How to Learn French…When You Already Speak It (Part 2)

Oui_je_parle_francaisA follow up to my previous post ‘How to Learn French…When You Already Speak It’ and the problem advanced French students have with progressing in French. My last post focused more on free resources and now I’m going to list a few that you may need to pay for (but personally I think they’re worth the money)

Read (and listen to) Audio Language Magazine 

When I started to feel I was an ‘advanced’ French learner, I started to think I could casually read French magazines, newspapers and watch French movies designed for native speakers. While this isn’t necessarily detrimental, it’s not necessarily the best way to improve. I started reading about ‘audio language magazines’, essentially they’re magazines that are written entirely in a foreign language, but usually come with either a bi-lingual glossary or a transcript. But their most important feature is that they come with native-speaker audio.

After a bit of umming and ahhing, I bought a year’s subscription to ‘Think French’ magazine when it was on sale for $79 for the year. This subscription gave me access to all of their back issues and a new issue come out every month.

What I noticed when I first started listening was that it was hard for me. I could definitely understand the gist or about 3/4 of the article when it was read outloud (and without the text in front of me) but there was so much new vocabulary, I found I needed to go back and repeat the audio, then look at the text and note the new words sometimes.

Plus there is so much content it’s difficult to get through it all, so I feel I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!

There are a few brands on the market, but I’ve been quite happy with ‘Think French.’ Although they tend to go on sale at least twice a year, so I’d hold out until it was 50% again to buy your first subscription.

Dictation…. with French Movies

If you’re still struggling to understand a French movie, then you’re most likely an advanced student but not a fluent one. When I suggest watching French movies, I don’t lazily watch a French film with the sub-titles on.

If you really want to improve with movies, you need to do dictation with films (time consuming as it is) or have French subtitles on and write new words or translate sentences you don’t understand. Maybe start with a chapter of a French film with no subtitles, pause after every sentence the actor/s speak and write it down. Once you’ve finished go back and see if you were right (either with French subtitles or the English ones), I really think this is the only way to ‘study’ and ‘progress’ in French by using French movies.

Prepositions… Learn them!

Ah prepositions, every language has them but maybe French is one of the few where there is simply no rule to help you learn them, you just have to memorise them!

Certain verbs in French are followed by either ‘à’ or ‘de’ or no preposition at all. Just like in English you can’t say ‘I listen music’ because we say ‘to listen TO something’ even though you would have already conjugated the verb and put the noun in the right spot, it still needs a preposition to make a perfect sentence.

This is something that most advanced French students can study, because there’s a good chance you don’t know them all. For example you must use à when using the verb penser if it is followed by a noun.

So ‘je pense à lui’ (I’m thinking of him) not just ‘je pense lui’. However you do not use à when penser is followed by a verb, so ‘je pense faire quelque-chose’ not ‘je pense à faire quelquechose’.

Use these lists of common verbs that use prepositions to help you:

French verbs followed by no preposition + verb infinitive 

French verbs followed by the preposition de + verb infinitive 

French verbs followed by a + verb infinitive 


Practice Speaking Your French

Even though you may have lived in Paris for two years, if you’ve been spending the last five in New York there’s no doubt you will become rusty in French. Even though you may feel you still understand everything as well as you did while in France, you may feel like you’re suddenly trying to drive a manual car again after having driven an automatic for the last ten years – you’re going to get rusty, so use it or lose it!

Hope these tips help all of the advanced French learners out there, if you have any more ideas for advanced French learners then please let me know in the comments!

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One thought on “How to Learn French…When You Already Speak It (Part 2)

  1. I’ll definitely have to go the movies and magazine route, sounds ideal. I’m re-learning French right now, it’s going well. I went the program route with Rocket Languages. So far, it has what I need in learning a language, MP3 accessibility which I take advantage of on the way to work, which makes my world a bit more French… Favorite part is they record your voice to compare it to how a native would sound, very helpful. If you want to learn French naturally like I am, go to http://www.FrenchConversations.net. A lot of good info, and awesome teachers.

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