5 Tips for Newcomers Learning French

5 Tips for Newcomers Learning French

More than 3 and half years ago when I arrived in Québec, I could barely say two consecutive sentences in French. I had a rule of one sentence at
a time so I can concentrate on what I want to say. Less words means less mistakes. However, in my heart and in my mind, I knew I had to give all my efforts to learn French. From École Louis-Jolliet to the MICC program in Cégep Sainte-Foy until going to University Laval in 2011, I had to say it was not an easy journey.  To those of you, who newly arrived in Québec, are learning French, have the intention of staying in this beautiful city and want to build a career in the middle of a francophone environment, this article is for you to read.

I would like to share my experiences as I learn to speak this foreign language and what I have learned as I continue this journey to being a French speaker. Take them as tips to guide you through or an inspiration to go further.

1. Immersion is the best way to learn a new language.

There is no other great method to learn French than immersing yourself with all the French you can get.   If you immerse yourself in something that you are doing or you want to do, you become completely involved in it. Being surrounded by French- people, street signs, restaurants, news, music, books, newspapers or movies, for example helps to speed up the learning process. We learn more vocabularies and remember them well as we used them in our daily activities.

2. Realize that you need to exert extra efforts.

By this, I meant “going the extra mile” as learning a new language is not easy. We are talking here of using the language in school or at work which is beyond and indeed more than knowing the language for travel use. Obviously, it is faster and easier to communicate with your first or 2nd language, if people around you speak the same. However, if you take a pause and think in French, words will come out in French too. If you do not know the vocabulary, do not be ashamed to ask people how to say such in French.

3. Be patient and avoid comparing yourself to native speakers.

Yes, we are adults who are learning and we have work experiences and educational backgrounds of all sorts. Sometimes, posses credentials even higher than those of a typical Quebecois or any French speaker. Do not be afraid to commit errors. Remember, that even native speakers commit mistakes. However, we are learning a totally new language. We are like a child learning to speak and trying to understand things that are new to us. If we want to learn, then we should be open to people correcting us, say our pronunciation or grammar. Through this, we will have every opportunity to improve our selves.

4. Have the courage to speak.

Do not be shy to talk to people and express yourself. It is sure that as learners, there will be errors as we talk but it is the only way we can practice. By practicing in school, say in a formal education setting, we can improve. By communicating in a social setting we can improve even better as we can apply what we learned. Much more, if we give permission to people (normally, who are close to us) to correct  us whenever we say something awkward or wrong, then we are not far from perfecting the language.

5. Understand that the process involves multi-learning skills.

When we learn a new language, we are not just looking at the skills of speaking. We also develop the skills of listening, comprehension and writing. One person can be good in comprehension, meaning can understand easily if he or she is in a conversation but may be weak in oral expression as his vocabulary is limited. On the other hand, one may be an excellent speaker and pronounces words very well but is weaker in writing, meaning grammar or spelling.

Finally, believed that learning a new language, as like any other field of practice, is a never ending process. After years in Québec, I did an MBA study and is now currently working in the French-speaking public government of Quebec, the saga continues. I still learn everyday.  I still add a word or two to my vocabulary and use and practice them as frequently as I can. In fact, I recently become a member of Toastmasters International, in French, of course. Believe it or not, I have never been shy of speaking in front of even 500 people but as I learn French, I started to have butterflies in my stomach. Meaning feeling afraid or nervous that I might use the wrong words or pronounced them awkwardly.  I always knew that there will be people who will laugh at me or have difficulty in understanding what I mean to say.  But as long as I am determined to speak French, I knew I am never far from using the language faultlessly. I Hope these tips help. If can do it, you can do it. Bonne chance!

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Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Vida Delfin Verreault

Vida Delfin Verreault holds a degree in Communications and possesses more than 13 years of marketing and brand management experience from Manila, Philippines. Seven years of which as Marketing Manager in the Philippine office of an international brand of automotive parts. A marketing and communications specialist, she has travelled Europe and Asia extensively. Vida has been living in Québec City since August 2010, and is an MBA student at Université Laval. She has held various jobs in Québec and is presently working in a pharmaceutical call centre. She shares her home with her loving husband Éric and their adorable dog, Cappuccino. Together, they love to eat in restaurants and travel. Vida loves to write, read, sing, watch movies and learn about people and ideas.

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