Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Speak French Effortlessly!

 There are many simple-minded ways to bone up on your French without private tutoring or fancy classes before you travel.
1.Rent/borrow French films.
Play them over & over so you can practically act out the dialogue. You'll absorb a lot.
2.Set your rented English-speaking films to dubbed-in-French with Eng subtitles. Or as Jill of Mad About Macarons says set the titles to French, the better to hear/see the expressions. Jill’s way to to soak up French effortlessly.
 3.There are loads of online French radio stations you can listen to. I like On Va Deguster/France Inter, because they talk about food (what else is worth talking about?). Very casual & conversational - experience the way real people speak. A once-a-week podcast you can listen to on your iPod - I'm listening now.

 4.This little book called out to me yesterday in Rizzoli's

 Ridiculously simple-minded and yet I was surprised how helpful French Slanguage is. Who knew?

 5. Read French kid's books. You can not go wrong with Babar - a French classic
 What I wouldn't give to write French écriture...drool...drool
 6. Become a fan of French 'BDs' - une Bande dessinée/comic books. Many are sophisticated, witty & for adults. I also like the learning-to-read series for kids. You can subscribe to J'AIME LIRE. Sometimes you'll find them in the foreign section of better magazine shops in the US
 You'll always find kid's BDs at the Relay in Paris. Go into a relay in a train station like Gare Montparnasse. For some unknown reason you're allowed to read to your hearts content without buying a thing. At non-train station kiosks/newstands you're lucky if they let you pick it up to purchase. C'est la vie
 8.In your hotel room or appart I suggest avoiding the TV - too consuming a distraction though not bad for background noise = immersion 
 9. Listening to the radio news non-stop is perfect from the moment you wake up till shut-eye. It will do a world of good- French immersion of the best kind. I'm partial to France Bleu and NRJ - my guilty pleasure is trashy French pop. You can pick up a lot having it in the background. Your accent, which let's face it, is EVERYTHING in France, will improve. Grammaire (and spelling) you can wreck as long as you sound good in France 🇫🇷 👍
 10.Hang out in Kid's bookstores - another kind of immersion. La Sardine A Lire 4, rue Colette 75017
 Books are superbly designed and simply written for 3-5 year olds. L'Enfant Lyre 17,rue Saint Sebastien 75011
 Just my level of French advancement.
11.Hang around parks, pretend to read, keep your ears open to what kiddies are yelling.
You'll pick up, "J'arrive"(I'm coming) + other useful short sentences.
I cannot forget hearing a mom say to her kiddie on rue Dauphine,
"Qu'est que tu fait comme ca, toi?"(What do you think you're doing, you?) Meaning basically STOP THAT! Expressions overheard have a way of sticking in your head more than lessons learned off a page.
 12. For more advanced and au courant lecons turn to illustrator Soledad Bravi's cartoon books. She writes about frustrations of the Paris sales/soldes. Soledad is hilarious on the struggles to get thin, avoid French pastries, squeeze into bathing suits - struggles we can all relate to.
 Well there you have what you need to pick up enough French to get by. In fact you'll sound quite au courant if you can manage these little techniques.
 Every trip I stop into Anne Maisonneuve for another macaron T-shirt on 112 boulevard Raspail 75006. They're quite the conversation-stopper. Even Chef Marthe asked me where I'd gotten mine and she lives 2 Metros stops away
I got the scarf (14 €), necklace(19 €), T-shirt(30 €) thereI only buy black. I'm a New Yorker. 
13.This outfit breaks down language barriers. Now if I only understood what Parisians are saying back to me?!


  1. I'm a big fan of Fr2 News...think you mentioned it earlier.


  2. Of course the other even more fun and interesting way to learn the language, and all things French, will be to follow you around once you make that BIG MOVE.

    1. Those are all great ideas. One other option I found is to learn french online as well.

  3. Some really great advice. My sister and I are going to France in September if all goes as planned. We both took French Immersion until we had to move to a smaller town that didn't offer it. We both lost a lot of French but I think we just need to start reading french books again and practiquer!

