You’ve just spent a semester, year, or summer abroad. It went well, you spoke French all day, every day. And now, you’re back home. How do you keep up your French? The AUCP has a few tips on keeping up your French level once back in the States!
1. Watch French films, subtitled in French The French love their cinéma, and French films are well known for their quality. But, while you can easily get the gist of a French film, its sometimes hard to get the details when characters speak too quickly. The solution is NOT English subtitles. Oh no, you’re an AUCP student! You’re too good for that! Since reading comprehension is often higher than oral comprehension, the solution is French subtitles. French subtitles make it so that, instead of simply hearing an incomprehensible blend of syllables, you can read and this differentiate between each and every word. It’s a lifesaver for understanding pronunciation and liasons as well. Practice makes perfect.
2. Keep up with French cultural events in your city There is an extensive Francophone and Francophile community, all over the world. Take advantage of it! Notably, the Alliance Française is an organization that has the goal of spreading knowledge of the French language and culture worldwide. They host cultural events, offer wine tastings and cinema evenings, and often propose language exchanges as well. They are a fantastic resource that can allow you to maintain a connection with France, even when you’re back home. You can also sign up for the French Culture Newsletter. Run by the French Embassy in the USA, they keep tabs on cultural events in many of the major cities.
3. Don’t forget the grammar Everyone learns differently, but once you’ve left France, it’s hard to remember grammar. Oftentimes, in upper-level French classes, the focus is more on content than on grammar. But, it’s still really important! Some people may find it more useful to sign up for a refresher course at a local community college or French association. Others can get by simply by re-reading their textbooks and school notes. The AUCP recommends signing up for a newsletter that delivers French language tips directly to your email inbox. We really like the About.com French page, which has numerous resources from « How to Write a French Resumé » to a break down of faux amis to « How to Really Use the Subjonctif ». It’s very complete, and extremely useful!
4. Keep up with French News All major newspapers have websites and many of them are available for free online. Since you’ve already surely heard about many of the international news stories in your first language, you’ll already have a general idea of what the news is discussing. And, you can get cultural insight from national and local stories. French news often offers a unique cultural view of international events, and opinion pieces are goldmines for idioms and French jokes. Le Monde for international news from France, La Provence for a news source more focused on Provence, and even Les Inrocks for some off- the-wall music and culture. If you’re not disciplined enough to integrate those news sources into your morning routine, follow them on Facebook or Twitter so that the top stories come to you.
5. Stay in Touch! Whether it be with your French language partner, host family or with us here at the AUCP, keep in touch! At the AUCP, you were given the opportunity to become part of a family and a friend group. We have a plethora of technology at our feet today, and between Skype, email, Facebook and Twitter, keeping in touch is a cinch. Write and speak in French with your French contacts as much as possible: ask how they’re doing, talk about your daily life, ask for help with French homework or offer to help with their English. Again, practice makes perfect.