French the natural way: tips to start reading

Coucou les French learners,

I have just finished reading such an impactful post about  language acquisition. Jody Noble, who is a fanstastic language teacher has been discussing the myth around language practice.


Courtesy of Compelling Input Productions

She writes: “Why do people continue to believe that PRACTICE is the key? Because practice works so well to improve other skills like playing a musical instrument, shooting baskets, weaving, cooking, singing, dancing, etc.” This is so true and yet acquiring another language is NOT about practicing it. Jody goes on explaining: “Practice won’t give you ACQUIRED LANGUAGE (the kind that falls out of your mouth without effort, that is understood by others without effort, and that gives you the ability to understand without effort). That comes from input that you understand, consistently and over time.

I hear many learners wanting to practice because as Jody writes: “Practice makes people feel like they are DOING something to learn language. It is counter-intuitive for an adult mind, used to PRACTICING INFORMATION.” As a matter of fact, learners need to listen and read and “to focus on MEANING, just meaning” because “the brain is extremely efficient at processing language when it UNDERSTANDS it.

The bottom line is “you don’t have to DO anything, except get the hell out of the way and let the brain work.Read Jody Noble’s full post here.

Lire en français

In last week newsletter I urged you to listen to some French daily. Today, I am urging you to start reading in French. When you were a baby, the only thing you could do to acquire your mother tongue was to listen. The good news is that you are not a baby anymore and you can also read to acquire French!


To learn how to read is to light a fire, each spelled syllable sparkles.

I already mentioned useful tips to read in French in a previous newsletter. Here are extra tips to help you start:

  • Your own stories or stories made up by other learners will give you the confidence to start reading books. Check out my collection of stories co-created with my amazing learners. Here is one story I especially enjoyed creating with one of my upper beginners (I hope you appreciate the twist at the end which my learner came up with!): Sophia.
    It was edited and formatted by the amazing Martina Bex.  Martina is a Spanish teacher and she creates wonderful resources for teachers. She is also learning French and she mentions in her blog post: “As I was reading Alice’s story, the drip-drip-drip of her repetition allowed me to process the information. Repeating the information allows me to continue reading without stopping and going back to re-read (which feels very frustrating). All of these things help me to feel confident while reading a new text and EXCITED afterward at the length and complexity of the story that I just read!“.
  • Compelling articles on Blogs and websites aimed at French learners are also a good start because they tend to be comprehensible. One of my learners directed me to this recent article about Irma hurricane. She told me she was so interested about the topic that she kept on reading it even though it was at times difficult to understand. That is exactly what you should be aiming for: articles which interest you so much, you want to keep reading.
  • Choose easy books written for learners such as Brandon Brown veut un chien by Carol Gaab or Les aventures d’Isabelle by Karen Rowan. I had learners say it gave them so much self-confidence when they finished reading a French chapter book! If you live in America, order the books on Fluency Matters and if you live in Europe or near to Europe, order them on The CI Bookshop.

Des livres pour enfants

French children’s books are also great although some of the vocabulary or structures can be difficult to understand. That is why I recommend you to check out my new YouTube playlist where I post children’s books I enjoy ready to my boys. Watch them first because my gestures will help you understand the story and if you really enjoyed it, order the book! You can start building a French library in your home and then show off to your family and friends!

Here is a story I particularly love, even though I am an adult. It is about a dog who has a big problem!

In the comments below, let me know if you enjoyed the story too? Est-ce que tu as apprécié l’histoire ?

Happy French reading and acquisition!

A bientôt !

P.S. Remember to watch this week’s new story about Jean who doesn’t feel well. Perfect to understand illnesses in French!

P.P.S. Keep on watching one minute of French each day. There are already 10 videos available to you to watch, so 10 minutes of pure comprehensible French about high frequency words and expressions. Perfect too!

2 thoughts on “French the natural way: tips to start reading

  1. I absolutely loved listening to this story; compelling and funny! There were a couple of words/phrases I didn’t recognise but it didn’t matter at all because the plot and the repetitions were ‘super’! Luar biasa (awesome).

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