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FRENCH - What one thing?


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For those of you who are perhaps self-taught and now feel comfortable with the French language, what one thing (or perhaps more) do you consider to be the turning point?

I mean, whatever we learn, there always seems to come a moment when 'something clicks' and it becomes much easier. I know, of course, there is nothing to compare with living there full-time, but for many of us that is not possible. And whatever learning route is taken, a lot of hard work is required.

So what book/method/course do successful students of the language recommend - especially for those of us getting on in years!

Student Head Explodes

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I think that you have answered your own question re living here full time but that in itself is not sufficient without study and if possible immersion/isolation.

I can tell you my turning point was being hospitalised and being forced to communicate in french but I think more importantly to be in an active French speaking environment. Following that on my discharge I stopped watching english TV

Whilst I had been living on my own and hence was not speaking English daily to a partner, and from day one only spoke French and only socialised with the French, in my daily life I was not surrounded by French chatter and the UK TV definitely was hampering me.

I suppose a second turning point in more ways than one was finding a French girlfriend, - who doesnt speak English[8-|]


I am getting on in years and it is never too late, in fact I think in comparison to my peers who I left behind the learning challenge has kept me younger.

I got a lot from Michel Thomas but his course get exponentially harder and the returns are in inverse proportion.

To me the most important thing is to have the confidence to use whatever limited vocabulary you possess and that only comes with practice and familiarity.

My girlfriend was educated in English to a very high level, understands it fairly well but doesnt have the confidence/familiarity to speak it, for which I am truly gratefull, occasionally when I cannot express myself she asks me the word in English or if I cannot understand what she is trying to say to me she will as a last resort give me the word in English.

From the above I have realised  that her English vocabulary is far greater and of a  higher level than my French but she has not had the opportunity to work in England

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I first came to France when I was 5.  At the age of 10, I went to spend a month with a French family (my mother had stayed with the older generation of the family when she was the same age, and is a contemporary of the parents.)  I was very homesick and for the first couple of weeks was very shy about even trying to speak French and as both parents spoke good English, didn't make much of an effort but just sat and listened.  Inevitably, dinner consisted of a huge sit-down meal, often with a dozen or more people at the table.  One night, the usual chatter was going on and somebody told a funny story.  I found myself laughing with everybody else as - without knowing it - I had picked up enough to understand what was being said.  It was a huge turning point for me.

Yes, it did help that I was young, when these things are much easier, but even so - to my mind - there is nothing to beat total immersion.  When you have to learn, you do!

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