French Input

French the natural way: 4 steps to read French books

Coucou les French learners,

The other day, I was listening to the French radio and I learned that the word livre, book comes from the Latin word liber which means free

When you read a book, you learn something new, you gain knowledge, you free yourself, you gain freedom.

This week, I also stumbled upon an another excellent quote from Stephen Krashen: “Reading for pleasure is the source of most of our literature competence.


Each of our readings leaves a seed that sprouts, Jules Renard, French author.

The month of June is coming to an end and I hope you have enjoyed following my daily readings on Instagram.

Pour la dernière newsletter de juin, for the last June newsletter, I want to share 4 simple steps to read French books and become an autonomous French reader.

Trust the process.

#inputaloneissufficient

Step One: Easy readers

Start with easy readers for beginners with the minimum unique word count. High frequency factor (the number of times core structures are embedded in the text) is also key. When you start reading easy books, you gain confidence and you do also acquire the language.

Easy readers motivate you to keep up reading French books. Each page is loaded with cognates (words that are similar in English and French), recycled vocabulary, and illustrations, which makes the books highly comprehensible. You enjoy the story. The more you enjoy it, the more you will acquire French without even realizing it!

My last video is book review which is part of my new playlist on YouTube Critique de livres, book reviews. The book I am reviewing is an easy reader with 95 unique word count. The story is simple and engaging. Although it is written for elementary students, many of my online adult learners found it funny and engaging.

Step Two: Children’s books

Read as many easy readers as you can to build up your confidence and broaden your vocabulary. Here is another example of an excellent intermediate easy reader Le vol des oiseaux by Kristy Placido. The story takes place in Cameroon, a francophone African country.

Once you have read many easy readers from beginner to upper intermediate levels, you can start reading authentic French books aimed at 6 to 12 years old.

Les aventures du Petit Nicolas depict an idealized version of childhood in 1950s France. The books are told from the point of view of Nicolas himself, which gives the book a distinct and personal sense of humor.

Step Three: adapted literature

You are now ready to read French literature but in a simplified version. CLE International offers a collection of adaptations of literature books.  For example, Le Comte de Monte-Cristo by famous French author Alexandre Dumas is full of adventures and romance.

Step Four: French novels

You are now an autonomous reader! You can read any French authentic books. You can now try the real version of Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.  Biographies are also a good choice like the life of famous French actor, Louis de Funès told by his two sons.

Just yesterday with one of my Verbling learners, we had great fun reading Ni d’Eve, ni d’Adam by Belgian author Amélie Nothomb (I love boosting my learners to read in French!).fre

Of course these are suggestions and you might jump a step or follow other steps. I really like the five finger rules by Martina Bex:

I love hearing from you so let me know in the comments the French books you have enjoyed reading.

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: boost your French!

Coucou les French learners,

I am motivated and excited about my new plan to acquire Portuguese. This weekend, I met my online Portuguese booster on Verbling, Clóvis Alves who shared lots of different ways to get input every day. I am hoping to meet him for an hour weekly and to listen to comprehensible input every day, even if it is only for 10 mins a day.

I also have a personal objective. At the end of July, I will be presenting about Story Listening at the Agen workshop and I would like to be able to tell a story in Portuguese to my audience. Having a short term achievable goal motivates me to keep up!

So far, I’m in love with this beautiful singer, Ana Moura. This song is uplifting and at the same time nostalgic, n’est-ce pas ? Don’t you think?

So today I also want to share different resources and ways to get French input everyday, even if it is only for 10 mins a day.

I really like this idea of being your French booster. To be honest, I don’t feel I am teaching French, I rather facilitate the language and motivate people to read and listen in French. I try to find the right resources which my learners will enjoy. Just yesterday, I was so happy to have found the right book for one of my learners. The book, Le gentil petit diable et autres contes de la rue Broca, is neither too difficult, nor too easy for him so he is happy to read it. This brought joy for the rest of my day!

Let me boost your French! And remember to trust the process!

Ecoute

If you don’t know Steve Kaufmann yet, I urge you to subscribe to his YouTube channel. Steve Kaufmann is 72 years old, he has learned 17 languages, 9 of those since the age of 60! His recent video about listening more to improve your speaking skills makes total sense to me. Many language learners think they should speak from the very beginning when they should expose themselves to the language first.

Watch youtubers as long as they are comprehensible enough to you. I believe videos are easier to understand than podcasts because of the images. You are also able to see the face and how the lips move which ease the comprehension. These are a big bonus to understand the message.

Français Authentique  and Français Immersion are good to start with because they speak slowly. There are videos made for French learners.

The other videos are not aimed at French learners, so the pace is faster but the content is interesting which what is what matters most.

NyCyLa is a French mum who loves in California with her French husband and daughter. She vlogs about her life there and the differences between France and the US. Her daily life is kind of interesting to follow but she speaks quite fast.

