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How I learn French

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How I learn French

It was a daunting task to learn a new language by yourself and then using it and becoming fluent. Having learnt French in school in Singapore for about 1 and a half years I cannot say I am learning French or have learnt French at all because I cannot speak or use the language. Doing it off and on when learning a language as complex as French is definitely not going to work. Thus, doing an immersion in the actual country itself is the solid commitment that I have chosen to make and it has been a ride!

I was in an environment where I am forced to use French to get around, be it asking for directions, getting data, ordering food at the bakery and all the small things in life. My French had to pick up for my life to get easier. Fortunately, I need not do it alone. My classmates and the French lessons that are taught at ILA French language school are full of life and useful information for culture and society of Montpellier and France in general instead of full on grammar as they would do in university or at mainstream schools. The standard French lessons in ILA are not exam geared and that is the biggest factor in helping me improve my French. I revise the grammar and the vocabulary taught at school and me and my classmates also talked about the language struggles and hiccups that we have had during my stay in Montpellier and the mishaps that we accidentally have when we try to use French to speak with the locals and get about with daily life in Montpellier. It was very hard at first to retain all the information but as the days pass, my french do get easier and better. I think that your french need not be perfect in order to understand a novel or watch a movie entirely in French so I went to the cinema to watch movies entirely in french and only understanding 30% of what was being said. I also read Bridgeton in French because the French novels of Bridgeton are much better looking than the English novels and was pleasantly surprised when I can understand the grammar tenses, the vocabulary and the prepositions in the book. All these really helped my French because my exposure to the language increase with each page and each cinema experience. Of course, there were slang used in everyday French that were incomprehensible to beginners like me. But I think the most helpful is to practice every day without fear and watch the French tv networks and do exercises in French.

A classmate of mine also said he practices his French skills by sitting in a café and listening to the conversations around him! I also search up French artists and download popular French songs like Stromae to listen to them for fun. The teachers in class also recommend French comedians and channels that makes learning French feel more alive and real. Rewatching my favorite series on Netflix with French subtitles and dubs has also helped a lot. I had a really enjoyable and light time learning the French language during my immersion course in Montpellier!

I think that it is ordering in a restaurant and giving replies as well as understanding the waiter’s questions is how I can tell how much my French has improved. I take simple pleasures in noticing how my daily runs at the Boulangerie has gone smoother and I practiced my pronunciation of the French words by ordering different items day by day. The word for water was very difficult for me to pronounce but bit by bit, I began to grasp how words and sentences are strung together. I also tried to practice and acquire the French accent because without the French accent, the locals simply switch to English after a few simple attempts at conversing in French.

At first I did not understand the small conversations that the locals have with each other around me or understand what the road and shop signs are saying but as I keep google translating the words that I do not understand, they getting more familiar and easier by the day. There are also many used bookshops everywhere in Montpellier and a friend of mine found a children’s book by a very famous author back in her Switzerland homeland entirely in French for one euro. There are no shortage of ways to learn French in Montpellier and with ILA! I also learned to read the graffiti on the walls and slowly pried their meanings from the words. Every little thing from going to the supermarket, sitting down in a random bus stop, taking a stroll in the gardens of Montpellier or going to visit the museums is an opportunity to pick up some French!