For many students, having a conversation in French can be intimidating. Luckily, tutor Nadia B. is here with tips to help you get started chatting it up with some new French friends…
As you learn French, practicing it through conversation can become a regular part of your life, by following these easy tips. Before you know it, you will be practicing – and speaking – French with fluency!
1. Try a Meetup
The easiest way to practice conversational French is to find a group of French speakers who have the same goal as you: to practice conversation.
You can find groups with this interest through Meetup.com, or also at your local Alliance Française, an organization that aims to promote French culture and language. Most of these groups are free or very inexpensive, and you have the advantage of interacting with a wide variety of French speakers, from native to multilingual speakers, to everything in between!
If you attend the group regularly, you will notice steady progress in your French conversation skills, and you will likely also make long-lasting friendships at the same time.
2. Make a New Friend
Another excellent and simple way to practice French conversation is to find a single conversation partner: either someone who wants to practice French, too, and is at a similar level to you, or someone who is a native French speaker looking to improve his or her English. Either way you will be making gains on your conversational abilities with other equally interested individuals, which is key.
A great way to ensure progress is to create structured, clear guidelines for your meetings; decide in advance how to split the time between each person and each language.
3. Talk to Yourself!
If you’ve tried to find other interested individuals to practice with and haven’t had any luck, you can still “converse”! Using the exercises in your book, you can read aloud the questions or topics for conversation and then “reply.” This is an excellent way to target specific topics, vocabulary or grammar concepts since books address these in short, conversational activities.
If you’re learning French with a tutor, you can record your responses and ask your teacher for feedback.
4. Join a Book Club
If you’ve participated in conversational French language groups and are now looking for more intensive, complex conversation, why not start or join a French book club? The conversations you will engage in will provoke you to use a richer vocabulary, more complex structures to express your opinions and reference events, characters and themes in the book. This is a wonderful way to elevate your French language abilities to a more advanced, literary level.
5. Eat Up
Lastly, if you’re looking for a more casual, social way to practice your conversational skills in French, head to a French, Belgian or West African restaurant (or patisserie), and strike up a conversation with some of the French speakers there. You can discuss their culinary specialties, life in their native country, or the news of the day, either in the Francophone world or in your local area.
Going to chat with native speakers is a great test and exercise – can you understand them, with unique accents and slang at play? Can you communicate effectively and appropriately? Treat it as a game that leads to friendship and improved French conversational skills!
Finding your way around French will become easier and easier as you use these strategies for practice. Before you know it, your free hours will be filled with discussions of books and meetings over coffee with your friends, who also happen to be French speakers!