Learn and Improve your French
With the exception of a couple of accents, there’s one word that is shared in both French and English that sums up the learning experience: perseverance.
However, “perseverance” doesn’t work alone and there’s a huge range of learning options, regardless of whether you are starting from scratch or wanting to improve your French language skills. You may decide to take an immersion course away from home, have private or group lessons, learn online, listen to audio and read at home, or have classes via Skype or Zoom.
Learning with audio, for instance, means that you can improve your spoken word any time, any place and anywhere, just don’t gesticulate too much if you are behind the wheel of a car! Listening and repeating is a valuable learning experience for both confidence, intonation and diction. Covering everything from education and food to politics, some audio programmes also give you a breather between lessons by providing useful information about French customs and everyday life.
Total immersion courses can take you from Bonjour to Au Revoir, and a whole conversation in between, in super quick time. They are often combined with practical sessions on cooking, wine and art, etc., so they combine an interest as well as a constant infusion of vocabulary. Or why not take a true French holiday, living with a family and speaking nothing but French – it’s not as daunting as it sounds, promise!
Class Environments can Help to Learn and Improve Your French
Didier Laur, Directeur de Langues Immersion Pro, highlights why a class environment works so well.
“As an FSL (French as a Second Language) teacher”, he comments “I usually teach French to British and Dutch students each week, in small groups of between 3 and 6. The number of students is important as it ensures that everyone can speak as much as possible.
“During the restrictions my students decided not to have lessons online as they felt they would miss the camaraderie that comes with working together. As a class they encourage each other to overcome shyness and speak out, learning from each other’s mistakes and helping each other out when they are struggling and don’t understand my weird French humour.
“That’s the beauty of a class environment”, he continues. “It becomes much more of a conversational lesson, with each student having input and able to ask questions that, perhaps, some of the others were thinking but didn’t want to ask. Sometimes it might extend to a refreshing drink at the bar or lunch al fresco to make it an all-round learning experience.”
Didier concludes, “So, whilst we are on a break, they have been set tasks which I would urge everyone who wants to learn French to follow. Stay home and read French books or online French newspapers, watch French TV programmes, films or TV-series (with subtitles in your mother-tongue or even better in French if you are not a complete beginner.)
“With reference to French TV series, I have to admit that most of them are pretty bad but I could, however, recommend three of them: “Le bureau des legends” (The Bureau), “Baron noir” (Republican Gangsters) and “10%” (Call my agent). Enjoy them whilst learning French.”
Online with Skype
Claire Campbell, an experienced French language teacher, explains why Skype offers such a positive learning experience.
“For years we have welcomed students from all over the world, particularly the USA, at our residential courses. Once they return home, they often want to continue with their learning and Skype offers an ideal method by which they can hear, speak and, even more importantly, ask questions.”
She adds, “Learning online can be a solitary experience, with no immediate feedback. In my view, one of the great things about Skype is that when students come across something they just can’t understand, they can have a clear explanation in English. In addition, their accents or misuse of words and grammar can be corrected there and then without picking up bad habits that can be hard to correct at a later stage.
“It’s almost the same as having a private lesson although we may be hundreds of miles apart.”
First published in the May/June 2020 issue of The Local Buzz