Read to Write, Listen to Speak

Read to Write, Listen to Speak

Skill order for better learning

Keywords < language skills – reading – writing – speaking – listening >

Learn French – Skill order for better learning

Learning a language can be seen as a challenge from the outside. Have you ever asked yourself: Why are there so many words? What about this grammatical rule? Do I have to learn this tense? The answer is simple: it depends on your goal.

When you decide to learn a language, you generally have a goal in mind. Your why if you may. So how do you determine your why? Simple, ask yourself why am I learning this language? How much time do I have? And what is the ultimate result I am looking for at this end of this time period? Is it purely a grammatical test or is “une production orale/écrite”

If you have a grammar test to enter a certain course, then you can focus on your grammatical skills. The way to do this is a clear schedule of the grammar lessons you may encounter in the test and as many practice exercises you can find: these can be online, from a language learning book, ask a native friend or better yet, get yourself a teacher to help you out. 

Your language goals need to be reasonable to your time frame.

Now remember that these goals need to be realistic! While high expectations can be a good fuel for your motivation, you need to keep it grounded which means your language goals need to be reasonable to your time frame. You cannot just say “I want to be a native in French in a week”! Remember that EVEN native speakers have been studying that language since the first day of school and they STILL are. Language learning is a work in progress. You always learn, you continue to grow, to improve and enlarge your knowledge skills, be it in vocabulary, culture or other domains. 

So what’s the main rule? How do I approach my language goals? 

Answer: Step by step. To make it easier, there is a rule of thumb in terms of the language skills you want to work on and that is: If you want to improve your writing, read more and if your focus is speaking then listen more. You have “une production écrite” coming soon? Read everything and anything that comes in your way. Choosing topics similar to your theme is preferable and beneficial as you will learn more vocabulary. You also get to familiarize yourself with the structure of the writing, the spelling of the words and much more etc.

French listening – Setting Calm app in French. calm.com
French listening – Setting Calm app in French. calm.com

“I have to speak!” then listen in the language you’re learning. TV, radio, music, conversations etc. You name it and it’s there. It’s 2020 which means that technology has left us no room for excuses. My favorite trick is listen to the radio in the language you want to improve for 20 minutes first thing in the morning. Be creative, you can choose the channel, the country, the accent but keep the time and your routine. Having the language on the background as you wake up, brush your teeth, make your coffee and dress up HELPS A LOT!

Typical French Food

Typical French Food 

Keywords: French food – French cuisine – French culture

It is no secret that French gastronomy is one of the finest and most appetizing in the world. A freshly baked croissant for breakfast, a homemade traditional dish for lunch, red wine and local cheese for the evening. It is definitely NOT a secret that French gastronomy is magical and dreamy. And you know what? This type of food is always a good idea. You would not want to miss an apéro (short for apéritif, appetizer). Not only will you drink fine wine and eat savoury cheese; but, you will also experience a sense of sociability, conversation, and relaxation. You will even get a taste of some parts of French culture. 

Did you know that French cuisine was inscribed in UNESCO’s cultural heritage in 2010? If you are a foodie and are interested in knowing more, let us take you on a tasty journey and help you discover 5 of the French traditional dishes you might want to try. 

  1. Boeuf Bourguignon 
Learn French – Boeuf Bourguignon 

Also known as beef Burgundy, le boeuf bourguignon is a beef stew braised in red wine, often red Burgundy (obviously!), and beef stock. Its main ingredients are boeuf (beef), lardons (bacon strips), oignons (onions), légumes (vegetables), beurre (butter), and un bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs usually tied together with a string and mainly used to prepare stews, soup, stock and many other dishes). 

  1. Escargots de Bourgogne
Learn French – Escargots de Bourgogne

In the same region of Burgundy, we find the iconic dish of escargots de bourgogne. Cooked in court bouillon (a stock made from wine and vegetables), the snail is then presented in its shell, which is filled with a mixture of butter, parsley (persil), and finely chopped garlic (ail) and placed in the oven. It is often accompanied with bread. 

  1. La ratatouille
Learn French – La ratatouille

As you can see in the picture above, la ratatouille is a dish consisting of vegetables cooked all together, which makes it very colorful and appetizing. Some of the vegetables that we can find in this dish are: oignons (onions), tomates (tomatoes), poivrons (peppers), aubergines (eggplants), and courgettes (zucchini). If this does not make you crave the dish already, do not hesitate to go check the French animated movie “Ratatouille.” It shows the French cuisine, the love of Paris, and of course, la ratatouille. Enjoy! 

  1. La tarte tatin 
Learn French – La tarte tatin

Tatin has actually become an adjective used to describe food that is caramelized and baked in the manner of an upside down cake. In other words, la tarte tatin is an upside-down apple (pomme)/pear (poire) tart as shown in the picture. 

  1. Les éclaires 
Learn French – Les éclaires 

As the tradition goes, we saved the best for last. We present to you les éclaires. They are long, thin individual cakes of choux pastry filled with cream and topped with chocolate/café/vanilla icing. Yum! 

