Tips for Improving Your French: Five easy ways without picking up a text book!

Dual Language LabelLearning French in school is not always easy, and just like with any language, if it’s not practised, you can easily forget what you’ve learned. Although you might not have much time in the day, or the week, to sit down and open up your French course book to review previous lessons, there are other small ways to practise that require little effort, but could make a huge impact on your learning. Here are five tips for catching up with, keeping up with, and perfecting your French skills:

Re-watch all your favourite films- in French.If you become tired of watching films you’ve already seen, why not look into watching French films?

  • Try re-watching your favourite films in French. Most DVDs have the option of switching the language to French, or at least having French subtitles. There are many options to try: you can watch it in French with English subtitles, or if you know the film well, watch it in French with French subtitles- or even in French without subtitles if you think you will be able to understand it. Watching a film dubbed in French will improve your French listening skills, and reading the subtitles simultaneously will improve your understanding of how words are pronounced.

Read the translations of labels. They’re all around you! 

  • Read the French version of recipes on the back of cereal boxes while you eat breakfast- or the ingredients on your yogurt container, or the instructions that come with your new iPod. Check your understanding by reading the English afterwards. You’ll be accumulating new vocabulary on a daily basis without even noticing it!

Try to speak with a friend only in French for one day a week…

  •  ..or even one hour a day- every lunch time, for example. You might stumble, you might have to act words out, but you’ll learn to dig into the part of your brain that holds your vocabulary base from all those years of French class in order to communicate.  You’ll also learn new words from the person you’re practising with. Even if his or her level of spoken French is lower than yours, there will most likely be some words that you don’t know, or you may even learn a different, easier way of saying something.

Change your Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ Email default language to French. 

  • Why not even change your phone and computer settings? It might be a little confusing at first, but you’ll be surprised by how much you already know because you know the location of an icon or the shape of a feature. The more you read the French words, the more used to them you’ll become, and without even being aware of it, you will know that “Imprimer” is “Print”, “Mot de passe oublié?” is “Forgot your password?”; this will translate to recognizing words like “oublier” (“to forget”) in new contexts.

Talk to your teacher!

  • Last, but not least, your French teacher is a wonderful resource for any books, films, blogs, radio programs, musical artists, and games in French that you might be interested in. Just ask! Not only that, but he or she will most likely have an idea of what aspect of French you could improve on most (listening/ speaking/reading/ writing), and will be able to suggest materials that can help you work on that specific skill.

Don’t these study ideas (watching movies, using social media, and chatting with friends) seem like a reasonably fun way to improve a skill? What are you waiting for- start learning!

For more information on improving your French at home or through one-to-one lessons, please contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space at 416.925.1225 or visit


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