Back in college, you dreamed of becoming fluent in French. Now your vocabulary is DOA, your tenses are tense, and your noun genders are as politically charged as a Midwestern airport bathroom.
And yet, you’ve made the New Year’s resolution to learn French in 2017. Felicitations! We at Frenchly believe it’s never too late to learn a language. And contrary to popular belief, getting a French copain/copine is not the only way to do it. Whether you’re learning French from scratch, or dusting off the freshman year 101 grammar books, the key to making progress with a language is to keep your goal in sight. Remember, you’re learning French to meet new people, explore new horizons, and–perhaps most importantly–to sample new delicious foods.
By engaging in French culture and conversation–with the support of your favorite Francophile blog, Frenchly–you’ll be fluent in no time. Here’s the Frenchly method for your New Year’s Resolution to learn French.
Plan a trip to France!
Studies show that goals are easier to achieve when they build up to something. What better way to prime yourself for linguistic accomplishment than booking a trip to France? Those daily half-hour vocab practice sessions will fly by when paired with daydreaming about your upcoming tour of Lyon’s hot restaurant scene, wine-tasting in Champagne, or ski trip to Chamonix.
And there’s no shortage of options for those on a budget. If you’re willing to exchange work hours for room and board, you could pick grapes, work in a hostel on a “chantiers de bénévoles” program, or be a farm-hand through WWOOF.
Yearning for a total change of scene? Consider TAPIF, a year-long teachers’ assistant program.
This fast-growing app mimics the way children learn language, with a focus on communication of simple sentences rather than the standard academic method of endless, mind-numbing lists of verb conjugation.
Each bite-sized lesson introduces a new skill, broken down into 20 questions that cover reading, writing, listening and speaking. This means it only takes 10 minutes a day for simple sentences: “la vie est belle”, to become complex ones: “la vie était belle quand j’ai habité à Paris, grâce aux épiceries beaucoup moins chères que Whole Foods.”.
It helps that the cute owl mascot, on-fleek sound effects, and point system make Duolingo addicting AF.
Read our articles on “defunct French words” and “top phrases to use”
Languages are 3-D living creatures. The French you learned in school using outdated textbooks is, therefore, passé.
By keeping on top of new linguistic trends such as French filler words, defunct words, and French words that are English words with a French accent, you’ll be speaking like a native in no time.
And make sure to subscribe to the Frenchly newsletter for all the latest French language updates.
Watch Oh La La
The first season of this hilarious web series portrays the life of Soso, a French woman who moves to LA after breaking up with her boyfriend. Season two follows her rocky return to France, and the universally challenging experiences of finding a new job and avoiding said boyfriend.
You’ll be too caught up in Soso’s melodramatic affairs to notice all the conjugation and vocabulary you’ve learned.
Attend a New York EN VRAI!
Sign up for these monthly events in New York City, where French and Francophiles come together for a language exchange during an excellent, underground NYC event. If you’re daunted, just remember that there will be other Americans there working on their French too! The key to language learning may be goal-setting, but the strange activities will bond you and the Frenchies together. This month’s is “Sculpture without Sight” a.k.a. sculpting clay while blindfolded.
French Classes at Fluent City
If you’re fluent in ordering baguettes and asking for directions, but struck dumb when the conversation gets more interesting, a language class is what you need. Fluent City classes are lead by native speakers, who will help you integrate fancier vocabulary and high-level grammar to elevate your spoken and aural French. Fluent City also provides community events such as wine and cheese-tasting, and international movie-nights, where you can practice your skills while bonding with like-minded Francophiles.
Watch French TV/Movies
After you’ve binged on Oh La La, you will hunger for more drama, more French kissing, and more French language. Start by streaming Spiral and Les Revenants–TV shows with plots you’ll recognize from the Sopranos and Resurrection. It won’t be long before you’re snickering at the subtle jokes in classic New Wave films like Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, gasping at the insolence of Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, or relishing the argot in Bande de Filles.
Get a French Skype Friend
For a language exchange, Penpals are out and Skype is in. Conversation Exchange is an easy site to use – just fill out a profile, enter your chosen language, and voila!
Like online dating, the anonymity and facility of the service means that if you get weird vibes from someone, you can simply ghost forever! Once in a blue moon, you find a new best friend. And they may even spare you thousands of Airbnb euros by offering to host you at their swanky 18th arrondissement pad.
Talks, wine and cheese nights, cultural exchanges, films–the Alliance Française (or FIAF) is a great resource in all major cities in the US. Bring your new friend from Fluent City or Speak Easy, and promise to speak only in French all night.
Don’t worry if your French is bad–French Expats will be flattered at your effort, and may reward you with local secret travel tips for your fast-approaching French vacation!
Read French Morning!
Our parent site French Morning is geared at French Expats, and contains Current Affairs, Cultural Examinations, and French goings-on in all major cities in the US.
There are also “annonces” for seeking and finding French roommates, French cafes and restaurants (that would happily host your French-speaking dinner club), and recommendations for where French people spend most of their time (cough Brooklyn cough). Because eavesdropping is a totally valid form of language-learning.
Remember, becoming fluent in a new language is HARD, but the benefits are huge. Stick with it, and you’ll be happy you did in 2020, when French is the “most spoken language in the world“.
Finally, keep us in the loop! Like the Frenchly Facebook page for updates, offers, events and to get in touch.