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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Advice: Learn French Everyday

Learning French is more than taking classes, more than learning all the little grammatical rules that apply on a daily basis... it's complete and total immersion that's the key.  Living in France alone doesn't always resolve this problem, as social creatures, we tend to group around those we can communicate with... within our expatriate community, our American social group, French people that can speak in English.  Unfortunately in this search for social comforts we tend to lose many great moments when we could learn French!

To fix this problem that I've had in my own discovery of French life (Bri speaks English, and establishing a relationship in one language is difficult to change) I've found some ways to continue my education in my daily life.

Watch French television:  While in the States I was rarely the TV type, here in France I make an effort to turn it on in the morning when drinking coffee.  The commercials are simple, many of the shows were originally American... so it's easier to follow.  Often I'll pop on the subtitles and follow along with the French.  Hearing it first thing in the morning helps to wake up my French thoughts.

Avoid "VO" Movies:  There are Original Versions of films around Lyon, but for me I try to watch the French version; even if these versions resemble a badly dubbed "Kung Fu" movie, I find that I can relate to the movies and understand them- plus it's interesting!

Read French News:  Everywhere on the internet are free news sites in French.  Beyond this, Metros tend to give away free news- read this on the Metro.  Listen to French radio; learn about the things that are going on in France and learn some new phrases!

Practice at the Shops:  Instead of buying bread or veggies or even meat at the Super Marché, go to the Boucheries, the boulanger... all the places where you must practice French phrases and don't be afraid.  The marché is a great place to practice; just be aware that they have clients and not a lot of time to shuffle through bad French; be prepared!

Find a French Social Group:  One of the best ways to practice is to man-up and find some French people to go out with.  You'll be guaranteed to be lost about 50% of the time, and the jokes they might make between each other will make no sense at all and be completely illogical.  Worse, you'll feel like a 5 year old at times.. but in a good group they will be patient.  The best feeling is when you are talking to someone in French and they understand all, even better is when they compliment your french... and you will get there.

Read French Books:  For only 5€ a year you can get a library card that will work around Lyon.  Pick up books that are interesting to hobbies, for me, food.  I read books about gastronomy in France... the French is sometimes complicated, but with a trusty dictionnaire everything is understandable.

Use a French-French Dictionary:  I find a huge Anglophone mistake is to use French-English dictionaries, while these are convenient, they do nothing for learning more French.  It's better to gt a French-French dictionary which will enable you to understand meanings of French words in French; much more effective and will help to stick to the memory and get your brain thinking in French.

Above All... Enjoy it:  French is a challenge, but eventually your brain will click and it will seem to flow naturally.  For me I am able to understand about 90% of what people are saying in daily conversation and speak at about an 80% understandable level.. in the beginning I was weak.  I moved my hands around, I tried to talk... mostly I was afraid to talk.  The best feeling is being able to speak a second language...

After?  Start thinking about learning a third language..



  1. Madame Curie spoke 5 languages fluently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Curie

  2. French school in Nice-
    Yes, French is very important language. It is second spoken language.


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