A piece of advice often given to students is that every hour spent in the classroom should be matched with two or three hours of individual study.
This can even jump to five hours if you're studying physics, science or law in secondary-school.
Are those learning French therefore expected to buckle down with a textbook in order to improve their reading, writing, or pronunciation skills?
Think back to what kind of student you were, did you try tirelessly to memorise all of the materials or perhaps you were more laid-back?
There is no issue in taking a more relaxed approach, you may even prefer such a method when learning how to speak French!
Regardless if your French lesson is taken in or outside school, do remember that you have chosen to study it!
So whether you're searching for basic tips and tricks or you're on your way to fluency, Superprof can guide you on creative ways to improve your level of French.
Practice Your French Speaking Any Time, Any Place!
The classic picture of the 'ideal student' always at their desk suggests that in order to master a subject, there is a perfect model for learning.
A quiet space without interruption can certainly be a productive environment to learn a language. However, this is not always practical for students with limited time who are trying to improve their French grammar or vocabulary.
There is a certain rhythm and melody inherent to la langue française, so whether you're en route to class or heading out for a walk, there are many opportunities to practice.
Try this when conjugating verbs - For every step you're about to take when walking, say a pronoun in your head. Then follow through with the verb and sync the conjugating of the verb with the timing of your steps. For example: Je suis, tu es, il est – etc.
Is running a hobby of yours? Imagine how many tenses you could smash through!
What about the guttural R?
Practice this by using the same method above, but replace the conjugation with a sequence of words containing that letter sound: regarder, retrouver, la rentrée etc.
Did you know that at least 20% of English is derived from the French language?
Therefore you may already know various French expressions such as faux pas or hors d'œuvre.
There are however elements which don't quite exist in the English language. Phrases such as "to have the cockroach" or "let us return to our sheep" for example.
Grammatical gender is also a difficulty beginners must grapple with when learning French, as it is a language full of idiosyncrasies.
A typical case of how the French language is used by English speakers:
"Elle avait un certain je-ne-sais-quoi de spécial / She had a special certain je-ne-sais-quoi (I don't know what) about her" could be used for a person you can't quite describe.
Next time you're doing your weekend exercising, you can rehearse your pronunciation by repeating some snappy French expressions.
Have a go at slipping a French phrase into everyday situations or search for French lessons Sydney!
Dedicate Equal Time to Each Language Skill
When learning a new tongue, students often focus on its 'silent' aspects, that is reading and writing, whilst not granting the the oral side of the language the attention it truly deserves.
For those learning French, this can absolutely be the case!
This begs the question, why would a student favour written French whilst neglecting to practice their French speaking?
Perhaps the student is:
- Shy: Many are not comfortable with public speaking
- Fearful: Others may worry about the embarrassment of making a mistake
- Modest: There are those who may not want to boast about their skills
- Not confident: Or some students don't have faith in their conversational abilities
That last reason reveals a catch-22: What do you do if you need confidence to improve your oral skills, but lack the oral skills which would give you confidence to begin with?
A piece of advice often given by some of the best French teachers is to balance each of the four aspects of language learning.
If you devote half an hour to completing a written translation exercise, follow this up with an equal thirty minutes of conversation or listening practice.
But what if there isn't anyone nearby who you can practice your French speaking with?
Find a French class Melbourne and begin improving your conversational and language skills right-away!
Online French Lessons
We are certainly not overlooking online learning platforms such as Rosetta Stone or Babbel, some which are free of charge, and others that are not.
Such programs offer up-to-date content and allow users to practice their skills in a variety of ways, for example through games, quizzes, or flashcards.
However one thing is missing: the speaking opportunities!
The main aim of Babbel and Duolingo is on reading and listening, rather than writing or speaking. Unfortunately these platforms don't allow you to practice your conversation skills with a native speaker!
If you want to learn French, the most effective way to improve your skills is simply to apply them vis-à-vis discussing language and culture with a native Francophone.
In opening up a dialogue, you may even pick up some French slang you that you wouldn't have come across in your French lessons.
Practicing your French in real time also allows you to mimic the sounds and rhythm of the language in a natural conversation, rather than a series of soundbites.
You might now be wondering, where can I find a native French speaker to teach me if I don't know anyone?
Uncover a whole range of French lessons here.
The first Australian Alliance Française was founded in Melbourne in 1809 with the aim of promoting the French language and culture.
There are 30 centres around Australia teaching French courses and hosting a range of cultural events.
Branches can be found in each of the major capital cities, from Melbourne to Sydney, Canberra to Brisbane, and Adelaide to Perth with an additional 24 centres across regional Australia.
Through the Alliance Française, you can experience an immersion into French culture. You might even connect with other likeminded people keen to practice French via Skype!
Tandem is another fantastic online language exchange community where users can match up with other language learners and benefit from peer-to-peer conversation through text messaging, audio and video chatting.
There is also Conversation Exchange, a site where you can connect with native speakers looking to learn a foreign language. You could teach people English for example, while they help you practice your French speaking in a social environment.
Having a partner to regularly chat with as you're learning French allows for the opportunity to improve your pronunciation, and also develop your French vocabulary, grammar and word order skills.
Through such interaction you'll master not only the very basic French greetings, but also new expressions thereby advancing your speaking skills!
By opening up your repertoire to new French words and phrases, you are sure to gain confidence in the language and be on the path to fluency!
Keep in mind that Superprof is closeby, and can assist you anytime to find a local French tutor, whether you are a beginner or are at an advanced level preparing for DELF.
The French accent can take some getting used to. Try familiarising yourself with it through TV or music!
How Else Can the Francophone Immerse Themself?
Besides having a chat in French class or finding free French lessons online, working on listening comprehension can be a challenge.
Countries where French is an official language such as Canada, Switzerland or Belgium each, have a unique take on the so-called Metropolitan French.
If your goal is to speak French like a Parisian, try picking up on language nuance, accent and tone by watching some French television.
Online language courses or face-to-face French lessons are generally adapted to individual learning speeds, whereas French television programs or podcasts can often be fast-paced and pitched at an intermediate level.
Listening to such broadcasts is an excellent way of training your ear to reinforce the words you know in other languages, whilst also discovering the individual meter and timbre.
Podcasts are versatile and usually free, listen to them anytime whilst you're on the go!
A French course is only the start of becoming fluent.
Your work behind the scenes and outside the classroom will undoubtedly improve your skills in a new language more than a textbook.
Discuss this article with your French teacher next time you see them! They may have some further suggestions for original ways of learning French.
If you're curious about the cost of French lessons, have a read up here.