Hélène se promène is a French teacher from Québec who travels around the world. Her videos are fun and informative and you get to hear the québécois accent. Check out her website which has the transcripts, quizzes and grammar explanations.

Paparicain is an American dad living in Paris. His short videos explaining his experience as an American living the French life are very funny.

And of course my videos aim at being comprehensible as well as interesting. I try to offer a mix of stories, guided tours, recipes and (coming soon) book reviews. My last video is a Greek myth, le Roi Midas.

Lis

Last week, I shared tips to become an autonomous reader. Here are other resources you can add to your reading list:

Watch my StoryTime playlist where I read children’s books as well as fables. Reading out loud is a wonderful tool to help you learn to read smoothly and build fluency skills, continuity and confidence. This article on the benefits of reading out loud to your kids mentions that “it helps you cultivate your internal listening skills, and it build up your storehouse of words and grammatically correct phrases and sentences.

BookBox French is another brilliant channel where you will find stories synchronizing the text, audio, and visual.

I love Podcast Français Facile which offers many short texts with audio to start reading and build confidence.

And of course, StoriesFirst has a collection of stories written in totally comprehensible French. You can read Le Roi Midas here.

To acquire another language is a long process. What is most important is the journey:


David Le Breton est sociologue and anthropologue français.

Remember to check out my Instagram account where I post reading passages from French books and poems.

I love hearing from you! Let me know which videos you love to watch and which books and poems you love to read in French.

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: become an autonomous reader

Coucou les French learners,

Reading is the focus this month and I am so excited to share my bookshelf daily with you on Instagram!  One follower actually commented she didn’t know the books I was mentioning. I am thrilled to show you authors and novels you may not know! I have eclectic tastes so I am hoping you see a book you want to read yourself.


Mes étagères ( les livres ne sont pas bien rangés ! )

W.E. Nagy & P.A. Herdman mentioned in Extended Reading in the Foreign Language Classroom “Incidental learning of words during reading may be the easiest and single most powerful means of promoting large-scale vocabulary growth.”

Reading is powerful and more efficient than traditional language learning but it can be daunting at first. I already wrote a post with tips to start reading and today I want to give you more advice on how to read regularly in French (or any other languages).

Keep in mind that YOU want to become a good reader so you want to find books that you CAN read and you ENJOY. The objective is to become an autonomous reader and learner.


By Dr Beniko Mason, from Stories first workshop.

Prior to reading a book

Listen to stories. You started doing it with the May challenge: en mai, fais du français ! Keep up listening to stories to acquire more vocabulary, have better grammatical competence AND to become interested in reading on your own. Because you are listening to rich comprehensible input, reading will be easier for you. Remember, your sole goal is to comprehend the story (not to master the words).

Read texts. For example read my learners’ stories or listen to stories and then read the stories. My last story on YouTube entitled Le trou dans l’eau is based on a text you can read here.

Find blogs or Instagram accounts with topics you are interested in. One of my learners is a make up artist and she likes to follow Coline. Her Instagram account has pictures and short texts you can easily read every day. Or for instance, if you are interested in the ketogenic diet, follow this French account:

When you search for a blog or Instagram account of your interest, type in French key words such as: voyage, beauté, maman, lectures, cinéma

It takes only 1 to 5 minutes a day and little by little, your confidence will grow. You will then be ready to experience the pleasure of reading a whole book!

Read a book

Once you can easily read a page in French (without having to look for every word), you can move on to reading a book! Start with graded readers. Look for level 1 books with around 100 unique word count like Brandon Brown veut un chien (which has 120 unique word count) and then move on the levels.

It is GOOD when you read books that are easy for you because you are not struggling to read, you feel confident, you feel GOOD and you then want to read more books. Even “easy” books contain new vocabulary and grammar.

Aim for 50 to 70 pages a week, then gradually increase to 100 pages and then 150 pages per week.

Have a language booster to help you. I love to sit with my learners and to read a book together, to make sure that s/he understand. I can also make sure s/he is reading the right book, not too difficult, not too boring.

Remember, reading is a pleasure not a chore. Le plaisir de la lecture, pleasure reading is your sole goal.

Here is the most beautiful comment I received lately: “You don’t learn French in an academic way but you feel the words in your soul“.

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 :-)

P.P.S. Yesterday, I posted a new video of a simple recipe of a crustless quiche with spinach & feta, hope you enjoy it! Let me know #coucou


French the natural way: you did it!

Coucou les French learners,

Félicitations !!! You did it!

Bravo

Je suis folle de joie, I am overjoyed! You watched 31 videos in French every day for 31 days! It is amazing!

 

J’ai une surprise pour toi ! To congratulate you, I am awarding you with a certificate of accomplishment.

Download it herecertificat_challenge_Mai_FR.

Print it.

Frame it.

Take a selfie with it.

Share it.

