Right, so you’ve made the decision to move to France – congratulations , but you’re probably waking up at 3am thinking about all the stuff you need to organise – organise your finances, pick a removals company, where in France, buying a property in France, what visas and documents do you need? There’s plenty to do. But don’t forget, or put off , learning to speak French. So we thought it would be useful to take a stroll through the do’s and don’ts of learning French ahead of your relocation to France..
DO I NEED TO LEARN FRENCH?
Having the ability to speak French, will not only help you with your day to day life, but it will give you confidence and add to the delights of living in France. Plus of course it’ll give you the chance to make some French friends, and that will lead to a wider and more fulfilling experience. Even if you’re moving to a French region where there are a lot of British Expats, its really worth taking the time to learn to speak French.
DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN IN THE DETAIL
The first thing to acknowledge is that you don’t need to be perfect in French, in the early days you’re really just trying to get by. So it doesn’t matter if your French is littered with errors – you may be guilty of speaking “le français comme une vache espagnole” – but in most situations you’ll probably be speak more French, than they can speak English.
HALF THE WORDS ARE THE SAME
Another important thing to remember is that half the French words you’ll need are the same (or very similar) to the words we use in English , just with a different accent. In fact French was widely spoken in England during the 11th century, when the French took over the English nobility, and as a consequence wmany French words replaced English vocabulary.
There’s also some simple short cuts that you can use in conversational French. Remember at school, we spent so many hours in class trying to learn “verb formations and tenses” – present, imperfect, future, pluperfect, conditional ……yeah! I switched off as well. Well frankly, you can get by with 3 tenses:
- Present Tense – this is the easy one – Je mange / I eat
- Future Tense Futur Proche) – you just stick “aller / to go” in the middle – je vais manger/I’m going to eat
- Past Tense (Passé Composé) – you just stick “avoir / to have” in the middle – j’ai mange / I have eaten
Unfortunately this approach is not something that sits well with most French teachers – as they feel the need to teach you the “correct” way, and not the short cuts. But, we feel that the more you speak the language the more you will pick up.
These days there’s a bunch of different online resources that you can use to learn French – many of them are free. We think 15 minutes a day, every day for a few months you’ll see a significant difference in your language French abilities. But obviously the more you do over a longer period, the better you’ll get.
So lets take a look at some of the online resources that we really like:
- Learn French By Podcast Offers you beginner, intermediary, and advanced level exercises. And many are offered free of charge. The lessons are normally around 15 to minutes, and start with a conversation about day to day topics, followed by an analysis of that conversation, noting key grammar and phrases.
- TV5 Monde This is another site that we love and again it’s free. You’ve got some excellent exercises online, some revision sections, and most importantly access to TV shows, news and documentaries. You cannot possible get tires of TV5 Monde. We’d also strongly suggest that you watch some of the French Canadian shows as they are a lot easier to understand (mixing some English and French words), and also the Swiss shows because the Swiss speak French much slower than the French.
- Frantastiqueis probably the most free-form resource I have seen to date. This is partly because it employs artificial intelligence to cater the lessons to your needs. But its not cheapYou can keep using the resource until you feel you have learnt enough to meet your needs. Frantastique can supposedly help you reach the C1 or C2 levels of fluency. There is also apparently a diploma waiting for you if you choose to go with the Pro plan.
THE BEST TECHNIQUE FOR LEARNING
What are the best ways for me to learn and memorise vocabulary?
Language specialists say that we can generally memorise ten to fifteen words an hour. To really get them into your brain, however, repetition is key. You need to keep using them so that you don’t forget. Writing words and phrases down is also really important. The French use phrases a lot, and some (in fact most) don’t really translate – for example “Chercher midi à quatorze heures” is a comical French expression that translates literally to “to look for noon at 2.00pm” and means that you make things harder than necessary. So if you come across a little phrase that you might have heard a few times, write it down and learn it.
EMERCING YOURSELF IN FRENCH
Once you arrive in France and start to get settled in, get out and about and start using your French as much as possible. It won’t be easy at the start, but don’t beat yourself up, it gets easier. For example you’ll need some baguettes, so you’ll go to your local Boulangerie (you cant miss it – there’ll be baguettes in the window ) – hang back a little and check out which baguettes are the most popular, and what their called (normally they’ll all be labelled – “Tradition” or “Classique” for example). also check the price (it will also be marked), and make sure you can say that in French. Then take a breath and go order one. If you cock it up, never mind you’ll do better tomorrow, but if you get served “sans probleme” you’ve taken a huge step forward in building your confidence.
FRENCH LESSONS WITRH PROVENCE MOVERS
Here at Provence Movers we provide conversational French lessons for all of our clients online. We specifically aim at getting our students “France ready” in other words being able to hold a decent conversation with your French neighbour, or calling the internet company to get your broadband installed (no easy feat I can tell you from experience). We tailor our classes to suit the student, so if you’re interested, get in touch.
Provence Movers is an international moving company specialising on relocation services to France. We provide high quality door to door removal services at really attractive rates. So if you’re planning on moving to France, give us a shout and we’ll provide you with all the information that you need