French Input

French the natural way: Amuse-toi !

Coucou les French learners,

I know you may think the title is cheesy, right? Amuse-toi ! Enjoy! I was actually trying to find the right translation in French for “enjoy” but could not really find it. “Enjoy” doesn’t really exist in French! So I thought s’amuser would be the best way to express it.

Michel Polac est un journaliste, écrivain et cinéaste français “I am still wondering if life is made to enjoy yourself or to be useful“.

Enjoy the process

Two weeks ago, I reminded you to trust the process because language acquisition is a subconscious process.

Last week, I told you how important it was to relax in order to trigger the language acquisition device in your brain.

This week I am asking you to enjoy the process. Have fun and enjoy! When you get so excited that you “forget” that you are talking in another language is when you acquire the language.

Meet Alike

This week I want you to meet a like minded French teacher who also uses the Comprehensible Input based approach with her adult learners in the Netherlands. Her motto with her students is s’amuser et prendre du plaisir, to enjoy and have fun!

Alike came to visit me in Germany before we headed to the wonderful Story Listening workshop in Erlangen. It was a great opportunity to set up a proper interview with her in my little studio!

Here is the interview in French:

And now in English:

Which language(s) are you learning/ have you learned?

I’m a native Dutch speaker and besides that I understand the northern Dutch dialect of my mother fluently, but strangely enough I can not speak it. When going to secondary school I learned English, French, a bit of German (I learned German more by watching television when I was a young kid) and after I was thirty I studied a bit of Spanish, but I couldn’t learn anymore like I did in secondary school. Now I learn other languages like Russian, Chinese, Arabic, with TPRS, but just only for the feel of it. And when possible I read Spanish TPRS novels. I feel this really works for acquiring the language and it’s fun. Dr Krashen says: “There are no non-readers; if you don’t like reading. you just didn’t yet find the right book.

Why did you start learning French?

I started learning French, because it was an obliged subject in school, but I immediately loved the language. I think this happened, because when I was young, I watched the French children series Belle et Sebastien on television and I was so young I couldn’t yet read, so I couldn’t read the subtitles. I didn’t understand the language, but I was completely in love with the boy Sebastien and his way of speaking and a lot was comprehensible, because television works with images and emotions. And I loved the theme song, L’oiseau. Zaz also sung the songs with the new film of Belle et Sebastien.

For how long have you been learning French?

I started learning French at the age of 12, the last year of primary school and for six years since the first year of secondary school. French was my favorite subject in school and I had high grades. When I was young I went several summers to France with my parents and my brother. Since I was 15 years old, I went very often to France and especially to Paris. Now I also go to e.g. Maroc, where I can also speak French. I read a lot of French novels and whenever possible I watch French (spoken) movies, preferably with French subtitles.

You teach French now: for how long have you been teaching it and how do you teach it?

After secondary school I went to university and I became an organizational psychologist and I worked several years as a study- and careerchoice consultant. But when I was in my midlife crisis ;-) I suddenly decided I wanted to follow my heart and do something with French. So I went back to study to become a French teacher. Since 2006 I’m teaching French. The funny thing is, that I’m using nothing of the didactic methods I learned when studying to become a French teacher. I started my own French language lessons institute Vrolijk & Frans (Funny & French) in 2006 and I based my lessons on Multiple Intelligences. I started using TPR (Total Physical Response, teaching a language with your body, by movements). This is a very strong method to acquire a language and it is for a big part the way children acquire their native language. But I started missing something, because TPR uses a lot of commands, and a language is more than commands. I read about several language teaching methods, but also about TPRS. TPRS stands for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. It’s a dynamic, creative, funny and effective way of teaching languages. There appeared to be no one in the Netherlands who used it, so I introduced it in my country in 2007. Since 2008 I’m a teacher trainer in TPRS. I’m also one of the head organizers of the European ETPRS conference, 5 and 6 October in the Mundus College in Amsterdam.

What is your advice to acquire French?

For teachers: use comprehensible input methods, like TPRS, Story Listening, but also TPR and use songs, do a lot with culture.

For students: watch Alice Ayel’s wonderful videos on YouTube, read as much als you can, and make sure you understand at least 97% of what you’re reading. If there are words you don’t understand, just keep reading! And really read about anything you like to read about; enjoy reading and then really, miracles will happen!

And come to our 4-days French crash course in Liège, Belgium from Friday the 8th until Monday the 11th of June 2018. It will be four days of fun, while you’re quickly acquiring French. It’s for CEFR level A1, beginner level.

Favorite French word or expression?

Le tout est plus que la somme de ses parties (Aristote)

I love hearing from you so let me know how you feel about acquiring French (or any other languages!)?

Today is day 21! Oh la la! Do let me know how the May challenge is going for you. And if you have not started yet, jump in anytime! Share and/or leave a comment with #coucou

Happy French acquisition!

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 :-)


French the natural way: détends-toi, ça va bien se passer !

Coucou les French learners,

C’est le début de la semaine, it is the start of the week and to start off on the right foot, pour commencer du bon pied, RELAX!

