Welcome to the third and last episode of the 3-day challenge to help you gain clarity on your goals and propel you to finally succeed at learning the French language. I am your host Marie-Eve Brideau, Language Coach extraordinaire, and today we are talking about setting up goals related to the fluency and mastery of the French language. If you haven’t listened to the first two episodes yet, stop right now and go look in your email for the first two emails in the series.

So far, we’ve seen how to stay motivated, how to create goals that are S.M.A.R.T, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic or Relevant to your situation and Time-Bound. We even started setting up our goals for what language mechanics we want to learn. I hope your brainstorming session went well and that you were able to come up with some good goals and that you are motivated to start working on your project.

Today, we are setting up goals that are related to what makes the language flow, be it vocabulary, pronunciation and general flow. Now how do we go about that? Mechanics of a language can be easier to learn on your own because the Internet is full of amazing resources. Those resources are also available for vocabulary and pronunciation but you may need to dig a little deeper.

So let’s get back to our original project, to be able to order dinner at a restaurant during my next road trip in Quebec City. We’ve looked at some of the mechanics we could to learn, we wrote down a script to help focus and now, how do we make it usable on my trip? To do that, what goals should we set? We will likely need vocabulary to adapt that script to different menu items unless you want to limit yourself to mushroom pizza for a week!

Here’s a few brainstorming ideas: we will likely need dinner food items, drinks, desserts, how to ask for a table for 4, mention my allergy to dairy products and ask for the washroom. A great way to build vocabulary that is tailored to your specific situation is to use mind maps. On your worksheet, you will find a sample mind map to help you visualize it. Get all your thoughts on paper regardless if you will need it or not. You can decide later on what you want to add to your personal dictionary. I will talk about the personal dictionary in more details a little later so stay tuned!

So I will take one session to build my mind map and one session to enter the words I don’t know in my personal dictionary. You can always write the words you know as well as a refresher, it’s up to you. And then, I will take my good old dictionary or use an online French-English dictionary to get the translation on paper. Again, please don’t use an online translator to do the work for you since you will not learn much from it. That exercise, even if it may sound time-consuming, will help you understand more deeply and will help you retain the vocabulary.

Okay, now I have the vocabulary I need, I understand the mechanics of the language. Let’s piece it together. There are a few tools that you can use to help you with pronunciation. Some online dictionaries will offer an audio option so you can listen to the words. Even the text-to-speech on your computer may be helpful.

Of course, to practice pronunciation, having feedback is the best. Maybe you can find a conversation group in your city to practice. Even without that, the online tools are very helpful to help you hear it. So hide your pride and record yourself. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the way it sounds. You can always improve it if you work at it. Maybe there are some sounds you already have hands down so way to go! Focus on the ones that are more difficult to you, always keep in mind that the goal is not for you to sound like a native speaker the first time you try. Just with like every other goal, try to make it as specific as possible. For example, I want to pronounce the « O » sound that can be written EAU, AU, O. To do so, I will look for 20 words that contain the sound « O », will listen to text-to-speech and practice by recording myself and comparing both.

Phew, that was another day filled with a lot of information. I hope you learned something from it. Like I said earlier, I wanted to talk a little bit about a few tricks and tools you can use to make your journey more enjoyable and effective.

A personal dictionary is an amazing tool to help you build and retain the vocabulary you encounter on a daily basis. The best tool is to use a steno pad, a notebook with a line in the middle. Put English on one side and French on the other. You can find an example in your workbook. You could divide it in sections, by vocabulary words or expressions. Use your imagination. As much as technologies are helpful, the brain needs to be in contact with a concept, a word or an expression about 7 times in different contexts before it sticks. Seeing it, hearing it and writing it down uses three of those times, so let’s take advantage of it.

The journey to learning a language, just like learning any skills, can be difficult but with motivation, determination, the right tools and the right mindset, it can be a lot of fun and a lifetime’s worth of experiences. Try to reward yourself for each goal you achieve and it will not appear like a chore. If you were passionate about learning crochet or piano, wouldn’t you want to practice until you get it right? Same goes for languages!

So that’s it for this 3-day challenge. I hope you enjoyed it and that you start putting those tricks into action. Please send me an email or let me know on Facebook what your goals are for the upcoming weeks. I will be there to cheer you on. If you want to work with me or read more tricks and tips to help you on your journey to learn French, visit my website at www.alaperfection.ca.

A bit confused? Need additional help?