French Input

French the natural way: is speaking good enough?

Coucou les French learners,

It is that time of the year when we remember our past and our ancestors. On Monday, the French commemorated the end of la Première Guerre Mondiale, the First World War, also called l’Armistice. Last year’s newsletter was all about that special day.

To understand better this part of History, French teacher Amy Rake Parsons shared this informative and comprehensible presentation about the Great War based on the article by Le Petit Quotidien (you can listen to it too!).


La tombe du soldat inconnu sur la Place de l’Etoile à Paris.

Le dormeur du val, written by young and gifted poet Arthur Rimbaud describes a young soldier who seems to be sleeping peacefully in a field. Rimbaud wrote this poem when he was only 16 years old. He didn’t see the tragic Great War but he was deeply moved by the first war confronting the French against the Prussians in 1870. La Bataille de Sedan marked the defeat of the French. Rimbaud lived in Charleville, just 25 kilometers away from where the battle took place. This poem is one of the most famous poems written by Rimbaud and such a beautiful one.


L’homme blessé de Gustave Courbet.

I remember learning it when I was at school. I had to recite it. Poetry recitation was part of the French education and I must say I can still remember some verses of famous poems I had to learn by heart. As a child, the teacher would call my name and I would have to stand up in front of the whole class and recite the poem. It was quite a nerve raking experience but it would also give a sense of pride… Once it was over!

I was and am fluent in French so having to recite a poem did have some benefits. However having to speak when you are not fluent in a language is not good enough!

SPEAK when you are READY

Having to speak in French or in another language when you are not ready DOES NOT facilitate language acquisition. In his paper about Comprehensible Output (download it here: comprehensible_output), Dr Krashen cites that “10 “anxious” foreign language students interviewed by Price (1991) stated that their greatest source of anxiety was having to speak the target language in front of their peers. Another source of stress was the frustration of not being able to communicate effectively.

Forced output where you have to use structures and words you have not yet acquired does not lead to fluency. In order to acquire the new structures and words, you need INPUT. In his paper, Dr. Krashen goes on by stating “numerous studies that confirm that we can develop extremely high levels of language and literacy competence without any language production at all.

#inputaloneissufficient

Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to speak French! It means your brain has not yet received sufficient comprehensible input.

One online learner told me she already watched Season 1, first 14 stories. Words and sentences such as ” Il y a un garçon ” or ” Elle est contente ” come out of her mouth naturally, without thinking. What an achievement! This particular learner did not rehearse those sentences out loud, she “just” watched my videos.

I also find myself speaking German now whenever I watch Kathrin Shechtman wonderful videos. She will start a sentence and I will NATURALLY finish her sentence! There is no pressure. I feel SAFE. If you are acquiring German like me, then watch this story and you will hear this girl at the back of the class speaking German naturally because she ENJOYS the stories. She knows Kathrin will not call her out and force her to speak!

Take your time. Speak when you are ready to and RELAX.

ECOUTER et LIRE pour le plaisir

LISTENING and READING comprehensible input is the KEY. Speaking is the RESULT of listening and reading. Speaking is not good enough. Speaking does not lead to language acquisition. Listening and reading DOES.

#trusttheprocess

I have just finished recording a compelling story in collaboration with French teacher and writer, Theresa Marrama. I had so much fun reading out loud this intriguing story based on the werewolf legend in Louisiana! I hope you will feel the fear and mystery when you listen to the audio book available on the membership! I also try to read the story slowly and to pronounce distinctly to allow you to comprehend the story.

The book, Une disparition mystérieuse tells the story of Alice (!) whose best friend mysteriously disappeared in the marshes of Louisiana. Will an old Louisiana legen come to life? This story is truly compelling and comprehensible. PERFECT to acquire French effortlessly.

This is another fruitful collaboration with Theresa. I already recorded her cute book, Léo et Anton which you can listen to when you are a member of the French learners community.

More audio books are on the way and Theresa Marrama told me she is just finishing a new book you will LOVE for sure!

