Many of us discover a common feeling when we learn French in France. You’re in the middle of your French immersion in France and you’ve just mastered a particularly tough bit of grammar, you’re feeling hot on your recent vocab, accent’s improving and you’ve just smashed a lengthy conversation exercise. You’re in the zone. You strut out your French language school with confidence because ‘HEY! You’re practically fluent!’ You decide to reward yourself so you head for a café and order ‘un café et un croissant’.
Then the cashier brings you crashing back down to earth… by asking questions. They want to know which size coffee? To go or takeaway? What flavour croissant? And you’re pretty sure based on the speed that they are talking that they previously worked as a horse race commentator. You respond by simply blurting out the first relevant words you can think of without paying too much mind to word order or whether it should be ’le,la or les’. Then after three goes trying to figure out the price the cashier is saying you just have to look at the digital display. You leave the café without an appetite or a desire to celebrate. I mean, you thought you were doing well!?
A language stay in France – the best way learn French in France
First thing is too relax. Almost all of us who study French in France have felt this way numerous times. It’s what French immersion in France is all about! Ask any teacher the solution and they will uniformly tell you: ‘PRATIQUE, PRATIQUE, PRATIQUE!’ (practice, practice, practice). And bear in mind this… we live in the best time for language learning in human history. You are doing a language stay in France! This is the best way to learn French quickly and efficiently, especially if you choose a well-recognised French language school. You are in the best time and place to learn French and you absolutely have the right mind set if you are reading a blog on how to improve your French learning. So to help you out below you will find a few incredibly useful and fun resources for comprehension for various stages of development. There are plenty more but this is a good start.
Resources for French comprehension
Learn French with TV5monde (French level A1-C2)
This is a wonderful hybrid of a news site and a French language tool but you can find a large portion of the news stories converted into comprehension exercises. Bang up to date and very well made with multiple exercises training your ears in different ways complete with transcriptions (available after attempting the exercises of course). Someone is obviously working very hard to make it possible to learn French whilst simultaneously learning about the world and I for one am extremely grateful. The exercises are split according to grade (A1, A2 etc.) but also arranged into collections such as politics, science or history. It is an innovative way to link French up to your own interests. Are you a film buff studying French as B1? No worries, select the cinema collection under the B1 tab and absorb a ton of knowledge and practice with no effort at all. My favourite is the francophone section, learning the French language through learning about the culture feels like life hack.
Improve your French with RFI Savoirs – Journal en Francais Facile (French level A2 – C2)
Updated every day with a 10 minute news bulletin of the world headlines read at a steady pace, with clear language and a full and accurate transcription. This is a great way of getting your daily dose of what’s going on whilst practicing. They have both scripted bulletins which are easier to follow but read a bit faster and discussions which follow their own rhythm and introduce you to some more colloquial language and sayings.
Study French comprehension with YouTube.com (French level A1-C2)
You all know it and have probably been making use of it already. If used incorrectly YouTube can be the nemesis of studious work, an endless thread to pull on the sweater of procrastination. This site however, holds one of the widest arrays of tools available to people undertaking a French course.
- Films available with subtitles. Watching films is a wonderful way to learn French, it introduces you to things you might not hear in the classroom environment that will give you a fuller view of the French language. It is also subconsciously training your brain to be familiar with the sound patterns.
- Music. YouTube is an important outlet for music of all types and French music is no different. Although you don’t see many with subtitles the lyrics are often easily available online and using these together will super train the sensitivity of your ears as words sung sound different to words said so you are challenged to really listen to the detail of the sounds.
- Audiobooks. Loads of audiobooks available, particularly useful if you have the book in French to read alongside. You can read a chapter then listen to it, vice versa or listen whilst reading. Each technique trains you in a different way so trying all of them is recommended.
So mix it up, challenge yourself while you learn French, keep the ears open but most important be patient and resilient. The sounds will separate, they’ll simplify and slow down but only if you keep on trucking. Bear in mind, the best way to learn French is to take French classes in a French language immersion school in France. You will study French with like-minded, meet people from around the world and have fun. Outside class learning for comprehension is very beneficial to your French progress. See you soon at a French language immersion school in France.