If you are like me who have embraced learning the French language in hopes to open up more possibilities in your current or future personal and professional life in France (or another Francophone country), you may possibly find a learning tactic helpful in this post, which I have personally tried and tested, that may let you pick up French faster (or any desired new language).

Just a bit of context here: I currently speak 5 languages.

My mother tongue is Cebuano, one of the hundreds of languages in the Philippines, and I equally learned English and Filipino/Tagalog languages in school. That makes me trilingual even before I left my country of origin.

When I lived in Singapore for 10 years, I self-studied the German language for at least 5 years and got my German language skill certified up to B1 level at Goethe Institute.

Alliance Française de Singapour

After that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, my life made a turn when I suddenly had the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in France.

So, I signed up to learn basic French for 3 months at Alliance Francaise in Singapore.

One of my early French language homeworks at Alliance Française de Singapour with corrections from my French teacher.
My French teachers and classmates at Alliance Française de Singapour

When I eventually moved to Lille in Northern France, I was so shocked to know that my 3-month formal French education was nowhere near to being able to speak to people on the street, in cafes, in restaurants, or in grocery stores.

Knowing this, I decided to continue to formally learn French in another Alliance Francaise in Lille. I completed a 3-month French course with B1- and B2-level materials.

My French teacher and classmates at Alliance Française de Lille.

Although it was helpful in advancing my French grammar and my French writing became a bit more sophisticated, I felt disappointed as all that time spent in learning still did not give me the ability to start or to hold simple conversations in French with people on the street, except for basic greetings.

One of the advanced French grammar topics I’ve learned in Alliance Française de Lille

When my master’s degree program started, my school also offered a French language course that I signed up for. However, it was worse than Alliance Francaise because the classes only occurred once a week. It was very easy to forget the new grammar lessons or new vocabulary.

Find a French speaking-only partner

Then I met a French-only speaking boyfriend in Lille and this changed everything.

He became the best French language teacher to me, even though he never intended to teach me his own language.

At the start of our mutual relationship, the way we mostly communicated was through body language, plus many moments of Google Translate app. That may sound funny, but somehow it worked in advancing our relationship.

Then we started living together in a common household and slowly we talked in French. On many occasions, I had arguments with him where I only knew how to speak half of an emotionally-charged French sentence and I had to pull my phone and bring up Google Translate so I could complete the rest and fully express myself while we are in the middle of a heated discussion.

It was often awkward and sometimes hilarious, but past this, it allowed me to remember many new French words and common “dailyspeak” phrases in a very short amount of time as they became attached to specific moments, emotions, and other life contexts. These phrases were also very different from the formal French I’ve learned from language institutes.

A few months since we started living together, as I slowly advanced my skill in spoken French, my boyfriend started to feel increasingly more frustrated because of the moments where I could only understand half of what he said which forced me to ask him to repeat multiple times. I can totally understand how frustrating that must have been for him.

I welcomed every chance that he had sharply criticized me and he said I could not speak French properly, even when it hurts, as that only encouraged me to learn and improve some more.

Today, we are now partners after we entered a French civil union (PACS) and still living in the same household for almost two years. He’s still my best French teacher and I kept on asking him to correct my French whenever I say a sentence wrongly or if something that I said doesn’t sound right.

In fact these days, I could already spar with him in French whenever we have intense arguments. I am able to defend my ideas.

While I still can’t understand everything, I could say that I now know enough street French to orally express my emotions, ideas, and opinions to any French-speaking person.

I could also better understand now the shows I see on French TV, especially when I watch the popular evening news programs in France such as the Le 20H and BFM.

I am pleasantly surprised to realize how fast I’ve learned the language through this method.

I now look forward to signing up for an official French language test for me to determine where I am on my proficiency and to officially certify it. Certifying my skills in French language can have benefits on job search and on matters related to French resident permits.

Practically, having advanced my skills in conversational French language made living in France much more enjoyable as I am now able to hold conversations and connect with many French people.

I am no longer intimidated with the language.

If you are currently learning French, while I would still recommend you to attend a formal French language course to increase your exposure to the language, I think you will learn French much faster if you can find a French-only speaking partner through your pursuit of a romantic relationship, friendship, or anything else.

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