MORE comprehensible French input coming your way!!!

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. Les aventures de Marie et Médor à Paris continue until the end of the month. Free videos to watch every Wednesday and Saturday. YOUPI! To have access to the video scripts, be sure to subscribe for as little at 4.75 Euros/month.


French the natural way: pas de panique ! How to relax in 3 steps

Coucou les French learners,

C’est déjà la fin du mois d’octobre, oh non ! Le temps passe vite ! It is already the end of October, time passes by quickly!


“Time passes by. And each time time passes by, something fades” by Jules Romain, French poet and writer.

This Friday 1st November, the French celebrate la Toussaint , all the saints. They go to le cimetière, the cemetery to put flowers on the graves and to honor the deaths.

Demain, dès l’aube is a famous and beautiful poem written by Victor Hugo after the sudden death of her daughter Léopoldine. She drowned in la Seine with her husband. At the time, Hugo was in the South of France, in the Pyrenees. He found out about her daughter’s death 4 days after the accident, in the newspaper! He then stopped writing for 3 years.

Read the poem here, the pictures will help you understand it. Also watch this surprising adaption of the poem.

Previously, I wrote about overcoming your fear of speaking French (or another language). As darker days are coming, how do you overcome your fear of not understanding French?

RESTER CALME

Most of my online French learners start to panic as soon as they don’t understand a word; or when they don’t understand 90% of a story. This is NORMAL. However, in order to acquire the new language subconsciously, you must RELAX. Therefore, it is important to ACCEPT you will not understand everything.

Your affective filter must be low. Your brain must be in the right conditions to receive the new language AND then to process it AND store the new linguistic data. When you are relaxed and you are enjoying the process, your brain is able to do all this work without you noticing it. However, when you are panicking, your brain shuts down. You start noticing words or structures which are difficult to translate in your native language. You panic and your brain cannot process the novelty.

STAY CALM. ACCEPT the NOVELTY.


After the storm, comes the calm.

RESPIRER

You must create the conditions to STAY CALM.

Before you start listening to a story or reading a book in French, BREATHE in and out. Breathing is powerful. It reduces anxiety. Now you may think it has nothing to do with acquiring French! However having oxygen in your brain, will give you the right start to process the new language and accept the novelty.

I used breathing techniques and games when I used to teach in schools. Lion breath was a favorite because it was fun too. I also like nostril breathing which is a yoga practice. These tools allow you to LET GO and FOCUS.

According to Sheryl Ankrom in verywellmind, ” Improper breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in your blood cells and contribute to anxiety and even panic attacks.

The easiest way to determine your breathing pattern is to put one hand on your upper abdomen near the waist and the other in the middle of your chest. As you breathe, notice which hand raises the most. If you’re breathing properly, your abdomen should expand and contract with each breath (and the hand on it should raise the most).”

To RELAX, to ACCEPT the new language and to acquire French in the BEST conditions:

  1. ” Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little.
  2. Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
  3. Repeat this breathing exercise for several minutes.

You AND your BRAIN are now READY to listen to a story or to read a French reader. But remember NO need to study. Let the new language sink in. ENJOY the process.

#inputaloneissufficient

ACQUERIR

Once you are STRESS FREE, you can choose a COMPELLING and COMPREHENSIBLE story to read and listen to. The MORE you read & listen, the MORE you understand, the MORE you acquire French effortlessly.

DO NOT PANIC when you don’t understand a word, your GOAL is to understand the story. Each week I compile for you a list of stories which you can comprehend and which are on a variety of topics. Some are made up stories, others are tales or folktales, and others are myths. Other texts are not stories, they are biographies, cultural facts or the video scripts.

This week’s cultural free video is about coffee in France and ordering coffee in a café. You have access to the script and you can listen to my Dear Man reading it when you join the French learners community.

When you are a member, the week usually starts with a story aimed at beginners. But even if you are not a beginner, it will boost your confidence because you will find the story easy to understand. It will help you NOT to panic.