To App or not to App

How to know if and when learning Apps are for you

<keywords: Language Learning App – technology and language – mobile applications>

With the rise of technology, mobile Apps became a game changer in the language learning industry. Type, install and sign in: now you’re a step closer to fluency. But at which point in your learning journey will you need the App? And is it really a one size fits all? 

Well … the answer is yes and no.

A lot of language learners, enthused by the process choose language learning Apps to get their linguistic progress a nudge towards proficiency. The truth is, learning a language is not a magic trick, snap your fingers and you’re fluent. It is a process, it takes time and effort. It takes curiosity and exploration. It is a whole new world, LITERALLY!

Language Learning App – Rootalky

But where do language Apps fit in this world?

First and foremost, language learning Apps are excellent tools to practice your pronunciation. They give you a few voices that will say the word or sentence exactly like a native speaker would. You have ample time to listen to these voices and repeat as many times as you need to perfect it. Some learning Apps even help you select from a variety of accents to speak the language from your country of choice.

Another important element of your learning kit that language Apps can provide is vocabulary. It helps you build, develop and expand your vocabulary. You think learning common words is thrilling? Try new words, very exciting! It will make you feel like you own it, AND YOU DO! Because now, you know fancy words that describe day to day items. Finally, exercise. I know that nobody liked homework when they were at school, but if you want to ace that language test, remember the lyrics to your favorite song or even order that cup of coffee in one go, you need to repeat everything and anything and that’s what language Apps provide you with. While the progress might seem slow sometimes, you get to cement those words into your brain forever! Most language Apps have a way of profusely asking you about the same words: if you are a beginner, take that opportunity and click one more time for a chance to never forget that word. 

Will the language App fulfill all my language needs? 

This is where it gets tricky. It will depend on those needs. But the rule of thumb is, never limit yourself to one tool of language learning. There is much more out there for your, whatever your linguistic needs are: Speak to natives, watch TV, listen to music and read books … Language learning will never be a straight route with a clear finish line, it is exploratory and diverse. It is a journey not a destination.

Best Places to visit in France

Best Places to visit in France

Keyphrase: places to visit in France

France is… Wonderful? Fun? Interesting? Breathtaking? Unique? Yes! You guessed it right. France is all of these and more. It has always been one of the most attractive destinations all over the world. With its beautiful scenery, rich culture, history, art, and exquisite food, France attracts around 90 million tourists each year. So, if you are planning to visit France anytime soon or simply want to learn more about this beautiful country, you are in the right place. 

Here are 6 of the best places to visit in France: 

  1. Paris: (Obviously!)
French course online

Also known as the city of love and lights, Paris might be the first city that comes to mind when we think about travelling to France. No wonder. The Eiffel Tower, the night life, the lights, the cute little cafés besides La Seine, the different Museums offering multiple exhibitions. Who would not want to see that? Besides, it is a great opportunity to practice your French language skills and have various conversations in French on all kinds of topics.

 

  1. Colmar in the Alsace region 
French course Colmar in the Alsace region 

Did you know that this city won the best European destination in 2020? Colmar seems like a beautiful postcard. You can never get enough of the scenery. In fact, some people call it the French Venise. You will be charmed by its tiny colored houses, its lake, its narrow streets, and definitely the nature surrounding it all. If you are passionate about photography and posting breathtaking pictures on social media, this might be just the place. 

  1. Mont-Saint-Michel & Etretat

For those of you who are interested in history, architecture, and extraordinary views, do not hesitate to visit Mont-Saint-Michel. It has the particularity of being built on a rocky islet, surrounded by a magnificent bay; the scene of the highest tides in continental Europe. While you are there, consider passing by Etretat in Normandy; another picturesque place to visit in France. 

  1. Dune of Pilat (Grande Dune du pilat) 
French course Toulouse

The Dune of Pilat is the tallest in Europe. You’ll enjoy the beach, the sand, and the greenery. Let’s take a look at the pictures. They’ll speak for themselves. 

  1. Les calanques de Marseille
French course Marseille

When you go to the south of France, you will find a mixture of european and mediterranean atmospheres. In Marseille more specifically, you will find breathtaking views along the beach, nice restaurants, and lively streets. While enjoying all of that, make sure to pass by Les calanques de Marseille for more fun. 

  1. La Croisette de Cannes
French class Cannes

The long boulevard lined with palm trees and pines is the natural and sophisticated link between the beach and the city, which makes Cannes magical. Le Festival de Cannes, does that ring a bell? Of course! Then, make sure to put this name on your places to visit in France list.

France is… Wonderful? Fun? Interesting? Breathtaking? Unique? Yes! You guessed it right. France is all of these and more. It has always been one of the most attractive destinations all over the world. With its beautiful scenery, rich culture, history, art, and exquisite food, France attracts around 90 million tourists each year. So, if you are planning to visit France anytime soon or simply want to learn more about this beautiful country, you are in the right place. 

