9 ways to strengthen your French conversational skills
Speaking French gives you access to the local culture and traditions. It also enables you to engage with native speakers in ways that are simply not possible through third party translation. It will definitely enhance every experience you encounter in France. That’s why I want to share with you 9 ways to strengthen your French conversational skills.
Table of content :
- Put grammar perfection away
- Immerse yourself with everything French
- Find an online tutor to practice your pronunciation
- Connect to a variety of French speakers
- Master French questions
- Make flashcards for powering through vocabulary
- Learn the real French you’ll not find in a textbook
- Read out loud
- Repetition is essential
Put grammar perfection away...at least at the beginning
Grammar matters in any language, and even more so in French ! But, when you are speaking, the most important thing is that you convey your message. A social situation, for instance, doesn’t always require impeccable grammar. Of course, using the correct tense may have an impact on your communication. However, prioritising fluency over perfection is a good idea.
The more you speak and practise with others, the more perfect your expressions will get organically.
Immerse yourself with everything French
With everything, I not only mean books, apps, movies and podcasts. But you could also change the language on your smartphone and/or computer. This way you level up your learning and get a full French immersion. In addition, connecting language learning with your regular habits is a great way to stay motivated. By adding in a few more minutes of studying every day, you can assimilate new vocabulary.
Find an online tutor to practice your pronunciation
Internet is full of wonderful opportunities to help us learn and practise French.
Indeed, online speaking courses are a great way to improve your ability when you can’t meet a language buddy.
Besides, virtual French classes are very flexible and well-structured. They’re the perfect answer to your busy schedule. And it enables you to refines your skills before you put yourself out there. Communicating with native French speakers will sound a lot more natural then !
Connect to a variety of French speakers
Practicing French at least twice a week is ideal. In addition to a language class, you could find French speakers to converse with. And here, the diversity is essential.
You could grasp street slang from some groups but more formal speech from others. You will gain clear-cut vocabulary in a range of topics :
- talking about work and personal lives ;
- expressing feelings ;
- describing art exhibitions and cultural events ;
- chatting about the weather,..
- gossiping about celebrities ;
For this reason, you should find French language partners either through Meetup, My Language Exchange or on social medias (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Master French questions
Even with an intermediate level, understanding French questions can be a bit tricky. You need to grasp different types of constructions when asking a question : familiar, current and formal language.
To create a more fluid and authentic French conversations, the key is : questions ! And just a few simple French questions can transform a small talk into a nice flowing conversation. My advice : don’t let your anxiety stop you from starting your first dialogue. Dive into the most common questions across a variety of topics and try to answer them quietly at home. If you need help, feel free to practice with your tutor. These dialogues will reshape you into a French conversationalist master !
Make flashcards for powering through vocabulary
Flashcards are one of the most powerful tools for assimilating a new skill. Learning French with flashcards is a great option because it makes the process easy, enjoyable, and helps speed your memorization. This will help you familiarize yourself with the vocabulary :
- You can take your cards with you anywhere and employ them anytime you need ;
- You create an association between the information you use at the card’s front and the answer on the card’s back ;
- With your customisation, this material is attractive to you, which is another way to help recall information. You can use your favorite colors, images and illustrations related to the information on the front side of the card. All these details make them easy to remember.
The learning never stops ! You can also try Notion to organize your French notes and make studying entertaining.
Learn the real French you’ll not find in a textbook
If you want to get your conversational skills to the next level, you need to forget textbooks. Knowing some French slang, colloquialisms, and even a few naughty words will help you build deeper connections !
Indeed, the French language has a lot of idioms. Understanding these expressions with fruits, colors, money or pets will make you sound like a local. My advice : learn idiomatic French and talk like native speakers do every day. Not opting for a traditional textbook will add a layer of cultural immersion and modern dialect-matching.
Read out loud
Unfortunately, French is not a phonetic language. That means we don’t always pronounce the words the same way they are written. Do you know how we pronounce correctly “accueillir” (to welcome) or “un mille-feuille” ? I know this may be a struggle at first but don’t give up. And let’s see the benefits of reading aloud :
- Create muscle memory. The more times that you say a word aloud, the more muscle memory you’re building, making it easier for you to pronounce the word in the future.
- Develop an experience that is memorable for you. Studies show that reading a word, speaking it out loud is the most effective way to memorize new vocabulary. This way, it will be stored in your long-term memory
- Expand your attention skills. The ability to focus, sit still and listen actively are important skills to have. Indeed, the ability to use the imagination is essential to a well developed mind. The good news is that reading aloud provides opportunity to do both !
Repetition is essential
Would you like to converse easily in French? Think of this: how does someone get a good body at the gym? How can you play a musical instrument ? Here is one of the keys: Repetition.
If you think about your native language, how many times, since you were a baby, have you heard the future, past and present tenses? Therefore, if you’d like to feel confident in French, the same rule applies. You have to repeat what you hear countless times.
Everyday, we are exposed to hundreds of images, sounds and emotions. If you were able to take everything in with equal weight you would go crazy !
So, to avoid overload, the brain filter out certain pieces of information. And when you use repetition you are telling the brain that what it is seeing, hearing, or doing is actually important.
Finally, if it’s done correctly you stand a much better chance of converting new information from short term to long term memory.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Should you wish to improve your French fluency, feel free to get in touch today. I’m always ready to support informative speaking.
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