As the week goes by, stories become longer and more advanced but DO NOT PANIC, read and listen with the intent to understand the gist of the story.

When you start panicking, STOP. CHOOSE another easier story. Type “easy”, “beginner”, “facile”, “upper beginner”, “débutant”, “débutant avancé”… in the search box and look for another story.

Remember: PAS DE PANIQUE ! Stay calm, accept, breathe, acquire.

#trustheprocess

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. I am recording a new audio book! In partnership with Theresa Marrama, Une disparition mystérieuse will be available soon to listen to on the membership area. You will discover a mystery that has haunted the marshes of Louisiana for years! Because Louisiana used to be a French state. STAY TUNED!


French the natural way: how to speak confidently in 5 steps

Coucou les French learners,

Il pleut, il pleut bergère… It is raining, it is raining sheperdess…


I would have given my head to be cut that it would be a nice day today!

It is a popular song for children which has its origins in a French opera or opéra comique written in 1780 by Fabre d’Églantine.
When you listen to the song and you read les paroles, the lyrics, the shepherdess refers to the French queen Marie-Antoinette who loved to play the shepherdess in the Hameau de la reine of the Palace of Versailles. The rain and the storm coming could be an allusion to the troubles that led to the French Revolution. Some years later, d’Églantine hummed it on his way to the guillotine!

It is actually raining a lot here in Portugal. It is damp and cold! Looking at the window whilst writing the newsletter, I am longing for a ray of sunshine and a beautiful rainbow! Pourquoi pas ?

Right now, speaking German confidently seems as distant as a rainbow and you may feel the same about speaking French with confidence, n’est-ce pas ?

However, I am 100% confident I will get there and so you will. Comment ? How?

Follow those 5 simple steps!

#trusttheprocess

ACCEPTE

ACCEPT that French is bizarre ! French is a weird language (like any other languages, even your mother tongue!). Of course, there are many grammar rules and you will find patterns in the French structures. But most of the times, there are exceptions to the rules! And often times, French doesn’t make sense at all!

For example, if we have a look at French spelling and pronunciation, they don’t match: why is “-eau” prononced “-o” ? And why is “-ent” at the end of a conjugated verb in the present tense like “ ils aiment ” not pronounced at all?

It is easy to want to find an explanation to every single weirdness and it is easy to get stuck on trying to speak French properly. Instead of trying to find a reason for everything, MOVE ON & ENJOY!

Remember a language is a tool to communicate. When people in front of you understand what you are trying to say, you win!

CHANGE

La mentalité, the mentality you have makes a big difference between failure and SUCCESS.

Change the way you think of yourself: instead of thinking: ” j’apprends le Français, j’étudie le Français… I am learning French, I am studying French “, think: ” j’aime le Français, je parle français… I love French, I speak French“.

Your ATTITUDE is KEY. It will make you feel more confident and help you use the French you already know more effectively.

PRENDS DES RISQUES

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, TAKE RISKS!

  

Remember, the French language is only a TOOL to communicate. Although French people have the reputation of not being very tolerant with errors, I can guarantee they will appreciate you making an effort to speak French!

ECOUTE

In order to speak well, you must LISTEN well!

Speaking is the RESULT of listening to French input you COMPREHEND. When you listen to native-French speakers, focus on understanding the MESSAGE. Do not focus on understanding what every single word means, focus on the MESSAGE.

The MORE you listen, the EASIER it gets to understand, the MORE confident you are to speak French.

My new series of videos on YouTube is perfect to listen and try to understand language which may be slightly above your level. The story this week is about Marie and her dog Médor wandering in the streets on Paris and meeting a talking statue! When you watch the story, you are encouraged to use natural learning strategies such as guessing words from the drawings, gestures, context and inferring meaning.

Remember, DO NOT get stuck if you don’t understand a specific word, MOVE ON. Your goal is to understand the STORY.

The script is available to read when you become a member! PLUS you get to listen to my Dear Man‘s voice reading the script! Watch the video and read & listen to the script or read & listen to the script and watch the video.

