I know my newsletter is a bit late but I’ve just been on holiday in Normandy and enjoying warm (not too hot) weather, the sea, mussels, French coffee and wine, the amazing sunsets and of course, practicing my French! We stayed in Agon-Coutainville which is a pretty small town mainly visited by French tourists.

I love having the opportunity to speak French (I studied French and German but my French has got rather rusty!) so I thought I would let you know what I did every day starting at about ninish in the morning (adding -ish to a time is a wonderful way to be vague 😊).

  • I did my morning exercises to French morning TV (tĂ©lĂ©matin) and, mainly because I could not find them 😊, tried to understand the reports without subtitles. I found my understanding got better every day and I was quickly learning vocabulary as it was constantly repeated. I love the way the French speak with so much expression, waving their arms about, and it certainly helps to understand it!
  • Although I could have got through the week quite happily just speaking English, I took every opportunity to speak French in the shops, cafĂ©s and restaurants and it was fun to discuss words and grammar with my friend who teaches French and speaks really well.
  • I practiced writing French to the landlord of our holiday home which was fun and got lots of tips on the area we were staying in.
  • We dived into the French culture, learning the language along the way and I was fascinated by a spontaneous visit to a fish soup factory and of course all the amazing markets.

I was never too afraid to ask the other person to speak more slowly (they speak so fast!) but, of course, I know this is easier in a holiday context than if you’re in that all important English meeting at work and have problems understanding.

I am very grateful to my Belgian ex-colleague and friend Isabelle who I do tandem training with (we speak French and then English) for her patience as her English is much better than my French! I think you need to get on well to do this on a fairly regular basis but the practice helps a lot.

So if you are visiting an English-speaking country, take a deep dive into the opportunity to practice your skills – it is a great opportunity!

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