Many French learners complain about their poor French-speaking skills. Unless you attend a professional French school that uses the communicative language teaching (have you read our post “Tips for finding the perfect French language school”?) you will probably feel that you are not speaking enough in French. Truth is, this is a common issue among language learners everywhere. Never-ending lessons monologue-type in which the students are mere spectators and are not properly encouraged to communicate. Constant repetition, textbook reading, homework and listening to the teacher are the main motto of this approach to teaching.
If that is your case, the first thing you need to do is to find a French language school student-oriented and with the right approach to language teaching. And still, your progress will be much more satisfactory and faster if you practice French also after class. To maximize your learning opportunities in French and making the most out of your time, try practicing these exercises at home or wherever you can. Include French in your daily routines and improve your French speaking skills!
1. Read out loud
Reading out loud is absolutely necessary when learning a foreign language. Have you ever felt weird when speaking in your L2 by the sound of your voice? That is completely normal, the frequencies of each language are different. To feel more comfortable quickly, start reading out loud everything you read in French. Whether a newspaper, your notes of the French lesson, a book…reading out loud is a fantastic exercise to improve your French pronunciation, your prosody and to get used to your new “self” speaking in French.
2. Practice shadowing
What is shadowing? In language learning, shadowing means to repeat words, sentences or dialogues as you hear them. Imagine that you are watching a Youtube video of a French blogger and you start repeating in French what she is saying, right after she says it. Try to imitate the speakers’ pronunciation and intonation. You can practice shadowing when watching a video, a TV show, a movie or simply listening to music.
Find a recording that you like, in which the speaker does not speak too fast. Don’t stress over repeating every single word and if you want to understand everything, find audios or videos with transcriptions included. Shadowing is an extremely useful tool to increase fluency, it will help you improve your accent in French and the ability to be understood. You will also better assimilate grammatical structures and consolidate your vocabulary. They are all advantages!
3. Talk to yourself in French
Yes, you have read it right. You have none to talk in French to and you want to feel no pressure at all? Try talking to yourself in French. Let me give you some examples: while eating your breakfast at home you can explain to yourself what you made, the ingredients you used, how long did it take you to make it, how does it taste…If you are stuck in a traffic jam, you can talk about what you are going to do for the day, what your job is about…the point is for you to incorporate spoken French in your daily routines as much as you can. You will build your confidence speaking in French since there will be none around to hear your mistakes, and you will also improve your responses for casual conversations in French.
4. Watch French game shows
Game shows are a useful tool to improve listening, written comprehension and oral expression in our L2. And let’s admit it, they are incredibly funny. Who cannot yell at the screen when they know the right answer? How not to chide the participants when they give the wrong response? That is what game shows are about. And if your French level is already good enough to catch fast questions, you will improve your listening comprehension and oral expression. Let’s play!
5. Find a language partner
Tired of being a lone wolf? You can always find a language partner and practice your French speaking skills with someone that will correct you and encourage your progress. There are online apps in which you can send informal voice messages and also you can find a peer to meet once or twice a week. No excuses, time to learn French!