Whatever you do in your French life, keep doing it – but in English!
It’s time to start being English
You may wonder why ‘Start being English’ is at the end …
Well, it’s because ‘starting’ is often the last thing most people do – and some never start.
The reason most people never start is because online tests them a level (A2 or B1 or B2 – see our guide to language levels here) and they’re happy with that!
Don’t be one of those people!
The problem with online tests
Online tests only require knowledge whereas conversation requires knowledge, intelligence, listening skills, skills in responding under pressure etc, etc.
They are very different tests!
online tests only focus on knowledge
Our online test will test your English knowledge for free. (You can pay for conversation tests if you want).
As a general rule, your knowledge level (from an online or textbook test) is usually at least one level higher than your conversation level.
So if you score ‘Intermediate’ on our test, you are probably a ‘Pre-Intermediate’ level speaker.
This is especially the case in France where grammar teaching is very good, but conversation practise is much less common.
So most people think they are much better at another language than they are!
Learning is like eating
Anyhow, if you’ve read this far, bravo!
The key now is to keep it going.
Learning is like eating healthily or exercise: if you do it every day, and keep at it, you’ll notice improvements.
You can’t just do it once a week and expect to live forever (unfortunately)
So it’s time to develop some (good) habits. There is a list below, but to summarise: whatever you do in your French life, keep doing it – but in English!
Some good habits
1. Take an English test and start being English with an English language course. Ensure it is a course that lasts throughout the year and then make sure you go every week! Simple!
2. Listen to English regularly between lessons. Radio is a great thing to do that with. We recommend BBC radio 2 – for music and conversation. Listen when you’re doing the washing, or the ironing, or cooking – just let it wash over you! (Save French radio for times when you don’t have a good internet connection, like in the car, or when you’re walking.) See our section on pretending.
3. Read the magazine you ordered – don’t just let it sit on a table. Read it on the bus, tram or train. Use what you read to build stories – “I read the other day that … “
4. Find an English conversation class in your area. Try to find one with a native English speaking teacher present who can identify your mistakes and correct them – like Learnch. If you can’t find one near you, italki.com is a good place to find people who are willing to talk with you in English and can be FREE if you find someone who wants to speak your language in return.
5. Find some English TV programmes on the internet to watch – and SUBSCRIBE to the channel so that you get reminders by email to keep watching! If you have live english channels on your TV, tune into them. Nature programmes are a great place to start as they are usually very visual and don’t require much language at all.
6. Watch English language films. There are A LOT of films in English. A good companion is the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) where you can find reviews of practically every film that has ever been made.
If you are worried about losing track of what’s happening in the news in your own country when you’re learning English, watch a news channel that broadcasts to English people. In France, for example, there is France24. You’re still hearing the news France, but in English!
And finally …
Many people say they have been learning English for many years but they haven’t improved.
So, how long does it take to learn a language?
Academics agree that it takes around 100 hours to move from one stage to the next, that is A1-A2, B1-B2 etc. (see our guide to language levels here)
We think that the ‘100 hours’ should be regular, weekly lessons during one year (not 10 hours a day for ten days) with regular practice between lessons, such as the activities listed above, or, Learnch which gives you two hours of conversation in English for 5€ in Nantes.
Of course, the more hours you can spend speaking English, the better, as long as someone is identifying and correcting your errors!
So go ahead – make plans to start being English!
To read more of our blog about learning English you can return to the home page here
Stuart opened Bards Language School, Nantes, in September 2017 – and Learnch, in March 2018 – to help French students develop their spoken English.