~Pôilane bakery in Paris is one of my favorite French IG feeds to follow and this image is precisely why. Along with their stunning pics of the boulangerie artistry they craft, you learn something about the French culture as well. “We love the idea of giving thanks by breaking bread with those dear to us (The origin of the word copain – friend in French – is derived from this…).” And yes, you can order this turkey topped sourdough round for your Thanksgiving this year or next. Visit their site here.~
As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, I am diving back into my French language studies as the past two months found me paying more time to the blog and the relaunch, and excited to continue to make the gradual progress that does indeed improve my French over time.
The funny and relieving truth about learning a new language, and in this case French, is that you do begin to learn it and become able to understand and gradually speak it with ease. This occurs often in moments when you surprise yourself and upon doing so, make yourself smile with a sense of accomplishment.
And so when I returned to the French conversation group last week, sitting down with three native French speakers and three American well-spoken French-speaking Francophiles over a baguette, three different cheeses and two bottles of wine, I may not have spoken much, but I was elated to have more time to devote to the language learning process.
As I have shared my journey over the past year, I am reminded that every learner is different, and that this realization has as well brought me much relief and renewed confidence.
Today, I’d like to share five learning strategies that have and are working for me as my tale as a student continues.
1. Memorize simple phrases
While memorizing vocabulary is vital, American expat blogger living in France reminded in her recent post that translating in our minds from English (while understandable) is often a crutch that gets in our way. And as a way to help the language become more habituated, try to memorize basic phrases to begin the process of “knowing on the spot” how to respond to a basic conversation in your new language. A wonderful list of basic words and phrases for introduction and common phrases here.
2. Internalize a common introductory conversation
What are common questions you ask or are asked when you meet new people? Memorize a basic back and forth so that it becomes internalized and automatic. First practice on your own (or perhaps with your dog or cat), and then drop in to your local French conversation Meet-Up and feel comfortable introducing yourself. Click here for a transcript of what to practice or watch the video below to hear the words spoken.
3. Memorize vocabulary in your field and way of life
Do you love to cook? Are you an engineer? Take a moment and curate a vocabulary list (or perhaps find one ready-made online) of common vocabulary terms used in your profession and hobbies. After all, you understand the basic sentence construction and basic verb conjugations, now you simply need to add content that is pertinent to your way of life.
4. Keep a French journal
Exactly what you keep in the journal is up to you, but when I first began my journal it was a place to write down a new French word a day. I would list the date I discovered the word (typically something I knew would be helpful or something I would want to use), the word and the English translation. It is a beautiful reminder of how far I’ve come when I look back at the first few words and realize I have committed these words to memory already.
5. Watch French films
I’ve suggested this idea before, but I have found myself enjoying the French films far more as I pick up more and more phrases and vocabulary, thus enabling me not to view the subtitles and truly watch the film. Recent films I have watched have been shared in the podcast’s weekly Petit Plaisir: episode #131, #130,#106 and #40 and one of my favorites “A Five Star Life“.
More learning tools are sure to be discovered as I continue to improve my French, but a significant comfort is realized when there isn’t a doubt in my mind I will continue to try, attempt, mispronounce and then try again because of my fondness for the culture and the language. Thank you for joining me and à la prochaine!
~View more French Inspired posts here.