    The Wanderfull Traveler

    1. There was a young girl on a foodie tour who'd had tons of immersions classes and was crushed no one would respond to her in anything but English.

      I'm a big believer in DIY to pick up the nuances of French that classes leave out out of the recipe.
      It's more about developing your EAR IMHO. And you won't get that when surrounded with other French newbies.
      Listening over and over helps tune up your ear to certain sounds and cadences.
      Try out On Va Deguster for a bit instead of class.

  4. Anonymous12:26 PM

    er..what about a Frenchie boyfriend for immersion?
    course since the French DON'T date I'm not sure how you swing that one..?

  5. Love this...will def be looking for Fr. Slanguage...oddly, the other day, I bought Carla Bruni's Quelqu'un Ma Dit on iTunes and apparently it's included on something called Learn French Through Music...Sublingual...anyway...I just like the song and her voice...

    1. GeriNJ
      Here's a lovely Carla video of
      Carla Bruni - L'Amoureuse

      bonne chance with your emergencie.

  6. Oops..hi again ~ and congratulations on your decision to relocate to Paris! A family emergency has brought me to Miami and I have just read your older post. Lucky adventursome you!

  7. LOVE the macaron T-shirt!!
    must track down Anee Maisonneuve in Paris.
    merci Annie

  8. .. good tips .. I always watch French TV, it's much easier to catch on, but only in the AM while I am getting ready for dans le rue ... and at the end of the day when you are too tired to move (their evening talk shows are especially good) ... are you really going to move to Paris, seriously fab? .... and omg, what is it about Carla that we all love? ... bonjour, great post as usual

  9. Elizabeth4:15 PM

    Fun to read your tips.
    I'm not sure if you didn't like TV in French or English.

    French TV offers some really great shows. Esp. for learning French. I enjoy the (idiotic) game shows in the early evening. For example, the takeoff on "Password" can be informative. I have found other good ones in the past, but they change all the time.
    At the moment, my favorite channel) is TV5 which offers terrific cultural reporting. The program "C a vous" has introduced me to many cultural events happening in Paris at the moment. Granted the shows can be challenging, but if one wants to hear the sound of French in the background, they do work for that.

    Commercials are a very good way to learn French as well as what I call "talking heads." Politicians esp. use good diction and aim their content to the common (i.e. not so well-educated) people.
    Glad you had such a good time. I'm planning to go exploring in the 11e soon. I've never spent any time there.

    1. I'm not all that keen on TV except for a few things...
      It's so easy to sit there like a lump and become anestizised(sp)
      With radio it's sucked rt into your brain- effortlessly. Especially if you repeat and repeat like 'sleep learning'
      And you can do other stuff, even walk around.
      I know Fr5 is great.
      In fact I can never figure out the remotes - it happens everytime to me.
      c'est la vie

  10. The "See Voo Play" looks like an easy way to learn.
    I know that I grew up always hearing how difficult it was to learn (and pronounce) French. In high school many opted for Spanish because it was supposed to be easier. I think that we are brainwashed that French is almost impossible.

    1. ain't that the truth Nikon.
      opted for Italian instead of French
      I think they're all the same in the end depending on your ear and musical abilities

  11. I really really like that T-shirt. Tres chic!

  12. The joy of having a teenager daughter who is in to music and the pop scene is you get to listen to NRJ and to watch M6. M6 is good - listen to music and watch some good tv programs. I agree with Elizabeth. There are some good cultural shows on France2 and France3 which are easy to listen to. One thing that helped us was the meteo, especially if you flick from channel to channel, starting with the local one on France 3 at 19.20.

    Are you really making the big jump? Does that mean we might one day be able to meet?

    1. many great ideas Clare,

      but I prefer to have it pouring into my ears via headphones nonstop.
      a nonthinking method - like sleep learning perhaps?

