I live in Canada and although Canada is a bilingual country, I have yet to hear anyone outside of Quebec speak French. I live in an anglophone society and learning another language when all I hear is English is proving to be challenging.
Living in Canada does have its percs though…3 Francophone television channels (emissions de television), bilingual signage and all product labels are bilingual (although Quebecois not France, French).
Taking French lessons once a week really helps me learn the structure and basics of the language but one hour a week is not that much. When I get to France I will be speaking it 24/7! Having a French boyfriend helps as well, but he insists on speaking English while in Canada.
So as my time to fly over that big blue ocean is approaching very fast (très rapide), I have no choice but to get creative with my learning!
Here are some great ideas to learn the language très rapide:
- Watch at least one French television program a day. I just flip my TV on to TV5 (channel 130 where I live) and spend an hour watching. But I do not simply watch passively! I watch with closed captioning (sous-titrage) and repeat after them. And I am not picky in what I watch. The goal is to learn!
- Watch French movies without sub-titles. The movies are generally very entertaining and fun to hear people speaking in French. It becomes a nice challenge when I have to figure out what is going on. It would be awesome for closed captioning to play on everyone’s shirts as they speak but not the reality so I might as well train myself now! Here are two movies you must see: “Le Fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poulain” and (et) “L’auberge espagnole”.
- Begin writing your important documents and letters in French and get them corrected. I have written my visa cover letter in French and a letter to a French organization. My boyfriend corrects them with me and I learn a TON from it! Soon I will be writing letters to find a job and an apartment so its great practice!
- Start writing short little assignments and get them corrected by a French person. I have written 200 words on why I want to move to France and the role sports play in my life. I learn a lot of vocab this way!
- Read popular novel with a dictionary in hand, of course. You most likely won’t be able to translate it word for word but you will get the general story. Compare the French version with the English version to understand how the French language is different from English. After 5 or 6 chapters you will be surprised as to how many words you no longer need to translate! Here are two books with an English version available: “Le Petit Prince” et “L’Alchemiste“.
- Find some French people and start having conversations even if it just via Skype. Conversation is probably the most important thing one can do to learn the language.
I hope this gives you a few great ideas to make your learning of French a whole lot easier!