The secret behind a good French pronunciation

The secret behind a good French pronunciation

Keywords: learn French – language learning tips – online learning

As a language teacher and an avid language learner myself, I receive a lot of questions about accents and French pronunciation tips. From my teaching experience, the number one objective that most of my students ask for is to speak like a native; to practice the speaking portion until it comes naturally and has enough language knowledge to feel confident in approaching a wide range of topics. And while you might not always be lucky to find that regular language exchange buddy, there is another way in which you can practice your speaking skills. One that is almost always available to our reach: TV.

French pronounciation

I know that television may be less popular than ever in these times. With the rise of technology and the busy schedules, it may be a challenge. But also, with a rise of TECHNOLOGY and the busy SCHEDULES it is more accessible than ever. You don’t need to have a television in your home, a laptop will do. You don’t need to have access to a paying-platform, YouTube will do. And finally, the most important one: you don’t need to search for the perfect movie and set up movie night, a short sitcom on the go will do. All you have to do is type sitcoms, VF for “vérsion française” for French dubbing and subtitles and you can start your journey to improving your speaking skills. Personally, this method has been my practice buddy for so many years and with so many languages, it is reliable, fun and contrary to common misconceptions about television, very informative. Unlike what you may hear, YOU CAN LEARN A LOT FROM TV, and I HAVE. It is not only the pronunciation. You get to experience the culture: you get to learn about food, fashion and much more and top it off, you do all this while watching a comedy. Fun right?

Learn French pronunciation by movie

Now let’s get back to how TV can help your communication skills?

First, sitcoms are situational comedy which means that the topics are not heavy, and the social interactions are what you may encounter in your day to day life. It’s dialogues at a grocery store, at a café, ordering food or going to the bank. It’s time off with your friends, discussing routines, relationships and work. It is natural and easy flowing and exactly what you need. 

Second and most importantly, is the language used. Family-friendly sitcoms tend to mix between the familiar language we use with friends and family and the more formal language we use at work. Which means, you will NOT sound BOOKISH. Which is something that may be said about a language learner that reads books more than speaks with others. You learn the proper way to mix between the two according to the natives’ habits. 

Finally, a short sitcom means you can press pause and play as many times as you want to repeat the word, sentence or if you want to “act” out the whole scene. Repetition is key with this method; you have the chance to listen again and again unlike an actual human interaction. Don’t forget the intonation: tone, pitch, volume; sitcoms cross all these off your list to get you to speak like a native. 

French sitcom <Family Business>

Sound and subtitles:

It is important that you include both the French sound and the French subtitles. This will help you see the words you hear. Thus, you get to understand the rules behind the French pronunciation as well as the spelling. Two birds, one stone! And if you don’t understand the meaning of a word, just press pause and look it up in the dictionary: the subtitles will help you type the correct word and you can go back to the show and press play again. I suggest you watch each episode as many times as it takes you to feel comfortable enough to use the words and expressions the next time you find yourself in their shoes, and trust me, you will.

Do you want to get a better French pronunciation by practising with me or my colleagues? Check our current promotion.

7 Tips to learn a foreign language

Goodmorning!

Do you want to learn a new language quick? Maybe you need to learn a language so you can speak it on an upcoming trip, on new job responsibilities or at University. Whatever your reason is to learn a foreign language you probably want to be able to speak a new language sooner than later.

Tip 1. Speak Speak Speak

Ok, this is probably the most difficult part, but also the most effective. Don’t be shy to speak in your new language. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Talking with natives or even on an app everyday will get you closer to your goals of learning a foreign language.

Tip 2. Use Spotify and Netflix

You don’t have to leave your house to hear your new language. Make a playlist with songs in the language you want to learn on Spotify. Or look for a series in your foreign language on Netflix or YouTube. Even though you don’t understand much of it, You will pick up some new words.

Student watching Netflix

Tip 3. Use Social Media

You are probably spending some hours per day on social media right? Follow accounts in the language you want to learn and you will pick up new words and expressions.

Tip 4. Learn the most common words.

Languages are made of thousands if not million words. Luckily you don’t have to learn that many words. In English for example the top 100 words make up for about 50% of English language texts. When starting to learn a new language it is always a good idea to memorize the most common words first.

Tip 5. Learn everyday

Even though you don’t have much time. Try to learn the new language every day for 25 minutes. Learning in short blocks is proven to be more effective than studying for 4 hours in a row.

Student writing

Tip 6. Have fun 

This one is very important. Learning a language should be fun! Ok learning the grammar can be annoying at times but as soon as you know more it will be a lot of fun. Who doesn’t laugh about the mistakes they made in the beginning when learning a new language?

Tip 7. Learn at home

Especially now that we do more online than ever. Why not learn a foreign language online? Download an app like Duolingo where you set your goals and be motivated to practice every day. Or look for an online class like Rootalky to learn French for example.

Studying at home