10 Creative Habits to Help Improve Your French
The following are all habits, which I personally enjoy, to help improve your french They’re small, but I’ve found them immensely helpful. I’m not a language expert, but I do know that continued practice is crucial. Keeping your mind engaged will help you be a better French speaker and listener. I feel like I am forever trying to learn and improve my French. Am I fluent? No. Not even close. I struggle with speaking and understanding every day conversational French. The textbooks just don’t teach slang. Regardless, I try to engage or practice something French at least once a day. My biggest fear is losing the skills I’ve worked hard to build over the years. Since taking a French class is neither in my time nor my financial budget at the present, I try to find feasible creative habits to keep my mind exercising its French tongue.
Listen to Little French Songs
Edith Pilaf is a timeless treasure, but there’s an abundance great contemporary French music out there. Louane. Christophe Mae. Booba. Camille. Music streaming applications like Spotify or Apple Music make it incredibly easy to find popular new artists.
If you don’t have a music streaming service, tap into the internet. Major French online retail websites, like FNAC, feature all the top-selling new popular music.
Lastly, pin, pin, pin it! Pinterest is a great spot to discover new artists as well!
Be a Groupie
Okay. Maybe don’t be a groupie, but DO go to French music concerts in your area. The Alliances Françaises is a wonderful resource for this. The Alliance Française of Boston is constantly holding, sponsoring, or promoting French musical performances of every variety in the local area. I discovered that Carla Bruni would be performing in Boston because of such promotion.
Go Window Shopping
Monoprix is a major French retail chain. It’s essentially France’s version of Target. It’s spectacular. Whenever I have a few minutes to spare, I’ll peruse their website and window shop the departments just to retain some of the vocabulary and phrases. This also helps refresh any words I may have forgotten or phrases that I was using incorrectly, such as ‘soin du ligne’, which roughly translates to ‘laundry care’.
Maybe that seems like an unnecessary phrase to know right this second, but if you are renting an apartment in Paris for any amount of time in the future, it could be important. One never knows!
Hold Your Own French Film Festival
Video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all offer a variety of French films in their streaming lineups, and I take full advantage. On many platforms, you can even rent, buy, and download movies, which I love to do for my hour-long train commute to and from the office. This is far better than listening to the person sitting next to you snore for fifty-six minutes!
Add a Pinch of Language and a Dash of Commitment
All those cooking videos floating around social media these days are entertaining if you are a gourmand, but in French they add even more value. These are helpful in building food-based vocabulary. In most, the ingredients are shown alongside the French caption, so when you see poivre captioned with a little bowl of pepper, you know it’s referring to the spice.
Plus, you might learn some great French recipes!
Alexa, Où Est Le Meilleur Resto Français?
Utilizing every day modern technologies can hugely advance language speaking skills, especially if they are programmed with intelligent personal assistant (IPA) software. You might be familiar with some of the more popular IPAs, such as Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa. Setting your IPA language to French is a challenging exercise, but it is definitely advantageous! The more you speak, the more you practice. The more you practice, the more you improve- even if you are just looking for a good place for French takeout.
Make French a Family Affair
Un. Deux. Trois. Almost every morning, Petit Garçon and I count the stairs as we go down for breakfast. This routine makes him smile. The fun doesn’t stop there! I try to engage him in various French cultural activities. We sing, cook, watch French cartoons, and read French stories.
First, and most importantly, this is a unique way for us to bond. Second, I’m exposing Petit Garçon to language and culture at an early age, which is proven to be beneficial in early childhood development. As an added personal bonus, involving Petit Garçon keeps me accountable for sharpening my own French skills since this aspect of his intellectual development largely depends on my participation.
Let Mittens and Fido Be Your Audience
Same with Pets. Engage them. My two kitties are the best audience. They don’t care when I stutter or stumble on a word, and I get to practice speaking without feeling insecure.
They are cats, so I’m sure they are probably judging me a little. As long as I pump them full of catnip crunchies, they will at least listen and humor their human for a few minutes!
Tap into Community Resources
Recently, I learned that my local library holds a French conversation group once a month for an hour. The group is open to anyone at any level for free. Native speakers and beginners congregate to make friends and simply celebrate French. Just before the monthly meeting, we receive an email from the group organizer about the topic, so we can prepare the chat. This is a great way to practice your speaking skills in an amicable environment.
Admittedly, this is one that I don’t get to do too often because of my work schedule, but I love getting the emails, which are always entirely in French. Not every community will offer this, but perhaps you could start your own French conversational group in your town or city!
Take the Time to Listen to Yourself
One of the best experiences during my French language journey was in a phonetics lab at the Sorbonne University in Paris. This was the first time I’d actually heard myself speaking French, and I butchered 90% percent of my sentences. It was a sobering moment. In my head, I thought I spoke well. My instructors certainly corrected my verbal blips. In the phonetics lab, students recited a sentence into a microphone, which was recorded for playback. This exercise made me realize I needed to really practice things like R-sounds and les voyelles nasales.
Keeping that experience in mind, I use my smartphone’s voice memo tool to do the same thing. I’ll speak, record, and listen. Wherever I am, this is an accessible, quick, and easy exercise that helps with pronunciation.
Do You Have a Minute?
Practice doesn’t necessarily require hours of time. A few minutes of commitment every day will make a difference, you’ll see!
What are some of your own habits and techniques to improve your French? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!
À la prochaine.
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