Improve your French Reading! It isn’t so hard… and it is important…
I just read a novel titled ‘A Year in the Merde’. It is about a British guy who works for a French company as a head marketing to manage a chain of café (franchise) in Paris.
From this hilarious story, I learned that it is really important to at least know how to read and understand the French words including the restaurant menu or signboards to make your life easier when you’re in France.
Furthermore, reading another language can help you to enrich your life and improve your cognitive skills (as mentioned in this great scientific report). You also will learn a lot about the fascinating and diverse French culture through reading.
If you’re an avid reader, being able to read French allows you to discover the great pieces of writing as French is one of the languages of art and literature. According to the Culture Trip article, “France has produced mountains of brilliant writers, philosophers and poets since the 20th century.”
At first, reading books written in a different language such as French might seem daunting but it can be more fun and valuable when you’re genuinely interested in the contents.
…But not at the beginning… I began Chinese 5 month ago and I didn’t want to just jump straight into serious stuff such as an economic essay or financial post. So I decided to start small and step by step with children books.
Here are some useful practical tips to improve your reading comprehension in French which can help you to score in the DELF Exam:
Read Through the Children’s Eye
That’s right! If you are completely new to French, I encourage you to start with the basic reading level first, for instance, read the children’s genre such as:
- Fairy tales
- Nursery rhymes
- Traditional and folk stories
- Picture book
- Encyclopaedia writing for kids in French
This activity might make you feel slightly awkward to pick up something that is not in your adult level. But it will help you to build a concrete foundation for higher literacy and understand the simple vocabulary. Your reading skill will develop through the different levels of books as you did with your native language.
Enjoy the Comic Books
If the children’s books are not the cup of your tea which is pretty understandable, another good steppingstone are comics. You may choose the stories that capture your interest to enjoy in the comic books. On my side I love the comics called Lanfeust de Troy and Lanfeust des Etoiles and if you check my Skype profile it refers to it… (I let you search, it’s somewhere in this website…)
According to 2017 research, it is shown that comic books are called ‘pleasure reading’, rewarding and can expand your vocabulary in the new language.
The combination of written word and images can help you to develop the imagination and boost memory. With the aid of their visual illustrations, you still have the clues to understand the stories even though you cannot understand all of the written text.
Besides, you also will learn the new words, phrases and how to use French conversationally through the dialogues in the comic text.
Devour News and Online Materials in French Every Day
You need to make a few minutes to inject the French reading in your daily routine. Below are the native news sites for you to read in the morning schedule or before bed:
- Le Monde
- Le Parisien
- 20 Minutes
- Vivre demain (I especially like this one because it contains very good ideas for the future generations. Besides, a lot of news are “Good News” and I prefer reading this rather than gossip…)
Put your time to understand the content and take note for the new words. When you make it as a habit, you will find yourself are improving and your reading speed also will increase. Apart from that, I also recommend you to read the blogs or website in your favourite niche.
Advanced Improvement of French Reading
Once you reach the advanced level, you can opt for the full novels that will transport you in some new worlds and ages. Are you familiar with the most famous novel in the 19th century like ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’?
If the classic novel is too difficult for you, you can start with the contemporary novel (with some easier vocabulary) or the ones that adapted into movies. You can browse and purchase them in Amazon.
More importantly, you have to find some book that you enjoy. The best books are the one that can spark your interest, push you to look up the words that you don’t understand and keep you reading until the end.
When I try to read a page in English, German, Spanish or Chinese, I jot down the unknown words, find the meanings and run through the passage again. By this way, I build the vocabulary.
Dictionary Is Your Best-Friend
Remember, when it comes to learning any languages, the dictionary is your best friend. This crucial tool can be used as an aid to learn and understand more vocabulary words.
I found these are the most helpful online French-English dictionaries that you can use during the reading time:
However, you should try to read on your own for familiarization and see if you can understand the general meaning of sentence before looking up the words in the dictionary.
Change the Language of Your Social Media Setting to French
In this modern-day, we can integrate the use of technology with the learning opportunity. Why do most people understand English? It might be because it is around us. We see the English words almost everywhere either in Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or blogs.
One of the useful steps to achieve some level of immersion in French is get used to it by switching your media social language settings to French. For example, set your Facebook page in French and use them several times a day.
And you can also do the same with everything that is “connected” like your computer or phone.
It might be confusing at the beginning, but you will find it very helpful to get you improve and then master French Reading. You will encounter some new words which can enhance the vocabulary and spelling.
However, make sure you still can figure out where to click the button “Anglais“. 😉
Also, I suggest you follow the French brands, personalities or communities such as the DelfSchool Facebook page to fill your newsfeed with updates, news and pictures in francais so you can grow accustomed to it.
After you have immersed yourself in the language environment, get informed about the DELF exam to test your proficiency level at French.
How to get ready for reading DELF Exam?
The secret is, Study! Study! Study!
To make your learning process easier, I definitely can assist you as I am a French native teacher. I have been teaching French since 2015 to students from all over the world through offline and online French courses.
If you need help for the DELF Reading Exam, check out our previous blog post.
And for One to One Tailor-made Lessons with me you can follow this link to improve your French Reading Listening Speaking and Writing Skills.