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Section 1

#17 Learn to describe your everyday environment in French.

One of my co-workers keeps up a running dialogue under her breath of everything she is doing during the course of the day. “I have to get the mail. Where is the key? The delivery truck should be here any time.” To build your French vocabulary, learn the words and expressions for the things you say to yourself as a matter of course, and begin to chronicle your life in French. “J’ai froid. Je dois fermer la porte.” (I’m cold. I need to shut the door.)

play J’ai froid. Je dois fermer la porte.
I’m cold. I need to shut the door.

One caution here – make sure the terminology you’re using is actually the correct way to say that in French, not just something you’ve made up as you wrestle with your new language. Many phrases such as “J’ai froid” are idioms; in this case, you’re actually saying “I have cold,” but you’re not implying you’re sick. Many language programs (like Rocket French) have online forums where you can ask for help in saying just the right thing in just the right way. If not, a good phrase book should help.

#18 Start a French journal!

When you first begin to write down your thoughts in French, your writing will be laughably bad. Your grammar will be awful. Your sentence structure will be appalling. Any French speaker with a sense of humor would be rolling on the floor laughing. But journaling is just for you, your private attempts to wrestle with expressing yourself in a new language.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else would think, because they aren’t going to get to read it. Write a little something every day, even if it’s nothing more than “Il est minuit et je suis fatigué” (It’s midnight and I’m tired). As you study more French, learn more vocabulary, and gain a better grasp of the language, your journal will reflect that, and it will become not just a learning tool but a valuable form of selfexpression.

play Il est minuit et je suis fatigué.
It’s midnight and I’m tired.

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