Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I keep getting more competent in reading and writing French; even speaking French I'm showing some improvement. But my oral comprehension--understanding what is said to me, or understanding what I overhear the French say to each other--is the bane of my existence. Very, very slow improvement, if at all. Clearly, I need to practice conversing face- to- face with a fluent French speaker. But where to find one? I realize that any service can be obtained--for a price. But it seems to me that one ought to be able to exchange his competency in English with a Francophone out there somewhere who wants to improve his/her English. My ads have gotten little or no response. Any ideas? Surely, this is a common problem for American ex-pats in France.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
I keep getting more competent in reading and writing French; even speaking French I'm showing some improvement. But my oral comprehension--understanding what is said to me, or understanding what I overhear the French say to each other--is the bane of my existence. Very, very slow improvement, if at all. Clearly, I need to practice conversing face- to- face with a fluent French speaker. But where to find one? I realize that any service can be obtained--for a price. But it seems to me that one ought to be able to exchange his competency in English with a Francophone out there somewhere who wants to improve his/her English. My ads have gotten little or no response. Any ideas? Surely, this is a common problem for American ex-pats in France.
a cheap solution is watching french films with subtitles. the good thing is i've seen a lot of good french films.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
I recommend "French in Action". This is the primary method my husband is using to learn French and it's excellent. It is specifically centered around understanding French as it is actually spoken.

Resource: French in Action

I also recommend watching TV with the captions on (in addition to watching films with subtitles, which amounts to the same thing). This is how I learned Spanish and it was far more effective than the Spanish classes I took in college. My husband (who is Greek) learned English this way and still prefers to keep the captions on!

(and, apropos of nothing, my daughter learned to read fluently by the age of 4 because she watched TV with captions on...I swear that was what did it!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39,105 Posts
There is a special difficulty with French in getting a gist of what is being said because of its non-phonetic character. While Spanish and German are largely phonetic languages and each word is pronounced distinctly (so it's easier to get a drift of what is being said), a high degree of aural competence (and language fluency) is needed to pick up underlying words and phrases when words run on (liaison) and frequent shift in pronunciation according to context and syntax (sentence structure). Only extensive exposure to spoken French is the solution, but by all means use films and subtitles (remember they aren't translations but paraphrases). Easier for children and young people learning French by ear - much more challenging for more mature learners relying on written scripts!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
try making some french acquaintances - invite your neighbors over for an apero, join a sports club or start another hobby of your choice. you are right that your oral language is not going to improve unless you hear and speak french. listening to french can be solved by watching TV, but there is not sub for speaking it. it will be awkward at first, but eventually it will get easier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
I've found my french to have improved a lot since arriving 2 months ago. I understand nearly all that's said, and if not every word, I get the context and I have no problem asking what this or that means. My biggest problem with language in France is speaking it. I speak relatively well, I can have a 3 day weekend with my wife's family, all in french and communicate, even tell jokes. Give me a coup de vin and well, i'm whizzing. But when I speak to a large percentage of the people around me--on the street, at the job agency, pole emploi, grocery store--they seem immediately impatient with my accent or my improper grammar. (The words 'ce' as in ce que je veux dire and 'en' are still a problem for me.) For me it feels like a serious disrespect, but then again, I have lots of experience with non-native English speakers so it feels natural to be patient and allow them to express themselves. Here in France, I find that a rare trait.

It's great to observe the french language and sometimes it's so silly and sometimes so interesting and sometimes so complicated. When I finally got a response from the OFII, the form was titled "Attestation de Recepcion du formulaire de demande d'attestation d'Ofii! I love it.

French in Action is great, so is Rosetta stone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
But when I speak to a large percentage of the people around me--on the street, at the job agency, pole emploi, grocery store--they seem immediately impatient with my accent or my improper grammar.
The best one is the face they make - "i can't believe i have to suffer through this..." :)
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,464 Posts
I studied French in school for years and then took a French lit class (in French) at university. Nothing prepares you for actually having to use the language in situ. The only way to improve your listening comprehension is to get out there and make a fool of yourself. You really have to ask people to speak more slowly or more clearly - sometimes multiple times - before you'll start to catch on to the "shortcuts" or accents you encounter.

Oddly enough, French actually IS a phonetic language - if you talk to a hard-core linguist. All those unpronounced letters at the end of the word really do "flavor" the following sounds or subtly influence the letters you do pronounce. (Yeah, yeah, I fought this notion for a long time, but it's actually true.)

I don't think there is any sort of a "class" that helps with this. You need to find a French person who wants to practice their English and arrange a language exchange or just get used to asking people to repeat, slow down or speak more clearly (especially on the telephone). Watch French news broadcasts (the pictures help) and listen to Radio France Info in the mornings, when they repeat the same story multiple times over the course of the morning. Each time you hear the same story, you pick up different bits of what it's about.

I've been living here for 15 years now, and still misunderstand things I hear around me. But if you don't ask questions, you'll never learn.
Cheers,
Bev
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top