French the natural way: input is crucial

Coucou les French learners,

Lately I have been reading a lot of articles and blog posts on how to keep up with learning a new language. La rentrée is over and most of us are back to work and to our daily chores. It is hard to find time for some French (or in my case German!) in our busy schedule!

French lover, Angel Pretot has excellent recommendations to keep at it on a tight schedule.

How to stay motivated and most of all consistent? Input is crucial. Stephen Krashen stresses that speaking in the target language (in that case French) does not result in language acquisition. Although speaking can indirectly assist in language acquisition, the ability to speak is not the cause of language learning or acquisition.

Therefore, don’t beat yourself up by repeating words or sentences in French everyday. However, listen and/or read a bit of French everyday, even if it is only as little as one minute a day!

La minute française

Because I am aware that most of us do not have much time on our hands, I created a new playlist on my YouTube Channel called La minute française. I try to stick to videos under one minute where I explain a word or expression in comprehensible French.

Comprehensible output is the effect of language acquisition according to Stephen Krashen.

I use to tell my learners that D’artagnan in Vingt Aprés by Alexandre Dumas says: ” L’anglais n’est que du français mal prononcé. ” which translates to “English is little more than badly pronounced French”!

Did you know that English borrows many French words. As a matter of fact, the number of English words from French origins is about 50%, some even say 70%! This is mainly due to our history. Read this thorough article about how the English language borrowed so many French words.

As a consequence, many English and French words have the same meaning; these words are called cognates. The use of cognates allows you, as a learner to use your native language as a resource for learning new words in French. Cognates are words that have a similar spelling, pronunciation, and meaning across the two languages. When you recognize words as cognates, you can access unfamiliar French words and better understand what you read too.

Here is a straightforward example:

More tips to get comprehensible input

One of my upper beginner learner told me that she tried to watch French television but it was so difficult for her to understand that her mind shut down. I told her it is the reason why input should be comprehensible. Negative emotions prevent efficient processing of the input. However when you can understand the message, your self confidence goes high. If the input is comprehensible and interesting to you, encore mieux, even better!

Look for topics which interest you and which are comprehensible to you. For example if you like to hear the news in the morning, try listening to News in slow French. The presenters cover the week’s news in a light and entertaining way, in French that is slow (hence the name!) and easy to follow.

If you are curious about what real French people think, watch Easy French on YouTube. The presenters ask interesting questions to French passers-by such as “ Paris, ville the l’amour ? ” The interview format is perfect as you hear the same question over and over, and the answers are usually entertaining.

If you like cooking (as I do!), watch Simplissime to follow simple yet delicious recettes, recipes. The narrator speaks slowly and the words often appear on screen, which makes things a lot easier to follow.

And of course, watch my weekly stories with a twist!

Here is my last story based on “No smiles today” by Cheryl Rao.

Claudine is usually a happy girl but today, she is not smiling. Why?

In this story, you will acquire:
Elle sourit = she smiles
Elle est de mauvaise humeur = she is in a bad mood
Il fait des grimaces = he makes faces
Elle éclate de rire = she bursts out laughing

In the comments below, let me know whether you usually are in a good or in a bad mood? Est-ce que tu es de bonne humeur ou de mauvaise humeur ?

If you want to read comprehensible French, have a look at my previous newsletter with useful tips for reading.

Happy French acquisition!

A bientôt !

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it :-)

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