The Affective Filter

Noam Chomsky, the American linguist (also philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist!) calls the “language acquisition device“, the part of the brain responsible for language acquisition. Last week, I explained that acquisition is very different from learning. We, as human being, are good at acquiring but we struggle to learn.

Stephen Krashen explains in the Fundamentals of Language Acquisition that “if the acquirer (in that case yourself) is anxious, has low self-esteem or does not consider him or herself to be a potential member of a group that speaks the language, s/he may understand the input, but it will not reach the language acquisition device, a block called the “Affective Filter” will keep it out.”

That is why, it is so VERY important to relax and trust the process. It does make me sad when I see some of my learners being so stressed out during a session. Acquiring another language is stress-free and effortless. The job of the teacher (I prefer to call myself a facilitator) is to make the process stress-free and effortless.

Encore en Bretagne !

Beniko Mason invented Story Listening because she has always been looking for the most efficient way for learners to acquire another language. Story Listening allows you to relax. When you listen to a story, your are stress-free, your only goal is to understand the story. My only goal as the facilitator is to convey the meaning of the story using words, NOT teaching the words.

This week’s video is not Story Listening. it is a guided tour of a beautiful Medieval castle in Brittany. Not onlyis the castle beautiful, its surroundings are amazing too! Relax & enjoy the tour of the castle!

You can also listen to a podcast by Français Facile (along with the script) about this part of Bretagne, le Morbihan.

I love hearing from you so let me know in the comments if you like l’Histoire, History and especially le Moyen-Age, the Middle-Age?

Tomorrow is day 15, we are already halfway down the journey!!! Do let me know how the May challenge is going for you. Share and/or leave a comment with #coucou

Happy French acquisition!

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 :-)

French the natural way : trust the process

Coucou les French learners,

I am back from a wonderful weekend in Erlangen, Germany where I got to listen to my idols, Stephen Krashen and Beniko Mason.

They are my heroes in the field of Second Language Acquisition! I got to spend the entire weekend listening to them at the Story Listening workshop, and networking with like minded educators.

My biggest share to you this morning (as I am recovering from it all!) is to TRUST THE PROCESS.

Acquisition & Learning

Although Stephen Krashen developed the first comprehensive theory about second language acquisition, he explains big complicated concepts in an easy and interesting way. Everything he says is crystal clear.

This weekend, he explained why we have to TRUST THE PROCESS. It all lies into the difference between acquisition versus learning.

Language acquisition is a subconscious process. In other words, while it is happening, we are not aware that it is happening. Once we have acquired something, we are not usually aware we possess any new knowledge; the knowledge is subconsciously stored in our brains. The good news is that research strongly supports the view that both children AND adults can subconsciously acquire languages.”

Learning is a conscious process; when we are learning, we know we are learning. Learned knowledge is represented consciously in the brain. So when we talk about “rules” and “grammar”, we are usually talking about learning. Research as well as experience tells us that error correction and conscious learning are very limited.

It is good news, isn’t it?! That means, you don’t need to practice the language. For example, you don’t need to learn the passé-composé and the imparfait rules (as one of my learners asked me the other day) in order to acquire French. All you have to do is to listen and read comprehensible French.

Stephen Krashen even mentioned that if “if you practice your French out loud every morning in front of a mirror, your French will not improve. The ability to speak is a result of language acquisition, not a cause.

Le Sénégal

Beniko Mason is such an inspiring, strong, kind woman. I don’t have enough words to describe how I admire her so much. I am so grateful she showed me the path to Story Listening to help you, my dear learners acquire French effortlessly.

Beniko Mason says “learners need to receive a massive amount of rich compelling (highly interesting) comprehensible language input in order to make good process in acquiring a language.

That is exactly what I try to do with the videos on my YouTube channel and with this month challenge: en mai, fais du français !

I believe that by watching my videos every day, you will improve. TRUST THE PROCESS.

This week’s video is a 25 minutes story from Sénégal, a francophone country in Africa. In many African countries people speak French. The other day, I was reading an interesting article about French becoming the world’s most spoken language by 2050, thanks to growing francophone populations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Do you want to know more about Sénégal? Jennifer Hoban, a Middle School French teacher in the US has compiled tons of wonderful resources (articles, songs, readings…) about French Speaking Africa and especially Sénégal.

Did you know that the French spoken in Sénégal has different words and expressions to describe things? My favourite one is the verb dallaser which comes from the American TV series Dallas. It means to boast, show off.

I love hearing from you so let me know how the challenge is going for you. Share and/or leave a comment with #coucou

Happy French acquisition!

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 :-)


French the natural way: en mai, fais du français !

Coucou les French learners,

Le mois de mai, May is fast approaching!

Do you remember last year, same time? I was explaining you the popular French dicton, saying ” En mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît “, in May do what pleases you.

Le challenge du mois de mai

Last year, I challenged you to do an activity you are passionate about in French! This year, I have another special challenge for you! I have created un calendrier du mois de mai, a May calendar. So far, you may think there is nothing special about a calendar.. Well, this calendar is special because each day of the coming month, I challenge you to watch one of my videos.