LIS

Reading is POWERFUL.

Reading is THE big advantage we have over babies and toddlers acquiring their mother tongue. It enables you to acquire new vocabulary and structures subconsciously.

You don’t need to study! Put the grammar textbook away and read for pleasure instead. ENJOY!

Start reading short texts first. Subscribe and get access to hundreds of comprehensible and compelling stories. For as little as 4.75 per month, read AND listen to all kind of stories. There are new stories EACH WEEK so you never get bored! Have a look at the tutorials to see how it works.

Read and listen to one of the new stories this week. It is a fun one with high frequency structures: Eric is vegan but things don’t go as well at a Thai restaurant in Paris!

A member of the French learners community, Marsha Kelly commented on the story: “Fun story. Love your narration. It is so clear and well spoken. Your speech helps me practice my pronunciation. Merci.

#abonnetoi

Claire Walter is so generous to write and publish for free books in simple French adapted for language learners. To celebrate Indigenous People Day on Monday, a new FREE reader is now available to read, Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson. It is the story of a Native American woman and it is adapted in comprehensible and compelling French.

#inputaloneissufficient

You see, it is SIMPLE: accept, change, take risks, listen & read!

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: 3 tips to acquire French

Coucou les French learners,

c’est l’automne, fall is on its ways!


“Fall is the spring of winter”, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

I miss the beautiful Ilm park in Weimar and the forest in Thuringia, Germany at this time of the year!

Read and listen to this beautiful poem written by Michel Beau. 

It is one of the many poems, tales, fables, short stories, biogaphies and articles available when you become a member.

That is all YOU need to acquire French naturellement et avec plaisir ! Based on my experience:

here are my 3 tips to become fluent in French. Vous êtes prêts ? are you ready?

LISTEN

When I was attending the Agen conference for language teachers in 2018, Judith Dubois showed this clip to her English learners. It is taken from the movie the 13th warrior and it shows how actor, Antonio Banderas learns the language of his companions after night upon night of listening to their stories. This scene proves the point. FIRST thing is to LISTEN, ECOUTER.

Listen to COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT, meaning input you understand. You don’t need to understand all the details (100%) but you should understand the overall message (80-90% depending how well you tolerate the parts you don’t get). When you understand the message, your brain is subconsciously acquiring the NEW language.

My new series of videos on YouTube is a good starting point to listen with the INTENT to understand. Watch and listen to short and fun stories about Marie and her dog Médor who live in Paris. Every Saturday, listen to a new story. I speak slowly, I draw on the board and I do gestures in order to HELP you understand the story.

The script is available to read when you become a member! PLUS you get to listen to my Dear Man‘s voice reading the script! Watch the video and read & listen to the script or read & listen to the script and watch the video.

Every Wednesday, you can watch and listen to another video explaining a bit of French culture in slow French and with pictures to HELP you understand. Again the scripts read by my Dear Man are available on the membership area.

READ

Next step is to read. Reading in French is challenging because spelling doesn’t match pronunciation. That is why it is SO important to listen a lot at  first so you get used to the French pronunciation.

Keep listening to audio books. Léon et Anton written by Theresa Marrama is available to listen to on the membership area. It is perfect for beginners.

Start reading short texts first. Subscribe and get access to hundreds of comprehensible and compelling stories. For as little as 4.75 per month, read AND listen to all kind of stories. There are new stories EACH WEEK so you never get bored!

Read French readers, chapter books written for French learners. Claire Walter was so generous to write and publish for free books in simple French adapted for language learners. Start reading those books because you may already know the stories in your own language so it will be easier for you to follow the story.

#inputaloneissufficient

ENJOY

Acquiring a language is NOT a chore! It is a JOURNEY.

A journey of discoveries, a JOYFUL experience!

Last week I received the best comment ever. A member of the French learners community, Marsha Kelly wrote to me: “I tried Duolingo and the expensive Rosetta Stone. Neither helped. Yours (the membership) is much more useful and fun.

