4 years ago, I met two girls eager to learn French. They were both studying French at the University and worked equally hard.
Two years later, I met them again in Paris. One spoke French the entire time and even cracked a few jokes while the other spoke English and told me she didn’t feel ready to speak French.
Have you ever wondered why some people quickly learn French while other never seem to succeed?
I have, and after thinking about all the successful and less successful French learners I know, I came to the following conclusion:
Successful French learners don’t simply learn vocabulary, listen to a lot of French and work on their pronunciation, they also do their best to speak French early on.
They accept that mistakes are part of the learning process and use every opportunity they have to speak French and get feedback.
If you want to be successful, but are terrified at the idea of speaking French, here are 5 tips that’ll help you!
#1 Speak French in a reassuring environment
I don’t know about you, but the idea of going to a foreign country and speak a language I’m learning terrifies me.
What if people laugh at me? What if they don’t understand a word I say?
Luckily, you don’t have to wait to be in France to speak French, and you shouldn’t!
The best environment to start speaking French in an environment in which you feel safe, and environment in which you know people aren’t going to laugh you.
For example you could:
- Go to a language exchange meeting and meet language learners like you
- Find a French person learning English
- Speak French with your teacher or tutor
Click here to discover all the different ways to find someone to speak French with.
#2 Start by writing in French
If you feel that speaking French is too scary for now, why not write French instead?
You won’t get all the benefits of speaking, but you’ll still be able to get feedback and learn to use the language.
Here are my favourite websites and tools to practice writing in French and get corrections from native speakers:
- Lang-8: this is a website where you can post your texts in French and get free corrections from native speakers.
- HelloTalk: this app allows you to find people to speak or chat with.
- Interpals: this is the first website I ever used to learn English. You can use it to find a pen pal.
#3 Don’t take mistakes personally
We all make mistakes and that’s okay.
#4 Work on your pronunciation
Lots of French learners learn French from books or from teachers with an awful pronunciation.
As a result, they pronounce French wrong and nobody understands them.
That’s why it’s essential for you to regularly listen to French and to choose a French course which prioritises listening over reading.
Simply doing that will make the difference between not being understood at all and being understood in 90% of situations, but if you want your pronunciation to be absolutely perfect, I recommend you to read 7 French Pronunciation Tips to Avoid Sounding Like a Tourist.
#5 Listen to French everyday
Having a great French accent is good, but you know what’s even better?
Understanding what people say.
To do that, you need to know the fundamental differences between written and spoken French, but you also need to spend lots of time hearing the language.
Listening to French has lots of benefits. You get used to the sounds of the language, improve your pronunciation, learn vocabulary and most of all improve your ability to understand spoken French.
That’s why listening to French everyday is the second rule of French Together.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Watch French TV
- Listen to French podcasts
- Watch French movies and TV series
- Watch French videos on Youtube
- Speak with your conversation partner
Click here to discover why spoken French is so hard to understand and what you can do about it.
#6 Come prepared
Next time you go out, pay attention to what people say.. You’ll quickly realise that some words and sentences come up all the time.
People you meet will ask you where you come from and what your name is.
Sellers will ask you if you want anything else, if you have a loyalty card or if you need help.
Waiters will ask you what you want to order or if you liked the food.
You’ll ask where the nearest subway station is or say you’d like to buy a ticket.
These are predictable situations,
So, before you go to France or talk to your conversation partner for the first time, make sure you learn the most common questions and answers you need to know in these situations.
Now tell me! What scares you the most when it comes to speaking French? Answer in the comments below!