  13. I need to get a copy of French Slanguage!!! It works!!!

  14. oh i didn't know this program On va déguster...sounds great! Carole, another radio program you might like is : On ne parle pas la bouche pleine (one doesn't eat with the mouth full), on France Culture, every saturday at 12.30pm - it's about food of course, seen by artists, writers....
    I think subtitled movies is a great way to learn languages...Joyeuses Pâques Carole!

  15. Carol, you always have good things to learn...thanks! I am enjoying listening to On Va Déguster.

  16. You are just too funny Carol! I can never get tired of your blog.
    When is your book coming out? I want to be the first one to get it.

    1. I LOVE U Simony!!! : )
      Gawd only knows when I'll get ZE BOOK done?
      First I gotta get an agent (very possible)
      And a publisher
      But at least I got my concept on track this last Paris trip!!

  17. Well now you sound good AND look good, with your perfected movie-inspired accents and your macaron wear.

    Thanks for all the language tips. I'll have lots of practice, speaking French to Harry.

  18. .. BOOK ??? .. and our Carol is being very coy about moving to Paris ... it's your privilege my dear.

  19. I also have a huge problem understanding when a French person speaks to me en francais....but at the same time delighted to think that they think I might be able to understand. If you figure out how to get past this problem, PLEASE let me know!

    1. I have the SAME problem - Fr ppl babbling away to me which is a huge compliment but...
      I think Jill's/movie route is the way to go.
      Watch Fr films with the Fr subtitles ON.
      It trains yr ear.
      And listen in on the bus or anywhere.
      BD are excellent for getting Slang expressions.
      Also compression of the language like:
      instead of Je Suis
      Or J'pense etc.

  20. If I'm not mistaken, that first photo is from the movie, Anthony Zimmer; one of my favorites. Thanks for all the links in this post.

    1. Absolutement correct Harriet.
      My fav movie too Anthony Zimmer!

      A hundred times better than THE TOURIST.

  21. Or snag a French husband! Lol. Great for French lessons and free (said the Scot.)
    I used to watch my favourite films in French and with French subtitles. Great way for picking up expressions too.
    I missed seeing your macaron Tshirt this time, Carol!

    1. WOW!
      I just discovered THAT TRICK yesterday Jill while watching TOO BEAUTIFUL FOR ME
      ! ! !
      Great minds...etc

  22. an incredible treasure trove of ideas!! Merci!

  23. What a great post. So many good ideas. I already enjoy watching French films, although I don't get to do it often enough. I never knew about changing the subtitles to French, I will check that out. I'm going to checkout the podcast. And I've bookmarked this post for the two children's book shops. I hope I can check them out next year!

  24. bad mouth10:51 AM

    I do the same thing to learn english :))

    and for BD, youmust write "une Bande dessinée"
    and not "band-dessiner"

    happy french learning

  25. Hi Carol. Thank you for plugging my French Slanguage book. I hope to meet you and yours very soon in NYC. Official launch is May 1st. Mare See Shoe Shoe!! MikEE

  26. My favorite language tapes are the Michel Thomas ones. When I am surprised by someone speaking to me unexpectedly, those are the words that pop out of my mouth the fastest. Thanks for the advice. French Slanguage looks amazing. I was saying some of them out loud and my french husband understood exactly what I was saying. :)

    I ordered it. Set Tune Bunny Day!

  27. Anonymous3:12 PM

    What a delightful post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your tips on speaking French effortlessly. Your personal anecdotes and insights made it engaging and relatable. The emphasis on practicing pronunciation, immersing oneself in French culture, and embracing the language with confidence is spot on. The illustrations throughout the post added a charming touch. Merci beaucoup for sharing these helpful suggestions. They inspire me to continue my French language journey with enthusiasm. Bravo! GT

  28. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Parisbreakfasts is a delightful blog that captures the essence of Parisian life and celebrates the French language. The author's passion for French culture shines through in every post, and their tips for speaking French effortlessly are both practical and inspiring. A charming resource for language enthusiasts and Francophiles alike! TW


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