‘Cours d’anglais’ or ‘English courses’?
Did you know that more people in France search for ‘cours d’anglais’ in a search engine than ‘english courses’?
Why is that unusual?
Did you search for ‘cours d’anglais’ or ‘english courses’ in Nantes?
Well, normally we use language that is relevant to the situation we are in.
When we go into a shop, we should use language that is going to help us get what we want from that shop – such as ‘how much is that?’, or ‘can I pay by card?’
Yet I often receive telephone calls from students who can speak English very well – yet they speak to me in French on the telephone.
The opposite of the language they should use!
Eventually I ask them “Do you speak any English?”
“A little”, they reply … and then they continue the conversation in perfectly serviceable English!
Rule number 1:
Speaking about English in French is not learning English.
So, why can I understand English but not speak English?
The best English language schools speak English during lessons.
Or, to put it another way – you probably learned English at school by having everything explained to you in French.
The best English language schools speak English during lessons
During all that time you were thinking in French.
You need to think in English before you can speak English.
So typing ‘cours d’anglais’ instead of ‘English courses’ keeps your brain thinking in French.
Thinking in English leads to speaking English.
But being taught in English is DIFFICULT!
Yes it is, but imagine a class of ten students from ten different countries …
What language should the teacher use for each of them?
English, is the only answer
It would be impossible to speak to each of them in their own language!
Just saying ‘Hello’ would take ten minutes!
If your teacher at school spoke in French during your English lesson, you were not learning English.
You were learning about English, but you weren’t learning English.
This is a big problem of how English is taught in French schools.
It’s a bit like paying for driving lessons but being taught how to swim!
Being taught in English is not a punishment!
English and French should be taught differently
It’s true that French and English are both languages, but they are different subjects – and they should be taught quite differently!
To find out the main ways in which English and French differ see our ‘How French and English are different’ post.
But, to put it simply:
- When you start to learn French, French grammar is probably the most important – and most difficult – thing to understand.
- When you start to learn English, how English is spoken is probably the most important – and most difficult – thing to understand.
If you spent all your time learning English grammar at school and not practicing speaking, that’s why you find it difficult to speak English now!
Speaking is the difficult part of learning English, not grammar.
One of the most important parts of learning a language is experiencing it – not reading about it.
Do everything you do in France in English!
Listening to native speakers talking, for example, isn’t just to test your knowledge of English grammar: it’s to find out how you really speak English.
Receiving letters and text messages and emails is the same: no text book can describe how letters or text messages or emails are written better than real letters, real text messages and real emails.
Both of these things can begin the moment you start to organise English lessons.
Talk to your teacher in English as soon as you meet them – in English!
(A tip: don’t book lessons on the telephone. Telephone conversations in a second language are much more difficult than face to face conversations.)
At Bards we recommend you take our online test before you come in.
That way we already know your name when you arrive – and, more importantly, what level of English to use when we speak to you!
Remember – reading about an English course in French is not experiencing English.
So if you’re reading this post in English – GREAT! – the experience has already started!
Get as much speaking practise as you can.
So how do I experience English?
(1) Start an English course 🙂
(2) Try to speak as much English during each lesson as you can! (Even if it feels really difficult …)
(3) Focus on every word in your books – the questions as well – and begin to study how English is used.
(4) Try to attend conversation classes between lessons to keep your learning at the front of your mind. If you live in Nantes, come to Learnch where you can practise English for two hours, every day.
For great tips on how to learn English see our post on Start being English
Stuart opened Bards Language School, Nantes, in September 2017 – and Learnch, in March 2018 – to help French students develop their spoken English.