#coucou

Even if you did not do it all, even if you are still doing it, don’t give up. Share your journey. Trust the process.

I love hearing from you so let me know how your journey was: do you understand French better now? Do you find it easier to listen to a whole story in French? Do you feel less “anxious” when you don’t understand every word but you got the story?

En juin, lis en français !

Now that you have listened to 31 French videos, you are ready for the next step: read French.

This month, I will be posting reading passages from French books on Social Media.

Check out my Instagram account to read something interesting in French each day.


Aujourd’hui, un extrait de Léon, sur le chantier de la Tour Eiffel🗼de Dominique Joly

Ask me questions if you don’t understand a word or expression.

Share if you like the text or if you struggle to understand it.

#coucou

I am so excited about this new challenge. I am YOUR French booster!

Stay tuned as I am still releasing a new video every Saturday: stories, tales, recipes, guided tours and book reviews!

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: my big fail!

Coucou les French learners,

I hope you enjoyed the three part series from my previous posts about how to acquire another language:

  1. Trust the process
  2. Relax
  3. Enjoy

Easy to do, right? Well… I have a confession to make: I failed to acquire German!

How I failed with German

How? To be honest, when I moved to Germany, I neither knew anything about the 3 steps above nor did I know about Comprehensible Input.

Although, I was so lucky (Merci Papa et Maman !) to become fluent in Spanish by immersing myself in Zaragoza, Spain for half a year, I hadn’t made the connection yet between input and acquisition! I had been trained as a language teacher to teach the traditional way and so I thought I would do the same to learn (NOT acquire) German!

First, I thought I would prepare myself and review the bit of German I had learned at school for two years. My experience at school was very negative because I lived in the Alsace region, next to Germany and most of my friends understood alsacien, which is a dialect very similar to German. Whilst I was struggling to understand the teacher, the rest of the class was cruising. My affective filter was very high!

Prior to moving to Germany, I therefore reviewed and acquired basic German with the Michel Thomas method. At the time, I liked his approach because its focus is on acquiring high frequency words. However, it is also relies on translating everything because the goal is to reconstruct the language for yourself and to form your own sentences. I like the goal but the mean to the goal focuses too much on conscious learning. It did nevertheless helped me to cope with very basic day to day situations.


Heureuse de faire du vélo en Allemagne ! Happy to ride my bike in Germany!

When I arrived in Germany, I thought I would mingle with german people and I would become fluent in a few months like I did in Spain. I was wrong! The conditions were very different! I had a family and job. I was teaching Spanish at an international school where the language of instruction is English. All day long, I would speak Spanish and/or speak and hear English. When I was home, I would speak French with my family. So there was little time left to immerse in German!

I was so caught up in my new exciting job (I was the first and only Spanish teacher at the school and I set up the whole program by myself) that I didn’t make an effort to find time to acquire German.


Teaching Comprehensible Spanish!

I could go on and on about how I am not fluent in German but the truth is I am still a beginner despite having lived 7 years in Germany!

Bottom line is I didn’t get enough Comprehensible Input. I didn’t trust the process.

What I learned from it?

How could have I done it differently? Looking back, I should have dedicated much more time to getting comprehensible input. I thought that listening to my German colleagues in the staff room would be enough. But it was not comprehensible enough to me and it was very limited!

I also tried Duolingo and Memrise to learn more vocabulary but again, there were just flashcards and words on their own. They were not connected to a story, They were not rich input.

I still want to become fluent in German but I know it is going to take longer than I anticipated. Acquiring another language (when you are not full-time at it) is a long process.

I have now another priority: to acquire Portuguese. This time, my plan is to:

  • watch comprehensible videos on YouTube. I am already watching a Brazilian woman, Mai Bella who lives in Porto and I can understand 90% of what she is saying. I also follow the Transylvania Girl who is Romanian but speaks totally comprehensible Portuguese to me! She is so interesting, I love listening to her!
  • read , read, read (I still need to find the right book to start with)!
  • get a language booster. I believe that the main reason why I failed to acquire German is because I lacked motivation. I was alone and I needed someone to boost me! I want to find a Portuguese teacher who will find compelling and interesting resources for me (for example the right book!). I will meet him or her once a week so that I can maintain a natural Portuguese conversation with someone real!

Language booster!!!

What do you think? Is it a realistic plan? I love hearing from you so let me know about your own experience.

Living in Germany

Although I AM frustrating (and ashamed) because I cannot go into deep conversations in German with my neighbours and friends, I deeply enjoy the way of life in Weimar, Germany. I am also grateful and proud of my own children. They are fluent in German and they get to experience German life to the fullest!

This week’s video is is a guided tour of a beautiful castle and garden near where I live. Weimar is a town you MUST visit when you go to Germany as it is filled with history and culture.

We are 3 days away from the end of the May challenge !!! I can’t believe it!!! C’est IN-CROY-ABLE !!!

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 :-)

 


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