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Learning a language isn’t only about speaking it !

Whilst most language learners learn a language to ‘speak’ it and will try to speak at any given opportunity to improve, some others will immerse themselves into ‘reading’ to take their language skills to the next level.

And by reading, I don’t mean reading Molière or Balzac’s masterpieces of literature. Read pieces at your level or those that will challenge you a little rather than put you off.

Reading allows you to enjoy / access the language at your own pace, paying attention to the various aspects of the written language, jotting down new words, highlighting structures of interest. Realising for yourself that you understand more and more after each reading will keep you motivated to learn the language. .

Here are some reasons why reading in French will help you become more fluent in the language.

- Learn new vocabulary in its context. No more just learning lists of words to expand your vocabulary. By reading an article on a specific topic that interests you, you will learn new words on that topic and hopefully, reuse them in the future again. Don’t look up all the words you don’t know straight away – See if you can guess the gist of the word in its context. Write it down on a notepad with the meaning that you thought it had and once you have finished reading, look it up in a dictionary. If that specific word comes up again, see if your idea of the meaning works in that sentence.

- Improve your comprehension and understanding of the French grammar and tenses. We all know that the French grammar and tenses aren’t the easiest to master, however by reading, you can stop and look at some sentences’ structures and pay more attention to some that you might often get wrong when speaking. Look some up online or in your grammar book to understand the structure. Negations, passé composé or subjonctif could be some of the trickier points.

- Read part of the text aloud. Quiet reading and reading aloud are two very different things! Give reading aloud a go on a few lines of the text to improve your pronunciation. Work on your speed. Don’t rush it, pronounce the words properly and if you aren’t 100% sure how to pronounce one of them, listen to it online. You could also record yourself and listen to the recording, checking that you can fully understand the content or read to a friend who speaks the language and can correct your pronunciation. I know that these two options won’t be for everyone!

- Listen to the audio version of a book. Get your paper book or e-book out and listen to the audio version at the same time. Would you have pronounced the words the same way, at the same speed? Listen to the intonation of the narrator / reader to train your ear.

Choose a few lines / a paragraph that you enjoyed or found some difficult words to pronounce and ‘shadow’ the narrator. Try to keep up the same pace as the narrator to improve your fluency and pronunciation. It isn’t easy at the beginning, but this will help you with your spoken French.

Keep yourself exposed to the French language on a daily basis if you can. Reading 2 pages of a book or a short article a day will do wonders for your French!

What will YOU be reading? Blogs, social media post, short story, comic, newspaper or magazine articles or a novel?

Tell us in the comments.

Enjoy your language reading journey! Sophie

PS: For those of you who haven’t tried Fitting in with the French’s programme yet, give us a go for a FREE trial! One week to read, write, listen and speak French with the support of myself, a native French tutor. Sign up here for your trial – places are limited.

Bonne lecture! Sophie

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