How To Speak French Like a Native
By Léa Montminy-Bergeron
French Immersion programs are great, and I admire everyone who chooses this option as I know it’s not easy to learn about difficult topics in another language than your mother tongue. As someone who was raised in a French-speaking family, here are some of my tips on how to fully immerse yourself into French culture, in order to gain knowledge on the nuances of the language, the expressions, and even the jokes (good or bad)!
1. Join French-speaking clubs or study groups
This is a great way to make friends who most likely speak French as a first language! With clubs, you will be able to talk about things that interest you and do a bit of work in the language you’re trying to practice! Study groups can be helpful since you will be able to go over the material from a specific course and really test out your understanding. If there were some sections you weren’t quite sure about, or if you didn’t quite comprehend a paragraph, this is the perfect occasion to ask questions without judgement. By doing these two things, joining clubs and study groups, you are perfecting your ability to speak both casual French, but also “academic” French.
2. Watch TV shows or movies in French or with French subtitles
Found a TV show that you became borderline obsessed with to the point of watching it entirely three times already? Fantastic. Let’s watch it for the fourth time in French, or with French subtitles. Since you will already be familiar with the contents and dialogue, you will be able to recognize certain French expressions and associate new phrases with the English alternative. As a kid, I think that this has helped me most of all, watching TV in English, since I was able to learn new vocabulary and sometimes jokes! While translated versions of movies and shows are amazing, there are also a great variety of really interesting French movies or shows that exist. I would also like to recommend those, as they can be more of a challenge while also being very well-made.
3. Listen to French or Francophone music
The title for this section is pretty self-explanatory! Almost every genre of music also exists in French, whether you’re a fan of Pop music, Rap, Country, etc. There are also French radio stations available if you’re unsure about where to start! We talked about movies and TV shows for section number two - If you liked the soundtrack, give it a listen! Check out some other songs by the same artists! There are also some festivals you can attend, such as Le Festival franco-Ontarien, which takes place in Ottawa every normal summer.
4. If you can, try to visit places where French is the main language
I myself am from Ottawa, which borders Québec, a French-speaking province of Canada. If you’re in the area, make sure to take a trip across the border every now and then! Grab some food, go to the movies, talk to people. The goal is to speak French to native speakers in order to practice! Another good way to do this would be to take a semester abroad, preferably in a French-speaking country. If travelling is something you’re passionate about, you will love learning the language of love in a beautiful place.
Like I had mentioned before, all of these tips are meant to help to immerse yourself in French culture. Hopefully, by following my advice, you will be able to learn a bit more about what being a francophone in Canada is all about! And remember, practice makes perfect! People will not judge you for making mistakes and will definitely be appreciative of the efforts they know you are making.