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I'm heading into my 9th month living in France, working a job where all I use is english (it's the business language), living with my man who is fluent in english, socialising - even doing French activities - where everyone speaks with me in english.

A bit of 'bakery French' is all I've honestly needed to-date. My reading and comprehension is getting better - we watch movies in French, one of my activities is instructed in French but helpfully very visual. While I have been taking lessons all this time, using it in the real world and even just injecting more French into my everyday is proving more difficult than I expected.

What do you do?

Have tried post-it notes, the 'speak French with the man' thing, but I'm so basic level-wise, it quickly becomes tedious for us both. Even at tandems/meetups, I'm always the lowest-level French speaker there, and so people quickly want to test out their english with me instead.
 

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As we enter the summer vacation period, you have a good two months to come up with some new ideas because honestly nothing much happens in France over the summer.

But, come September, you should join an association (check out any Forums des Associations in your area during the first two weekends in September) or a club or sign up for some activity. It can be the Photography Club or one of the sports groups in town or the theater troupe or a choir - just something where you will have to use your French. (And sign up for it on your own - not with your partner. This is your thing.) Pick something you like, because that gives you the motivation to work your way through things and it will give you vocabulary you'll actually use. The key thing is to have fun, meet people, and tell them you're trying to push yourself in French.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I'm heading into my 9th month living in France, working a job where all I use is english (it's the business language), living with my man who is fluent in english, socialising - even doing French activities - where everyone speaks with me in english.

A bit of 'bakery French' is all I've honestly needed to-date. My reading and comprehension is getting better - we watch movies in French, one of my activities is instructed in French but helpfully very visual. While I have been taking lessons all this time, using it in the real world and even just injecting more French into my everyday is proving more difficult than I expected.

What do you do?

Have tried post-it notes, the 'speak French with the man' thing, but I'm so basic level-wise, it quickly becomes tedious for us both. Even at tandems/meetups, I'm always the lowest-level French speaker there, and so people quickly want to test out their english with me instead.
Self-disciplines is a must in your situation, which is not very conducive to learning French. Set aside some time each day where you only speak French with your partner (no matter how painful) and, when you do meet-ups or similar activities (preferably without your partner) let people know that your aim is to practice French and insist that they give you your share of time to practice.

Totally agree with Bev, get involved in an association - but be careful given so many people in Strasbourg speak English, that you insist on doing as much as possible during the activity/ies in French. Oh, and definitely ensure you take/keep up with French lessons as, in your situation, it's one activity where you will have to focus on French.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Self-disciplines is a must in your situation, which is not very conducive to learning French. Set aside some time each day where you only speak French with your partner (no matter how painful) and, when you do meet-ups or similar activities (preferably without your partner) let people know that your aim is to practice French and insist that they give you your share of time to practice.

Totally agree with Bev, get involved in an association - but be careful given so many people in Strasbourg speak English, that you insist on doing as much as possible during the activity/ies in French. Oh, and definitely ensure you take/keep up with French lessons as, in your situation, it's one activity where you will have to focus on French.
Thanks, I do Jiu Jitsu at the same club as my partner (all in French), but also go to a boxing class solo, which I have also found great for helping with my comprehension. Not a lot of talking needed though when you're exercising so, yes an association that's more interactive seems like a good idea!!

I joined the local international girls group when I got here which has been a godsend for my social life, but that's all in english so not helpful. Meetups are without my partner, I'll persevere there, maybe a few more beers needed along with the insistence.

I have a tutor once a week for the Summer, will go into A2 classes come September, so my class teacher told her to get me ready for that, but mostly focus on speaking with me, fingers crossed I find my voice soon!
 

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I understand entirely! Years ago I spent a year in Munich in an English speaking office. The hotels, restos, taxi drivers etc all spoke good English. What German I did learn soon disappeared from my tiny brain. Sad to say now I only remember German swear words.....language and emotion etc!

As others have suggested you must have a plan!

1. On arriving in France I had Dutch neighbours.....we set a limit of 5 mins of French only....very painful at first, then 10 mins etc. I found it a very good discipline.

2. Insist on talking French wherever you go, even if it slows things up. I have some medical problems and doctors and nurses LOVE to practice their English on me. I insist on talking French, if only to learn the French medical terms. At the supermarket ask simple questions,even if you know the answer, to the cashier. Some cashiers are better than others.

3. When you count anything, count in French.....spoonsful, tape measure etc. If alone count out loud. When you see a car number plate read it out loud in French ...good for j and g ! Try to make a phrase in French from the letters in the plate. Example. "NAB"....nous adorons Bev. Try adding up the numbers in the plate.....deux plus cinq fait sept. Personally I've found learning French easier when I HAVE to , rather than in a language school classroom.

