Have you ever thought « Oh my god, Parisians speak SO fast! I’m not ready for this.» ?
If you’ve already been to France, that answer should be yes.
And that’s fine.
It takes time to understand French.
Here is the good news.
Either you assume you should go back to your grammar book and study for years until your French is perfect.
Or… you can check this post, go to France and have a conversation… with natives!
1. Fall in love with your accent
Your accent IS cute. I know how frightening it can be to speak when you are conscious you don’t have a perfect pronunciation.
Stop worrying about this right now. For a French person, the way you speak is super charming.
Your accent is part of you and you should cherish it. It makes who you are. And it makes you special. And more attractive!
Of course, this doesn’t mean « stop improving your French! ». It means « Don’t let it stop you speak French ». Keep practicing so will get understood all the time. Your cute accent will add charm your prononciation.
2. Ask the French to slow down
French speak fast. If you want to take part in a conversation or write down important information, you’ll have to ask them to slow down. How? Here are 3 phrases to sort you out:
Vous pourriez parler moins vite s’il vous plaît ?
Could you please slow down?
Vous pourriez répéter s’il vous plaît ?
Could you repeat please?
Vous pourriez me l’écrire s’il vous plaît ?
Could you write it down please?
This last phrase is very important. Because you should never let important information pass you by. If you go to the tourist office, the pharmacist or a hotel, it is vital to have the information you need, clear in mind.
3. Keep up with the news
Like everywhere in the world, French usually speak about what’s going on in the news.
In order to take part to the conversation at the « machine à café », it’s useful to know what’s happening in France.
Also, you’ll be able to pick up a few French words and expressions!
Here are a few ideas to keep up:
- TV news channel: ITele, BFM TV, France 24
- Free newspapers: 20 minutes, Metro
- Popular news websites: Rue89, lemonde.fr, Google Actualités
4. Be ready to present yourself
Have a 3 phrases presentation ready, in case you need to present yourself at a meetup. It’s hard to start presenting yourself without blushing and mumbling if you have to improvise every time you meet a new person.
Feel free to copy this one:
Bonjour, je m’appelle Sarah. Je suis américaine (canadienne/anglaise/australienne…). Je viens d’arriver en France. Je vais rester 3 mois. Je voudrais améliorer mon français.
5. Relax and have fun
Don’t overpressure yourself with speaking French perfectly and visiting every place. Enjoy your stay day by day.
French people love other cultures. As soon as you start talking to them, they will figure out your accent and start asking questions. So go out there!
And have fun. You’ll have a great time in France.