Do you believe that you can begin speaking French and having conversation even as a beginner?
It’s funny though, because so many people have this dream in their head of becoming bilingual and start out their lessons by reading French.
Um . . . yeah. That may be great for your reading comprehension, but as soon as someone starts talking to you and you have to respond back, you won’t be able to.
Reading a language cannot make you conversational. Especially not in French.
In fact, I highly recommend not even attempting to read until you have at least progressed through the A1 level material.
Why? Because speech is a muscle memory thing. You have to hear it, imitate it, and perfect it. If you read first, your mind will automatically attempt to use the language you do know to read the text. So yes, you will be able to comprehend much of what you read because the words look similar to English words. However, they are pronounced very very differently.
So, how can you get speaking more frequently? Here are 5 simple tips to teach your mouth how to say French sounds and words.
1. Find a supportive tutor
The very first thing you want to do if find a supportive and encouraging tutor. This can actually be very challenging. So many tutors like to talk AT you, not with you.
If you really want a native tutor, I recommend the community tutors with iTalki. They aren’t instructors, so you will need to have your own language learning plan, However, they are there simply to have a conversation, so you usually speak about 50% of the time.
However, if you are brand-new to language learning, you really need someone who’s method is ideal for beginning learners and can get you understanding and speaking more than you thought you could.
My method is ideal for conversation for beginners. You’ll be speaking and understanding more French in 3 weeks than you thought possible.
I believe in you, and I know you can do it.
2. Prepare to talk about specific topics
Once you have found a tutor, you need to make sure that you are preparing for class ahead of time. You will feel much more confident to speak if you aren’t learning the material for the first time with your tutor.
Of course you can expect to learn new things, but prepare as best as you can.
Have a plan for what to talk about and prepare for it. Sure, you’ll encounter new things, you may even end up having an entirely different conversation than you expected, but if you are prepared you won’t be as scared.
3. Practice speaking
One great thing you can do is practice speaking before you end up talking to natives. Talking to yourself is definitely not a bad thing when you are learning a second language.
Practice listening to a conversation about the subject you wish to discuss. Instead of just listening, repeat what you hear. This gives your muscles the opportunity to practice imitating and repeating the sounds before you are under pressure.
Try to imitate the accent, try to imitate the sounds. Listen more slowly if you can.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
In fact, if you memorize the entire conversation you’ll be even more prepared to have the conversation yourself.
4. Make it Relevant
Make sure your French conversations are relevant to you. There’s nothing worse than attempting to have a conversation about glass-blowing when you could care less about the subject.
You really should be speaking 50% as a beginner (more the higher your level). You should also be using vocabulary that is interesting to you. When you talk about family, you want to be talking about your family.
When you talk about food, you want to be discussing food that you actually eat and cook with.
Now you don’t necessarily need to know all the vocabulary before you begin a conversation, but it does need to be relevant to you now, and not sometime in the vague future.
5. Evaluate Your Expectations
If you honestly expect yourself to speak perfectly before you’ll ever talk to people in French, you will never get there.
Make your expectations more realistic.
Yes, you will make mistakes and you will make many of them. You are going to have to get over the idea of being “perfect”.
If you are a brand-new learner and are very afraid of what Native speakers will think of your “accent”; please schedule a consultation with me here. I want to help you through that fear so you can speak confidently even when you don’t know what to say.
Expect yourself to make mistakes, know that it will happen, and enjoy the journey anyway!
Take courage, mes amis, learning a language won’t be without moments of discomfort as you grow and progress. You are definitely out of your comfort zone here. But that is exactly where you want to be.
You can do this!
**DISCLAIMERS: This post may contain links to affiliate content. Please note that I always recommend products that are in your best interest and not mine. Please also know that I am not a native French speaker and my pronunciation is not perfect, however, I can definitely help you improve your pronunciation and get to a point where you can converse with native speakers and they can fine-tune your pronunciation.