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Oups, I forgot my French!

Rendez-moi mon français!! (lexique de survie en bas de l'article)
A few years after I arrived in England, working with English speaking colleagues and sharing my life with an English person and his friends, my English was improving fast, but I started losing my French: it was becoming worse and worse, as I was too lazy to take the time to remember or look up the French words for what I wanted to say. After all, my sister and friends understood all my anglicisms. But I did have to make an effort with my parents who spoke no English at all. As I was teaching French in a school at the time and was also a private tutor, I was quite concerned and decided to get my French back on track.
This is how I did it:
  1. Start now. It's not fun, but the sooner the better. You do not want the situation to worsen.
  2. Instead of giving up when you can't remember the word or expression you are looking for, pause for a moment and try to imagine you are talking to someone in France who doesn't speak English. Try to 'move' your brain in France for a few seconds and see if it comes.
  3. If it doesn't come, look it up online or make a note to do it later.
  4. Put a daily reminder in your phone/diary to revise the word or expression.
  5. You can also use post-its in the house.
  6. When it happens again with another word, do not give up, make the effort to think about it for a few seconds, as if you are giving time to the word/idiom to travel back to the forefront of your brain. You will see, you will get better and better.
  7. Do not give up, the longer you have been lazy, the longer it will take to get 'back to normal'; it took me a few weeks. It was a real effort at first, but it became easier as weeks went by.
  8. Do the same for grammar: check rules, ask a friend if not sure of rules (ask me, I love grammar talks;-)
  9. It is worth it. French people especially judge each other's writing, although it is never talked about, we are never impressed by someone who missed 'un accord' (agreement).
  10. You will certainly be rewarded by not having these awkward moments we all have when we have been living in the UK for so long and can't remember a basic word. We all behave as if it is ok to feel better, but is it ok that some French people's grammar is worse than a CM2 (Year 6) pupil?
Merci à tous (et moi-même, ne nous le cachons pas!) de m'avoir inspirée.
I'm also available for French coaching before presentations, meetings etc. I'm a trained teacher (2002) and translator (MA -2000).
Contactez-moi pour une consultation, nous pouvons préparer ensemble votre présentation en français pour éviter les erreurs/blocages lors du jour J.
Lexique de survie:
to take action: passer à l'action
a goal: un but
a challenge: un défi
a deadline: une échéance
boundaries: limites
body language: langage corporel
to chargedemander/faire payer (pas 'charger', par pitié...)
to prioritise: donner priorité à
brainstorming: pareil, mais si vous allez au Québéc, dites: 'remue-méninges'
to design: créer, concevoir, élaborer
Question: quelles sont les expressions ou mots français que dont vous ne vous rappelez jamais?
J'espère que cela vous aura été utile.