Do laundry, clean room, make dinner.
Has French practice gotten lost under your pile of everyday to-dos?
Mastering the subjonctif (subjunctive) will certainly feel out of reach if you can barely find enough time in your day to juggle the other responsibilities on your plate.
But fortunately, learning a language doesn’t require a herculean effort.
Instead, you simply need to make time in your day to grow your skill set.
No matter how jam-packed your current schedule might feel, there are plenty of ways you can calmly work in short study sessions over the course of your day. Not only are short sessions more convenient, but research suggests several small lessons are far preferable to one extended study period.
So while developing fluency in French still requires countless hours of in-depth study, you can now use these simple keys to maximize your study time—from the moment you open your eyes until you climb back into bed at night.
Uncover Hidden Time: How to Effortlessly Study French All Day Long
Start Your Day with the News
Learning French through the morning news serves a number of unique purposes. Firstly, it enlarges your cultural knowledge by exposing you to current events taking place in French-speaking countries. Some language learners mistakenly overlook the cultural element of linguistic study, but exploring the cultural differences and eccentricities of native speakers will help you to truly master a foreign language.
Both newscasts and news articles expose you to new vocabulary words, which helps grow your personal vernacular. Why not watch a live newscast to start your day through immersion learning? If you’d prefer to read the latest news, check out Le Monde for a quick overview, or keep things simple and discover news articles geared towards children.
Depending on where you find yourself on the journey to fluency, it may feel difficult to find a newscast or articles that you can understand. If you’re struggling with listening comprehension, try listening to Radio France Internationale’s Le journal en français facile (Newscast in Simple French). Published several times each day, RFI simplifies its standard news bulletins and includes a full script for language learners to follow along. You might also enjoy News in Slow French, which offers a weekly synopsis of recent events and is geared towards beginners.
Spend Your Commute Wisely
Few people cherish long hours spent in the car or waiting for the train. Turn your commute into a veritable study session by equipping yourself with language materials you can enjoy on the go. If you’re fortunate enough to take public transport, bring along a slew of exciting books to enjoy while you’re in transit. If you’re driving to work, you’ll of course need to keep your eyes on the road. In this case, choose an audio option.
I personally enjoy listening to French podcasts to keep my language skills sharp. Radio France offers a tantalizing array of interesting programs you may enjoy, particularly if you’re a fan of public radio programming. There are plenty of niche podcast producers who produce interesting audio content as well, including one of my favorite podcasts, One Thing in a French Day. Developed by a Frenchwoman in the Parisian banlieue (suburbs), this short podcast features a description of the creator’s everyday experiences going about her life in France. Its short duration is perfect for the commuter eager to learn.
Distract Yourself During Your Coffee Break
What could be more French than taking a long pause (break) to enjoy a piping hot espresso. Instead of playing solitaire at your desk or chatting around the water cooler, why not relax and learn simultaneously? Distract yourself from the stress of your office with an enjoyable game or two. Digital Dialects offers a fun assortment of learning games to explore.
You could also have an entertaining review or learning session with FluentU. FluentU transforms real-world videos into personalized language learning lessons. With levels from absolute beginner to native, and video topics spanning arts and entertainment to politics and society, you’re sure to find loads of videos that interest you.
If you’re an advanced learner, consider working on phonetics over your steaming cup of Joe. Understanding the phonetic foundation of the French language is crucial to escaping the confines of a stereotypical anglophone accent. Phonétique provides countless enjoyable games that will put your ear to the test. You may be surprised to discover just how much these simple exercises can help you improve your pronunciation.
Enjoy a Documentary over Lunch
Take advantage of long stretches when you can immerse yourself fully in French, without the distractions of your coworkers getting in the way. Lunch provides an ample window of time to polish your skills.
If you’re sitting in your cubicle or have access to a nearby library, visit television channel TF1’s site, where you can access a plethora of videos to enjoy. Learning French outside of France often proves challenging, as geographic restrictions will prevent your browser from viewing French content on many websites. TF1, one of the largest French television networks, is one of the rare providers to offer access to international visitors for many of its proprietary shows.
Can’t find anything good to enjoy on TF1? Try Netflix! A number of popular French films can be found in the Netflix library, including cult classics like “Amélie.”
Savor Dinner with Friends
What better way to put your a day’s worth of learning into practice than by enjoying dinner with friends. It’s one thing to learn from a book or a television show, but developing conversation skills necessitates speaking with other people.
Don’t have many French friends? It could be time to get involved in your local community. Find an Alliance Française near your home and attend a cultural event. If you live in a smaller city, don’t despair. Many French expats and francophiles unite through services like Meetup. You might also see whether a local university offers a French exchange program that is open to the general public.
End Your Evening with Late Night Television
While your English-speaking friends are laughing with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, why not immerse yourself in the world of French late night television? Much like the late night shows you’ll find on your television, French late night is full of irreverent comedy and general silliness. Many late night hosts also parody personalities involved in current events. Watching a late night show will expose you to a more décontracté (laid back) side of French life.
Le Petit Journal is arguably one of the most popular late night shows enjoyed by the French public. The latest edition is generally uploaded shortly after it airs in France, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to check it out before you head to bed yourself. Fortunately, the show is available to audiences outside of France, unlike many other programs.
Curl Up in Bed with a Good Book
After spending a long day getting immersed in various facets of French culture, end your evening on a high note with a few minutes of reading. Of course, there are no limitations when it comes to finding a great book. Amazon offers a large selection of popular titles you may enjoy, including e-books from a wide number of popular authors. Amazon also has a nice selection of free e-books in the public domain. If you’ve always had an itch to read “Notre Dame de Paris” or Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” in their original forms, now is the time.
Feeling too tired to read? Plug in your earphones and let a French narrator read to you. Audiobooks serve as a powerful learning tool, teaching you new words and pronunciation simultaneously. Even if you can’t quite keep up with the reader, the immersion will no doubt help you further polish your French. If you’re looking for an audiobook to enjoy, Audible offers a nice assortment of titles in French. Your local library might also offer some selections you can enjoy.
Choosing to study French doesn’t mean committing yourself to a superhuman endeavor. Countless fluent French speakers have learned the ins and outs of this beautiful language by simply making a little bit of progress every day. Take the time to plug a few moments of French into your busy schedule, and you too could find yourself speaking like a native in no time.
Adam Zetterlund is a language enthusiast living in New York City. He spent five years honing his foreign language skills in Paris and London, and he currently partners with a number of international clients in a marketing capacity. Learn more by reading his blog.
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