What can I do to master my French listening?
The French language is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spoken in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other languages d’oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France’s past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
If you think that you will have to travel all the way to France to learn French then you are wrong. You can learn it in India as well, without travelling to any other country or even city. All you need is good listening skills that suit your purpose of learning French.
In this blog, we will discuss mastering French listening skills.
Listening Skills may be more important than you think!
Learning how words sound and practising how to use them are both invaluable skills to develop, but people often forget that in addition to speaking, writing and reading we have to develop our listening skills in a foreign language as well. This is a common issue that all language learners face at some point or another.
The truth is, it’s actually a good problem to have because only students with a higher level of scale will experience it. When you know a lot of the language, but face trouble understanding native speakers, the problem is always with your listening skills. Mastering a language is a slow and gradual process. You have to be able to read, write, listen and speak in the language to become fluent at it.
3 Practical Ways to Improve Your French Listening Skills
1)Practice active French Listening
One of the best ways to practice listening to French is to well….listen to French (shocking right?). But this doesn’t mean putting on some French music and listening to it in the background as you bake baguettes or sip wine. You need to practice active listening.
Get your hands on a recording of spoken French. You can use a movie, news broadcast, or podcast. You can even try subscribing to a French Youtube channel Listen to a segment of the audio and do your best to write down what you hear. After a couple of tries at this go back and double-check what you wrote against the script of what was actually said. If you’re streaming a movie on Netflix or Youtube you can double-check yourself by turning on the French subtitles. Just be aware that sometimes Youtube has auto-generated subtitles which aren’t always correct.
2) Practice pronunciation
Any problems you have pronouncing French words correctly will be reflected back in your listening skills. It’s hard for your brain to decipher and remember a sound (be it a letter or a word), that you don’t know how to make yourself. A good French accent will give you the ability to hear and pick out the otherwise unnatural (to a native English speaker) French sounds.
To develop your accent, focus on any sounds or letters that feel difficult or unnatural for you. In the French alphabet there are a total of 26 letters. Of those 26 there are 3 consonant sounds and 6 vowel sounds that each could pose difficulties for native English speakers. Once you get more comfortable with the basic sounds, start to combine them using words and whole sentences.
Listen to native French speakers as much as possible, and take note of how words and sounds can blend, morph, or get dropped in rapid speech. Do your best to listen to this phenomenon and imitate what you hear. Focus more on how the syllables are said together rather than simply saying the words “next to each other”. There is often a significant difference between how words are said individually and how they are said when spoken together in a rapid fire sentence. This is a big part of the reason French learners can know a lot of French but still not understand native speakers.
3)Make French listening part of your routine
Now that you’ve started practising active listening and pronunciation, make it a part of your regular French learning! I recommend that you allow a specific amount of time for each of your listening activities. For example, you might practice 10 minutes of active listening, followed by 10 minutes of practising French vowels, and then 10 minutes of imitation practice with a French podcast.
Now, you don’t have to use this schedule exactly. Tailor it to your own needs and availability. The point is that you should make a conscious and decisive effort to practice your French listening skills on a regular basis. It could be 30 minutes a day or it might be 10. What matters most is that you practice consistently.
These 3 tips will help you close any gap that might exist between your knowledge of the French language and your speaking abilities. Understanding native speakers may seem daunting at first, but with a little time and perseverance you will see your abilities improve