Stopping through Paris? Whether you’re here for a short visit or an extended stay, you’ll want to know a little French. It’s not only helpful for getting around or shopping, but you’ll feel more in tune with the culture and best of all, you’ll be able to chat with the locals. But let’s say you have limited time to learn French or don’t want to spend money on expensive classes. Lucky for you, there are various ways you can pick up the language without picking up a grammar book…
A great way to learn French is to do speaking exchanges with locals who are looking to learn English. First, go to a website like www.conversationexchange.com, where you can designate which language you can offer and which one you’d like to learn. You can browse the profiles of potentials partners and once you’ve found a few people who sound interesting, you can meet up for a coffee and a chat. The best option is to do one hour in one language, then one hour in the other. Think of it like dating – if it doesn’t click right away, move on to another person. With the right partner, your new language comprehension will surprise you. You might be thinking to yourself, “But I don’t speak French – how can I do a language exchange?” While you may spend your first sessions just listening, trust us, the language will come. A little studying at home between lessons will move things along even faster.
If you’re here for a longer period, why not get a job to practice your French? Scoop ice cream, work at a bookshop or become a server in a bar. You’ll have direct contact with locals and any French you have learned can be put directly to use. The best way to learn a language is by using it and making it part of your daily life. So why not put yourself in a setting where you have only one choice but to speak French all day long?
Listen to the Radio or Watch TV
This probably seems like a no-brainer, but it will help your language learning tremendously if you can listen to the radio, or watch TV and movies in French. Surrounding yourself with the language will train your ear to first get used to the sound of the language, if you’re an ultimate beginner, and help you pick up words and phrases if you already know some French basics. Whether you choose radio, TV or movies to help you learn, you’ll want to try listening in two different ways – by truly sitting down and focusing on what is being said for a condensed time period, or by having the sound in the background for several hours to submerge yourself in the language. Also, try to switch up what you listen to or watch. The daily news is good for total beginners, as the language tends to repeat itself, while a TV series may use more slang and be best left for when you have gained some vocabulary.
When all else fails, try dating!
You’ve probably heard people joking about this, but it really is true that perhaps the best way to learn French is to date a French person. If you truly want to be with your amoureux, you will have to find a way to communicate, and if he or she doesn’t speak English, you’ll have no choice but to put those rusty French skills to use. Unlike with French friends, who you may only spend a few hours with each day, you’re likely to spend lots of time with your French cheri, which only improves your chances of picking up the language quickly. Of course, we’re not telling you to date a French person just to learn the language – we wouldn’t want to condone that!