Find something you enjoy in French. By something I mean find CONTENT you enjoy reading and listening in French. Speaking (and writing) is the RESULT of receiving enough comprehensible and COMPELLING input.

You see, it is SIMPLE: listen, read & enjoy!

#trusttheprocess

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: le déclic

Coucou les French learners,

j’ai eu le déclic ! I clicked!

I love my journey acquiring German. I have finally found resources on and off line which I enjoy and which I understand. It is no longer a burden to get myself reading or listening to German, I ENJOY it!


“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing” Coco Chanel.

Vous aimez ” l’aventure ” pour acquérir le Français ? Do you enjoy your journey acquiring French?

L’astuce

J’ai une confession, I have a confession: I don’t spend a lot of time on German each day. In fact I don’t count the time I spend, I count the videos I watch and the books I read.

C’est l’astuce ! This is the trick!

#inputaloneissufficient

At first, I was counting the minutes I was spending each day acquiring German but it depressed me. It was very tedious to record the time I was spending watching a video or reading a book and sometimes I was even forgetting about it. It was also depressing to see I was only spending 10 minutes a day on getting German input.

So I decided to change it and to record WHAT I was watching or reading. It changes everything! To me, it is MUCH more motivating to find out I have already read 5 German readers and I have watched all of Katrin Schechtman videos on YouTube.

I already mentioned in a previous newsletter that what matters is CONSISTENCY, not time. Of course, you need to find something that really interests you and which you can understand mostly (maybe not 100% but minimum 80%).

At first when you have not yet reached an intermediate level, best is to look for stories (fables, children books, tales, folktales). Our human brains are addicted to stories, everyone loves a good story.

Our brains store the new words effortlessly and permanently because they generate multiple connections. Therefore you become fluent without stress.


Les histoires de Petit Ours Brun

That is WHY my dear man and I launched the membership. BECAUSE we want YOU to have access to good comprehensible stories.

For as little as 4.75EUR/month, you have access to many interesting stories which you can read AND listen to. If you are dyslexic, there is a dyslexic mode which you can use to read the stories at ease. Have a look at all the NEW stories for this week:

When you are not sure what to look for, you have a plan for the week with one story a day. These are this week’s suggestions:

What are you waiting for?

Boost your French. Be part of the French learners community. JOIN now!

Le déclencheur

Le déclencheur, the trigger in my German journey has been the one to one Story Listening sessions with Kathrin Schechtam. Listening to Kathrin telling me wonderful stories in German gave me the confidence and inspiration I needed to keep up acquiring on my own on a daily basis. It is not over and we have started again our online tandem where I tell Kathrin a story in Spanish and she tells me a story in German (have a look at my blog series about #Agen2019. There are many useful takeaways, tips and free resources for YOU there).

Acquiring a journey is a lonely journey and sometimes you need a little push from someone else to help you move on. But above all #trusttheprocess

Whether you are a beginner OR not, le déclencheur may to watch my stories on YouTube. I have a new series starting soon!

It is about Marie, l’artiste et son chien Médor. Back in 2017, when we started making videos, we were complete beginners! The quality was not good enough. That is why we thought of making a new series with old & new adventures and MUCH better quality. We are also adding a cultural touch to the stories and you will learn interesting facts about Paris and about France.

I can’t wait for you to WATCH them!

In the meantime, watch or re-watch Marie te Médor avant Noël

The scripts (both in the present and in the past tenses) are available to purchase here OR to download FOR FREE when you become a member.

Happy French acquisition!


I love it so much, the time left…. I want to laugh, run, cry, speak, and see, and believe, dance, shout, eat, swim, jump, disobey, I haven’t finish, fly, sing, leave, leave again, suffer, love. I love it so much the time left.Serge Reggiani.

P.S. I have been working on an exciting project together with author of French readers, Theresa Marrama! Soon the audiobook of her cute reader Léo et Anton will be available on the membership. Purchase the book here.


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