(Photo by: www.thegoodlifefrance.com – one of my favorite French for Anglophone expats sites!)
I’m a firm believer that studying abroad for a semester or even 2 doesn’t make you fluent in French but it sure can improve your French skills by leaps and bounds. Just in case you’re not sure if your French has gotten better, here’s 6 telltale signs that you are rockin’ it in the foreign language department:
1) You mix up spellings: When you find yourself writing the French version of adresse when you’re trying to write address in English, you know you’ve achieved a higher level of French. Why? If you’re making spelling errors like this it means that you have developed a French speaking part of the brain which you’ve been using pretty regularly. Woohoo!
2) You say “euh” instead of “um”: English speakers interject “um” in a conversation for many reasons. However, when you replace “um” with the French “euh” instead, it really shows how much of French culture and linguistics you’ve adopted.
3) You forget the word in English but remember it in French even though it’s a common English word you use all the time: This is probably the biggest clue that your French has improved tenfold. When your brain is using the French side more often from growing and learning each day, common English words and expressions get replaced by the more often used French words. It’s not like you were speaking English anymore anyway :p
(photo by: forums.denden.co.uk)
4) You dream in French: It’s true that if you can dream in another language that you’ve reached some level of fluency. It may not happen all the time but when you do it, you’ll know you’re well on your way to true fluency.
(Ok so it’s not exactly the same but who knows what language French bulldogs dream in. Photo by: bulldog-haven.com)
5) You don’t know the expression or word you’re looking for so you describe it: We’ve previously discussed the pros and cons of using Franglais (a combination of the French and English language). As a new full time French speaker, you may find yourself relying on Franglais when you don’t know a word but a hint you’re getting more comfortable in French is when you explain the things you don’t know how to say instead of using Franglais. Novice speakers will be more comfortable speaking less French, hence why they use more Franglais. But a sign you’re getting better at and becoming more comfortable with speaking French is finding ways to talk more such as describing things you don’t know.
6) French speakers understand you when you speak: French speakers really appreciate when you make any attempt to speak French but their appreciation doesn’t always equal comprehension. Way off pronunciation and lack of vocab can limit a French person’s understanding of what you’re trying to say. When your French classmates visibly understand what you’re saying without having to think about it or infer, you know you’ve reached the better French jackpot.
If you have experienced any or all of these things- Congrats! Your French skills have dramatically improved. But like any skill, if you don’t keep it up you can lose it. For tips on how to maintain your newly improved French skills check out Twenty in Paris on Amazon (available for your e-reader and smart phone).