4. Find newspaper articles, books In FRENCH that interest you. It's easier reading something you like than a language school standard text.

5. Set you phone,computer, tv etc to "lang= french". Not a great educational experience, but every little helps?

6. probably impossible for you....but try to avoid English. When I was learning French I found speaking English knocked back my level of French....or perhaps it's just the limited capacity of my brain?

I hope this helps....DejW

I'm heading into my 9th month living in France, working a job where all I use is english (it's the business language), living with my man who is fluent in english, socialising - even doing French activities - where everyone speaks with me in english.

A bit of 'bakery French' is all I've honestly needed to-date. My reading and comprehension is getting better - we watch movies in French, one of my activities is instructed in French but helpfully very visual. While I have been taking lessons all this time, using it in the real world and even just injecting more French into my everyday is proving more difficult than I expected.

What do you do?

Have tried post-it notes, the 'speak French with the man' thing, but I'm so basic level-wise, it quickly becomes tedious for us both. Even at tandems/meetups, I'm always the lowest-level French speaker there, and so people quickly want to test out their english with me instead.
 

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Agree with all of the above.. join an association or two, a sports activity, anything - where the activity is conducted in French - even better if you're the only English speaker. There will be those who'll try and speak English with you - to these, say no politely.
If joining one association will give you the vocab for that activity, imagine how good joining another will be!
It does work..!
Good luck!
 

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A couple further ideas: make an "appointment" to watch the French news at 20h each night. Or catch up the next morning by watching on the TF1 or France 2 website. Even if you don't understand it all at first, it can be really handy (and a conversation starter) if you have an idea what the major "local" (i.e. France) news stories are. Gives you something to ask about and people really do open up if you appeal to their "expertise" in local matters.

Along similar lines, find a French news source you can load onto your tablet or mobile phone. L'Express is the only free one I've found, but there may be others. (Get the L'Express app for this.) When there is a "breaking story" you'll get a little alert - and again, it can make a handy conversation starter.

And for those friends and acquaintances who want to practice their English, propose a language exchange. 45 minutes of English, followed by 45 minutes of French over a cup of coffee, a glass (or three) of wine or a lunch. First one to drop into the "wrong" language picks up the tab or some such minor "penalty" to make it a sporting event.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Agree 100% Bev.

I've found that learning French is not a "2 hours a week" activity at a language school, but as you suggest a 7 * 24 activity - to be undertaken with heart, soul and brain - and several glasses of wine.

I've also noted that what works for one person may not work for another. We have different learning styles and brain patterns.

JFDI works well, no matter how you do it. (do I need to explain?)

Good luck to the orginal poster.

DejW

A couple further ideas: make an "appointment" to watch the French news at 20h each night. Or catch up the next morning by watching on the TF1 or France 2 website. Even if you don't understand it all at first, it can be really handy (and a conversation starter) if you have an idea what the major "local" (i.e. France) news stories are. Gives you something to ask about and people really do open up if you appeal to their "expertise" in local matters.

Along similar lines, find a French news source you can load onto your tablet or mobile phone. L'Express is the only free one I've found, but there may be others. (Get the L'Express app for this.) When there is a "breaking story" you'll get a little alert - and again, it can make a handy conversation starter.

And for those friends and acquaintances who want to practice their English, propose a language exchange. 45 minutes of English, followed by 45 minutes of French over a cup of coffee, a glass (or three) of wine or a lunch. First one to drop into the "wrong" language picks up the tab or some such minor "penalty" to make it a sporting event.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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IME, it has to be something you enjoy doing, otherwise it will become too tedious and eventually you will drop it.

So for me, one thing I love is football, and to follow the latest news on my team, Olympique Lyonnais, I'm obligated to read blogs and forums in French and of course watch matches in French. So I am doing something I enjoy, and the French learning is just an added bonus!

Other than that I read newspapers and magazines that I find humourous and/or interesting like Charlie Hebdo or Capital and I look for series/movies with subject matter that really interests me.

You could also try ConversationExchange.com. It's a site geared towards finding a language partner (i.e. French natives who want to learn English). Once you've found someone, just set up a time to meet up for coffee or a drink and you can discuss half in English, half in French. I did this quite a bit when I arrived in Lyon back in September, a couple of them even blossomed into friendships!

Finally, if you really want to get serious, you could hire a teacher on iTalki and set up hour-long lessons with French teachers, It costs $10-15 per hour or more for a solid teacher, but I found that my oral production really picked up after 20-30 hours with a solid teacher.
 

