Find immediate opportunities to use French
When you start learning French, no matter what your goal is, it’s essential that you find opportunities to use the language straight away. Indeed, among the flow of words and structures you’ll be exposed to, the ones that will stay in your memory for the long-run are those you’ll be using in real life.
If you’re learning French for pleasure, try to get in touch with a community of native speakers: a cultural association, a polyglot café… You could also consider language exchange. There are so many social networks for this purpose.
If you can’t find any suitable option, a private tutor, face-to-face or online, is also a great option. In this case, in addition to the possibility of using the language, you’ll also benefit from their language expertise. Indeed, it’s not always easy for native speakers to explain how their language works. Having a pro to help you out may save you a lot of time.
Another major advantage of immediate practice is to make French tangible. When we study in textbooks and classrooms for a long time, we’re like sprinters getting ready for Olympics that never come: we have to make it happen one day or another. Otherwise, we’re studying in vain.
Whatever you decide, always get ready for language practice. If you join a conversation without preparation or without a precise goal, the conversation may quickly take you to unlimited levels of complexity or aspects of the language you don’t yet master. Instead of giving you an opportunity to practice, the conversation could turn into a note-taking session. In the end, you’ll have to deal with way too many new words and most of them wouldn’t be relevant at this stage.
To make the most of your practice session, be conscious of your limits and feel free to regularly take the lead on the conversation to come back to a level that’s neither too easy nor too hard.
<h2>Don’t be afraid to make mistakes</h2>
If you’re thinking of practicing French in real-life, the question of making mistakes will soon pop up in your mind. What’s your relationship with mistakes? Are you paralysed at the idea of uttering any grammar mistake or on the other hand, ready to rush into a new adventure no matter what?
If you’re a shy person and losing face because you’ve misused a word is your worst nightmare, relax! You HAVE TO MAKE MISTAKES. By making recurrent mistakes, you elaborate long-term memorisation strategies. Making mistakes makes you consider a particular aspect of a language with a fresh eye and remember it in a clearer way. Making mistakes equals learning.
Another way to look at it is to consider things the other way around. You may have, among some of your friends or relatives, foreigners who speak your language. Do you understand them when they speak? Most certainly. Do they make mistakes ? Of course they do, tons of them. Now, when they make mistakes, do you make fun of them or on the other hand respect them and encourage the effort? Like a vast majority of people, you probably adopt the second position.
No one will ever judge you, as a foreigner, for making mistakes. Most probably, people won’t even say anything while others may even offer to help you get better if you agree to.
Of course, what’s at stake by making mistakes highly depends on the context you’ll be using the language in. If you’re learning French for everyday life, getting masculine and feminine mixed up won’t make a difference. As a legal expert, things will be a little trickier, but there again, you can count on the help of native colleagues or professional proofreaders.
What about you ? What strategy have you found to use the language you’re learning straight away? Feel free to share your comments.