We can all agree that one of the best ways to learn a new language is to be exposed to it as much as possible, right? I’m going to let you in on a little secret: when I moved to Paris as part of my Erasmus experience, I felt as though I had learnt more French within the first 4 months in immersion in France, than I had in over 5 years of learning French in a classroom environment!
That’s how important it is to surround yourself with the French language consistently. However, it is obviously not possible for everyone to just pack their bags and move to a French speaking country. So how can you add French to your daily routine so that you are having at least a little bit of language exposure every day?
I have put together 5 fun ways to immerse yourself in the French language (outside of a classroom setting).Take a look:
Count in French
Whenever you go up some stairs, or are walking, try to count in French. Count the stairs, count your steps, count the trees… If you are more advanced, start counting on a weird number. Like 3.987… Pourquoi pas !!
Listen to some French daily
Listening to some French every day is an effective way to keep you in touch with the language. I would recommend starting with French audiobooks because you can find audiobooks that are written and recorded for your level (FrenchToday has fun audiobooks for French beginners) and if you need to, you may follow the audio along with the script – and check the English translation.
Most (if not all) people have difficulties understanding French aurally at first- I want to reassure you that this is completely normal. However, or learn French efficiently listening to French is the way to go: reading only is not going to give you the correct French pronunciation (even less so the modern French pronunciation) which you need to speak and understand French.
So, when you’re driving, going to the gym, or walking your dog… Or at lunchtime… whenever you have a moment, try to listen to something in French. And repeat. Repetition is the key!
You can also take advantage of French podcasts – you may have to try and test which ones resonate with you. News in Slow French may be a good one to start with.
When you are at a more advanced level you may want to try listening to radio in French. The language will be more complex and the speed of the speech will of course be more rapid.
Even 10 minutes a day of listening to some French will make a difference.
Keep a French journal or diary
Keeping a journal or diary in French is a fun way to practice your French writing. You can take a few minutes every day to write down your thoughts and your feelings in French.
What did you do during the day or what are you planning to do? What are your goals and dreams? Did you learn something new?
If you are a beginner you will be constructing very basic phrases at first. You may need to use a dictionary to look up some words. This is fine as you are building your vocabulary. Can you use different tenses in your writing? Can you use the French subjunctive? Remember practice makes perfect!
Discover some French music artists
Listening to French songs is a fun way to learn some new French words and phrases. Some popular French modern artists at the moment for example are Stromae, Vitaa and Kendji Girac (but this will all depend on your music tastes).
The key to actually gaining something out of listening to music in French is to work with the lyrics. I used to print them on paper and look up any words I was unfamiliar with. Then I would sing along with them. Even if you pick up only a word here and there you are still gaining knowledge!
Read something every day in French
I would encourage you to add a bit of French reading to your daily routine. Why not read something over breakfast? It doesn’t have to be long. Because everyone is at different levels, what you can read will vary. Beginners may need to start with extracts from a French textbook.
More advanced learners may want to try reading blog posts in French or even the news. Exploring the world of French bloggers might be worth a shot. There are various French bloggers who write about travels, fashion, food and dozens of other topics. Here are some of my favorites:
Because these blogs are about such diverse topics, you will certainly be learning new words!
Try to THINK in French
When you have a spare few moments every day try to think in French. Say you are on the bus – can you think of the French word for things that you see? A tree? A traffic light? A bakery? Or when you are cooking – can you name all the names of food in French or label the items in your kitchen?
Sometimes I still do this myself – I ask myself “now how would I say that in French?” and if I don’t know, I make a note to find out and look it up when I have some time. It works!
What about you? What do you do to stay in touch with the French language?