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I do still hold that in the OP's particular circumstances it's wide to continue French lessons of some kind. That said, there are all sorts of lessons available (from basic conversation to full on grammar-loaded - the latter is almost certainly not appropriate - to conversational classes that involve activities) and I would be extremely surprised if Strasbourg were an exception (think about, right on the border, EU Parliament, and with huge numbers of expats working/living there - which is conversely also why English is so widely spoken).

If the OP doesn't take some kind of classes, they are likely to end up likely a few others on the Forum who have lived in France for decades - and who in the main do not have all the inhibitors that the OP has - but still struggle with French :(
 

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'you can take the boy out of Sarf London, but you can't take Sarf London outta the boy'
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I am following La Tour on france 2 and 3, which gives three weeks of following french language in use for up to eight hours a day! Even if you are not that interested in cycling, there is some magnificent scenery and they often break off to show major sights in the area or to give short history lessons.

Still wondering how to fit 'echappe' into my everyday vocabulary...........
 

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Exactly, dear Conkers!

We all have different interests and different learning styles. I learn by my mistakes...in fact sooooo many mistakes I am very knowledgeable in soooo many things!

We must also remember that some people are faster with languages than others....I found Latin easy because it's logical...and as a 13 year old I liked Caesar's Gallic Wars (...and all Gaul was quartered
into three halves). French is logical up to a point then I scream with the exceptions and illogicalities.

Years ago I worked with someone who found languages easy peasy. He went on holiday in Greece, bought a Greek language version of "teach yourself Turkish"....and learnt Turkish on the beach.

DejW


I am following La Tour on france 2 and 3, which gives three weeks of followinge french language in use for up to eight hours a day! Even if you are not that interested in cycling, there is some magnificent scenery and they often break off to show major sights in the area or to give short history lessons.

Still wondering how to fit 'echappe' into my everyday vocabulary...........
 

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I bought a French computer, that is the keyboard is French and all the software and operating system is in French. So, that's helping me learn French computer terms and more.

I met a Brazilian guy years ago who told me he learned English mostly from memorizing all the lyrics to Beatle's songs and singing along to them. So, I'm working on my favorite French songs now. And, there's a funny (to me) TV show on the evenings 'N'oubliez pas les paroles' where the contestants sing songs karaoke style and are rewarded for knowing the lyrics, which are put on the screen to read. For films and other TV shows, my cablebox does subtitles in French which helps me that I can read what's spoken in French.
 

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The method that Brazilian guy used reminds me of a method I learned about a couple years back called The Telenovela Method (it was named before the author realized that movies work better than telenovelas). Basically you take 1 movie you're really interested, watch it once without subs, once with subs (in French), and then after that you go sentence by sentence, making sure that you understand everything about the sentence. If you don't understand vocab or grammar, then you throw that sentence into a flashcard program (like Anki).

I am trying something similar. I'm using the "Easy French" videos on YouTube, of which there are about 70. They are ~5-6 minutes each and focus on a French city or a topic in French culture and an interviewer asks native speakers questions. I'm recording certain sentences or expressions, then adding them to Anki. After that I listen to the flashcards in Anki and try to repeat the sentence exactly as the French native says it. It's difficult, but I think is helping me learn to adjust my rhythm more like a native's, learn which words or sounds you can omit, and helping with listening comprehension and phonetiques.

I think these ideas are probably more for intermediate to high intermediate levels, but might be fun for some people to try out.
 

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'you can take the boy out of Sarf London, but you can't take Sarf London outta the boy'
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I bought a French computer, that is the keyboard is French and all the software and operating system is in French. So, that's helping me learn French computer terms and more.

I met a Brazilian guy years ago who told me he learned English mostly from memorizing all the lyrics to Beatle's songs and singing along to them. So, I'm working on my favorite French songs now. And, there's a funny (to me) TV show on the evenings 'N'oubliez pas les paroles' where the contestants sing songs karaoke style and are rewarded for knowing the lyrics, which are put on the screen to read. For films and other TV shows, my cablebox does subtitles in French which helps me that I can read what's spoken in French.
I tried watching this last night after le tour. See what you mean about funny but........
Never again!
 

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Another time-tested method is to listen to Radio France Info, particularly in the mornings. They seem to repeat the same stories every hour or so - playing precisely the same tape of the announcer reading the story multiple times (staff shortages?). In any event, if you catch a few words of something that might interest you the first time, you will hear the same story at least a couple more times during the morning, and each time you catch a bit more.

Then, you can always go to their website and try to find the story, either in podcast form or written out to pick up the additional bits you may not be certain of.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Best advice already given!

I found reading books in french really speeded things up for me.
At first, I'd understand only about 50% of what I read, then the next book went up to about 80%, and onwards.

At that time, it was so hard to get my hands on a book in english, I was pretty desperate, and that motivated me. But it seemed to be the real turning point when my french took off.
 
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