Focus on comprehensible French input everyday!

Listen to a fun story.

Discover a beautiful part of France.

Read a book with me.

Listen to a magical tale.


Can you raise the challenge? Here is le calendrier, the calendar:

Download the calendar or save the picture to your device. Invite a friend or loved one to join you for the month.

I will also assemble the playlist on YouTube on Monday 30th April so you can start on Tuesday 1st May, which is by the way la Fête de Travail, Labour Day in France and all over Europe… So logically, people don’t work on that day!

I have to confess, I copied my number one yoga teacher, Adriene. Each month, she publishes a calendar with one yoga video for each day of the month. It really helps me to keep up with my yoga morning routine. I thought it would be brilliant to do the same with French and that is why I came up with ” En mai, fais du français ” (do you like the play on words?).

So to recap, there is a YouTube playlist on the channel. You can save the calendar and check off each day as you go or you can follow along with the playlist. The new videos (or Nouveau !) are released on Saturdays. When you have watched a video, share it on Social Media with #coucou. That way, you make yourself accountable and we can support and motivate each other!

I am super exciting about this and I hope you are too!!! I hope to see many #coucou from next Tuesday on!

Toujours en Bretagne

This week, I continue my little voyage in the beautiful Bretagne. And I take you to a capel which is very dear to me and my family for many reasons (my in-laws celebrated their 40th year anniversary there).

To understand France and the French, you have to visit the many religious sites: capels, churches, cathedrals because before la Révolution française (which had its positives AND negatives), France was governed by kings and queens who referred directly to God. France was la fille aînée de l’église, the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church. It meant France was the most faithful country to Rome and the Pope. The French before becoming laïcs, secular were Catholic. That is why it is so important for me to share the religious aspect with you.

It is also important to share it with my family. As you know, we live in Germany but I want my children to know where they come from, in order for them to know where they are going. I am forever grateful to my parents, family and teachers to have taught me about the religious symbols and history of France. So that, when I visit a church, I know what is what and who is who. It is a bit like a detective game, we enter a church with my children and we guess who is the statue or who is on the painting by the symbols they are wearing. Because as I mentioned in a previous post, a language is much more than words, it is a culture, a tradition, a history.

All that to say that in this new video, I take you to an adorable capel and I explain to you some of the symbols of catholicism. I hope you enjoy it!

I love hearing from you so let me know in the comments if you have a special place (church, museum, park…) worth the visit?

Happy French acquisition!

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 :-)

French the natural way: youpi, c'est le printemps !

Coucou les French learners,

There is une vague de chaleur, a heatwave going on here, in Europe and we are enjoying the beautiful weather!

Le printemps, spring is really blossoming. It is beautiful out here! Actually, Spring and the blossoming nature is a bit like language acquisition.

Many of my learners are blooming too. They keep listening and reading comprehensible and compelling French input. It is a bit like watering a plant or looking after them.

Des pavots dans mon jardin.

During our sessions, they listen to me with the intent to understand me. When I ask them a question in French, they understand it but they usually answer in their mother tongue.

It is OK! They will answer in French when they are ready. I do not push them to speak in French, I wait patiently and keep giving them input. I keep providing French input which interests them and at the same time, input which they understand. And at one point, they blossom. In French, we use the word éclore. They comprehend more and more input, they can read more complicated stuff. And then, to my amazement they speak French, output comes out effortlessly!

Un parterre de fleurs !

My best feedback this week is from a young boy I meet weekly. We talk about what he enjoys playing with, mostly we talk about Lego and we invent stories involving cars and trucks. He usually answers me in English but from time to time, he speaks in French. His Mum wrote: “J. is reading right now “ Brandon Brown dit la verité ” and he loves it. Before he started classes with you he could not read at that level and understand the story. He read the first Brandon book, but this one was too advanced for him.

Le mois d’avril

Although it is warm and sunny, there is a popular French saying “ en avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil “. Thomas from Français immersion explains what this dicton means in a short video here.

There is also this beautiful poem by Gérard de Nerval entitled ” Avril “. It describes the transition between l’hiver, winter and le printemps, spring. Read it, as well as the analysis and the life of the poet in this document I compiled just for you!

Le cerisier depuis la fenêtre de ma cuisine.

What is avril, April for you? I asked my small group of girls learning French and they came up with: le barbecue, le vélo, le trampoline, les fleurs, le soleil, la glace…

What about you? Leave your French words in the comments below.

Le jardin

At the start of the month, I was in Bretagne, France and I did a tour around the beautiful garden of my parents in law. My mother in law has la main verte and she loves gardening. She even won a prize for the prettiest garden in her village!

I hope you enjoy learning about the plants and also about this traditional cure people drink from le bouleau, the birch!

Happy French acquisition!

P.S. My Dear Man & I are still working hard at the moment to bring you the best French resources online via stories and podcasts! So there will be ONE new video weekly every weekend from now one.

P.P.S. Be sure to watch me reading the authentic fable by Jean de La Fontaine about le rat de ville et le rat des champs. And watch the simplified version here.

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