Speaking is the most difficult skill when you learn a foreign language. Indeed, you need to mobilize all your linguistic and cultural knowledge quickly to be able to communicate what you want.
Language students are often frustrated during this phase because they cannot express themselves as comfortably as they wished.
Here are some pieces of advice to improve your speaking skills in French :
- Think in French. Don’t try to translate the message word by word from your native language.
- Simplify your ideas and use the vocabulary that you know.
- If you don’t know a word in French, you can give its definition or you can directly ask the person to whom you’re speaking to help you find / learn the right word.
- Try to speak in French whatever happens, never speak English ! As English is a lingua franca, people will try to practice with you but be strong, you need to practice your foreign language too !
- Try to apply the grammar you know. For example, think of using the right tense when you can identify that it’s the right context to use it.
- Don’t panic. Be the master of your speech. Take the time you need to express yourself in a clear way.
- Listen to yourself and if you notice a big mistake, don’t hesitate to correct yourself. Say “pardon” and say your sentence again. Correcting yourself is not a sign of weakness but proof that the quality of your speech matters. If you need two attempts to succeed in saying a clear sentence, don’t worry. Native speakers hesitate and make mistakes when they speak too. The brain is not always perfect.
- Seize all the opportunities to speak in French. The more practice you get, the more comfortable you will be.
- Analyze the situation of communication before using “tu” or “vous” or some slang.
- If you don’t understand the other person immediately, say “pouvez-vous répéter lentement, s’il vous plaît?”
- Accept the corrections from the native speakers. They will help you in the future.
- If one day, you meet a person who does not have the patience to speak with you because you make some mistakes and you’re not quick enough, change interlocutors, this person is not worth it and has certainly never practiced any foreign language.
Be self-confident. You have a superior position because you are the one making effort by speaking a foreign language. Everybody will appreciate your effort, even if it’s not perfect.
Don’t be discouraged. Speaking a foreign language is not easy but your efforts will be rewarded one day. You will be proud of yourself. Being able to speak a foreign language will allow you to live magical times and live experiences that you wouldn’t have had by speaking your native language only.