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 :-)

 

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