How to improve the oral comprehension in French ?
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Hi English speakers who want to Learn French 🙂 !
In this article I share with you How to improve the oral comprehension in French (and others foreign languages) ?
There are 4 things to consider when learning a foreign language are :
- Written production
- Oral production
- Written comprehension
- Oral comprehension
In this article I talk about oral comprehension.
Oral comprehension is not taught in school, we do not learn to listen. School education in general (not specifically for languages) is not adequate.
To improve one's knowledge of a foreign language, it is important to focus on one of these four elements at once, to study one element at a time. For example, if I want to improve the oral comprehension, I choose, during a time that I defined beforehand, to work only listening. It is important, to build a good foundation in the learning and improvement of foreign languages (so also of French), not to work several elements in the same exercise. When I will feel more comfortable I will mix together several of these 4 elements.
What is oral comprehension ?
Listening in a foreign language in 4 steps :
- The segmentation
- Information processing
Each language structures the sounds in different ways, for example, the sound of an animal can be translated by different sounds and syllabic structures, for example the purr of a cat : ronron, purr, schnurren,…
Each language is also part of a frequency range of its own which more or less overlaps the frequency register of another language.
In the same way that the violinist has to play a lot and listen to the sounds he produces on his instrument to find the right note and manage to produce it again, the foreign language learner has to listen a lot to learn how to "tune his ear " on the good frequency of the language he discovers. For this there is only one thing that is valid is active listening. And not passive listening.
For example, actively listening is like this :
- Watch (listen) a small piece of a movie, for example 5 or 10 seconds
- Listen again to understand what I did not understand the first time
- Repeat the same thing until I can differentiate the sounds, understand all the words and make sense of what I hear
The brain compares the sounds or groupings of sounds heard (which it has segmented into syllables) to those it already knows to identify the words that correspond to them. This stage is based on prior knowledge, that of words and that of possible combinations of words. If this knowledge is insufficient the decoding of what the person I am listening to will not be precise enough or fast.
Then comes the stage of understanding.
If the theme on which the listener is listening is familiar to him, the vocabulary will be more easily recognized. Likewise, the more rich and extensive the vocabulary of the learner, the easier and quicker his comprehension will be.
Finally, the brain analyzes the meaning of the different words that follow each other in what the listener listens to extract an idea.
Practice listening actively for good oral comprehension
Find an activity you like to do :
- Watch a movie
- Listen to the radio
- Listen to songs
- Work with audiobooks
Go back and forth between oral comprehension and oral production
- Listen and repeat what I hear, if I cannot (or I don’t dare) say aloud (if I'm in the bus for example), I repeat in my head.
- Listen for a few seconds, listen to this short passage until I hear, understand and repeat it.
- I do not understand a word, I cannot hear it, I look at the subtitles, I learn the word or the end of the sentence and I listen again. By going back and forth between oral production and listening I improve my ability to understand, I enrich my library with new sounds.
Producing allows you to hear better and improve your listening skills.
To complete my article about oral comprehension you can read How to Quickly Improve Your Understanding of Spoken French from frenchtogether.com.
Thanks for reading this article 🙂
Tell me in the comments, I will write an article about it !
Thank you 🙂
Thomas Ricomard specializes in teaching French as a foreign language. He has been providing private lessons since 2015, both in-person and online (via Skype). He taught at the Popular University of the Canton of Geneva (Switzerland) from 2015 to 2018, instructing several groups of 20 students from around the world (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mexico, etc.), ranging from beginner to intermediate levels (A1 to B2). With a Master’s degree in clinical and cognitive psychology from the University of Geneva, his knowledge of psychology allows him to tailor his teaching methods for optimal learning, taking into account factors such as visual memory versus auditory memory. He expresses his passion for the French language through writing texts, including poetry and songs, which he presents publicly at numerous music and slam events.