A Guide to Practicing French Outside the Classroom (French version available)
“A little ‘bonjour’ goes a long way,” says the main character in the hit TV show Emily in Paris. And she does have a point. A little knowledge of the French language itself goes a long way too. Not only because French is on trend right now and is known to be a language of culture, but mostly because of its practical use.
After all, French is one of the two official languages in Canada, and if you’ve got your heart set in applying for a job in the government, a substantial knowledge of the French language is a huge advantage.
If your goal is to hit the international market after your post-secondary studies, you’ll reap benefits knowing French. Why? Well, as it turns out, French is the second-most widely learned foreign language after English, and the fifth-most widely spoken language in the world. In fact, more than 300 million people speak French across five continents.
Now you may have started your French classes, but there are ways to amp up your knowledge outside the classroom. Read on for a practical guide to learning French.
Watch French movies with French subtitles.
With all the streaming services available these days, both free and through paid subscription, it’s easy to come across French TV series and films. Normally, when we watch these, we turn on the English subtitles so we can follow the dialogue in the language that we’re familiar with. However, if you’re truly serious about learning French, a pro tip is to turn on the subtitles, all right – but the French subtitles, not English. Through this, you’ll have a good idea of what’s being said and how it’s being said… in French! It could be challenging at first, but eventually if you do this often enough, you’ll realize that you probably don’t have to go back to turning on the English translation when watching French cinema or programs anymore.
Listen to French podcasts.
A tricky thing about the French language is that how it sounds like is most often different from how it’s spelled. It’s certainly not English where you can probably have a go at the spelling by hearing how it’s said. Therefore, when learning French, you must step up your listening skills. Getting accustomed to how the words sound is truly helpful for you to figure out how they’re written. And the best way to do this is to tune in to French radio or podcasts. Training your ears to how the French language sounds will truly improve your French.
Join French conversation circles.
French conversation circles provide a safe space for you to speak French with fellow learners. Through these, you’re able to receive the support and encouragement you need to speak French with confidence, while at the same time, learn your areas for improvement. This is an effective way to apply what you’re learning and inspire you to practice. Public libraries often have these available for all age groups and you can easily sign up without fees involved. Next time you visit a library, go ahead and ask away!
Listen to French songs or French radio.
You may not know the entire lyrics, but French music typically has great melodies anyone would love. Listening to French tunes will help you familiarize yourself with the words, while at the same time, enjoy yourself. There are plenty of French music artists who have gained international fame, and their catalog is easily accessible through music streaming apps like Spotify or SoundCloud. Try to listen to a French tune now, and most likely, you’ll find yourself humming to it in no time.
The above are useful pointers to build up your French knowledge outside of the classroom. Which tip do you think will work best for you?
Do you want to practice right now? Click the red “En Franćais” button at the top of this page to read the French version of this article. Open it in another window to read the English and French versions side-by-side. Bonne chance!
Alpine French School. “Great ways to practice outside your French lesson.” https://alpinefrenchschool.com/blog/great-ways-to-practice-outside-your-french-lesson/.
France Diplomacy. “10 good reasons to learn French.” https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/studying-in-france/learning-french/article/10-good-reasons-for-learning.
Haslett, Jamie. “Practicing French… Outside the Classroom.” French Cultural Center. https://frenchculturalcenter.org/2018/10/15/practicing-frenchoutside-the-classroom/.
Lawless French. “Daily Practice Ideas.” https://www.lawlessfrench.com/learn-french/daily-practice-ideas/.