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French Practise


norma

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Is there anyone who would like to get together to practise their french over coffee or glass of wine. I'm in the Dordogne near Brantome and moved here in March.  My French is very basic and I'm having lessons once a week but would like the opportunity to practice a bit more.  So if anyone would be interested please drop me an e-mail.  Norma

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This approach wouldn't have helped for me. I have never found that speaking with other brits helped with my french at all. There is the odd person I know with a good accent, but the rest goes from appalling to not too bad. Associations will be starting again in a few weeks if you join one of them then you will likely have to speak french.

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TU, you make a good point but it can be a) better than nothing and b) far less intimidating so helpful to gain confidence.  Many people, especially beginners, worry enormously about making mistakes and somehow it isn't so bad if you do so in front of another non-French speaker.  And no matter what your level, it always appears easier to converse in French with other foreigners.  M
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the problem of speaking French to English speakers, is that if you get stuck (and you WILL get stuck), you WILL revert to English! Wheras if you are speaking French to a non-English speaker, you WILL have to make the effort and learn more.
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The GRETA run courses at Riberac re-start week commencing 12th September and there is an information meeting on the 8th September at 3.30pm where class days/times/ability will be sorted. It is on the first floor at the Palais de Justice and anyone interested is invited to come along. The Formatrice, Isabelle, is an excellent teacher and I would recommend her classes.
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"Or is that too restrictive and undemocratic?"

Dick, it could be argued that it is a tad pedantic.  And if we start policing postings for spelling and grammar we may discourage people from contributing.  Re-reading a long thread, I occasionally spot spelling mistakes of my own and cringe with embarrassment.  But does it really, honestly matter?  Surely it's the dialogue that counts here on the Forum?  M

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[quote]TU, you make a good point but it can be a) better than nothing and b) far less intimidating so helpful to gain confidence. Many people, especially beginners, worry enormously about making mistakes an...[/quote]

MWJ - I have every sympathy about gaining confidence, but in fact you really should not worry.  If you can speak and be understood and in turn understand in broad terms what is being said to you, you have achieved the first goal.  Whether it is gramatically correct or not, in full sentences, joined up writing or whatever is absolutely immaterial.

I have been in Germany for 10 years and still make (sometimes basic) mistakes when talking (and worse when writing).  Does it matter - NO!  I am understood and I understand and some of my German colleagues make similar mistakes.  (That's the second goal - to recognise that you said it wrong)

 

The problem is that mentally we want to be 100% - perfectly fluent, no mistakes - speak it just like we do English.  Most of the time 50% is more than enough and if you are prepared to stive to always improve, that is a very good basis.  In fact most of will never speak a foreign language as we do English since we have come to learn too late and will be constantly translating rather than speaking and thinking totally in French.

 

So my advice - go out and use it - make what you think is going to be a fool of yourself.  I bet you don't come across people laughing at your awful French.  Rather they will probably be impressed that you are making the effort and will respond by being helpful.  The worst that is going to happen is that realising you have some grasp of the language they will talk back at full speed - just keep reminding them to slow down a bit.

 

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Cultivate your local hairdresser. Once you get a hairdresser talking not only will your French improve but you will learn about what is happening locally. The other day I was asked if I wanted my hair backcombing. I think the word was crépue and I said wasn't crépi what you put on walls? A good chuckle was had by all. I am sure my pronunciation makes me sound like the English policeman from allo allo at times but eventually........
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Fully agree, chatting to the hairdresser is a terrific way of not only practising French but also picking up local gossip. 

Now confession time.  I moved to France with a rusty O level that enabled me to shop, ask directions, etc.  Immediately enrolled in full time French course, 3 hrs a day, 5 days a week.  After about three months of this got to a point where I had to sit an exam (written and oral) and it was whilst preparing for the oral that my great secret came out.  Although always top in class with the grammar exercises, a wizz at dictees and an avid reader, I couldn't talk.  Well, I could converse but not at the level you would expect.  And somehow getting good marks in other areas made it worse for I felt people's expectations were higher.  I lived with this for about a year doing every thing possible such as watching TV, reading even more.  I even enrolled for extra conversation classes but even there found myself trying to remain monosyllabic if I could.  And then one day, almost overnight, it just came, I found the confidence, the words and phrases that I could formulate beautifully on paper just flowed out of my mouth.  And I haven't stopped talking since!

Hence my thing about lack of confidence and how important it is.  And it's true that it is best to just gabble away, though try if you can to combine it with some formal classes.

M

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''The problem is that mentally we want to be 100% - perfectly fluent, no mistakes - speak it just like we do English.  Most of the time 50% is more than enough and if you are prepared to stive to always improve, that is a very good basis.  In fact most of will never speak a foreign language as we do English since we have come to learn too late and will be constantly translating rather than speaking and thinking totally in French.''

 

Well said Andy. This is a very valid point. As an adult you are never going to have the same command of a second language as you do your mother tongue. Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't achieve a perfectly functional working fluency in the language. But, the sooner the learner stops comparing his foreign language skills to those of his native language the better. Just because you have an English accent, make grammar mistakes, or have used the odd 'unconventional' phrase doesn't mean that you cannot communicate effectively. Constantly punishing oneself for imperfections will serve only in lowering confidence, thus severely hindering the learning process.

Julie

www.francoservices.com

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here here!

In fact most of will never speak a foreign language as we do English since we have come to learn too late and will be constantly translating rather than speaking and thinking totally in French.

So when one learns French at school or evening classes in the UK, all the stuff about "you must think in French" which people say vaguely without explaining how to - is misguided because it implies that unless you're thinking in French you're not succeeding..

Like the other thing people say, "you only really learn a language if you go and live in the country" - which can be true but as we know, it doesn't happen without effort any more than it would if you just stayed in the UK.

Oh, and "you know you've cracked it when you dream in French" - I'm not sure whether I dream in any language.. Does anyone here dream in French or English?  

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Does anyone here dream in French or English? 

I'm famous amongst my friends for my dreams for I have almost total recall next morning and tend to share them.  I think I must be a frustrated sportswoman for I'm invariably skiing, ice skating or even flying small aeroplanes!  And they can often be in French, which isn't surprising if you spend a lot of your day speaking French surely?

Guess it depends what sort of level you wish to attain in French but if your objective is to speak the language well, there comes a point where you simply must stop thinking in English if you are going to express yourself correctly.

M

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How do you know you dream in french.  I have no idea as to what 'language' I dream in. For me it is about comprehension. If I understand it doesn't 'flag' itself as being in a specific language in my head, just that I have understood. And I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to know which language it was when I woke up.

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