Insights

5 Tips To Become More Conversational in French

Sun, 20 Jun 2021

Languages are windows to different cultures, allowing us to connect with other people from around the world. Language learning helps improve people’s thinking skills and memory abilities. Bilingual students concentrate better, ignoring distractions more effectively than those who only speak one language. But learning a new language extends past just having a simple conversation or having access to different words, concepts, and metaphors.


Why should you learn a new language?  


Obviously to be able to communicate with the people who speak it. This includes both the people you meet when traveling as well as people in your community. Your trip to another country will be greatly enhanced in both ease of communication and friendliness if you speak the language.


And when you know another language, you can enjoy literature, movies, and music in that language. It is a well-known fact that a translation can not be a perfect replica of the original, because the best way to understand what the author meant is to read what the author wrote.


Speaking more than one language is also a skill which will increase your marketability. It can be one of your strengths! Employers tend to prefer candidates who speak one or more foreign languages.


And last but not least, learning another language can help you understand your own. Many languages have contributed to the development of other languages, so learning new languages will teach you where words or even grammatical structure are from.


Why Learn French?


French is spoken as a native language in more than two dozen countries on five continents. If you search on google, depending on your sources, French is either the 11th or 13th most common native language in the world, with 72 to 79 million native speakers and another 190 million secondary speakers. French is the second most commonly taught second language in the world (after English), making it a real possibility that speaking French will come handy practically anywhere you travel.


French is also an official working language in dozens of international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee, and International Red Cross. French is the lingua franca of culture including art, cuisine, dance, and fashion. France has won more Nobel Prizes for literature than any other country in the world and is one of the top producers of international films.


Not to mention French is the second most frequently used language on the internet!


Tips to Become More Conversational in French


Now, whether you’re traveling to France, going on a date with a French, or just want to learn French, you should know these 5 tips below to make conversations become easier for you.


1.     How you say “you” matters


In English, no matter whom we’re talking to, we just say “you”. Well, French is a little more complicated. Formality, hierarchy, and authority matter in a conversation. To show your respect, refer to another person using vous (formal you). But if you’re just chatting with your friends or a young person, you can say tu (informal you).


For example, you’d tell your teacher, “Vous portez une belle chemise aujourd’hui.” (You’re wearing a nice shirt today). But you’d tell your younger sister “Tu portes une belle chemise aujourd’hui.”


2.     Everyone says hello and goodbye


When you approach someone or even enter a small shop, you’re expected to say hello right off the bat. “Bonjour” is the word most used to greet someone in France. When you walk into a store during the day, you say “Bonjour”. When you pass someone in the street or a neighbour during the day, you say “Bonjour”.


It’s also important to say goodbye when you leave the conversation or exit a small store. To say goodbye, you can use “Au revoir”, “Salut”, or “A bientôt”.


3.     People downplay compliments


Imagine a French lady approaches you and says “Vos cheveux sont très beaux!” (Your hair’s so beautiful!). And then you respond “Merci!” (Thank you!). Simple enough right? Oh, not so fast! In France thanking someone after they pay you a compliment is viewed as extremely haughty. It’s as though as you’re saying. “Thank you, I know! Aren’t I gorgeous? I’m amazing!”


Instead, try something along the lines of “Non, pas du tout! Vous êtes trop gentille.” (“No, not at all! You’re too kind.”) This shows modesty and humility, which the French respect.


4.     Just show that you’re trying


If you can’t memorize every single aspect of French culture, don’t stress out! Yes, the French are known for being an uptight breed. But they’re also more apt to go easy on you if they know you’re trying your hardest. So, don’t worry!


5.     Ask Native Speakers to Correct You


If you’re having a hard time finding the right word or how to pronounce it then don’t be afraid to ask them to teach or correct you. It is one of the best ways to learn the language, ask the natives!


Now with these tips and a little information about French language in your head, you’re ready to meet a French person and try to practice what you have been learning. Who knows? Your knowledge of French language may even lead to new friends or new opportunities!


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