Often, people who learn a foreign language always have a good reason not to progress faster, not to go further in their learning. The two most common reasons are: 1. I do not have enough time. 2. I would love to go live in this country, but it’s impossible. Nothing is impossible if you decide to do it and if you are a little creative. To combine this problem of time and this lack of immersion, you will find here 49 tips to create a French immersion experience, 24 hours a day. This article gives you 49 good solutions to live like the French people at home.
The morning routine in French
As soon as you wake up, think French
1. If you start your day with exercises (abdominals, pumps, etc.), count each of your movements in French. If you find that counting from 1 to 20 is too easy, then count from 30 to 50, or from 60 to 80. The number of movements does not change, but your proficiency in French will improve.
2. If you prefer to start your new day by meditating, then meditate in French. Look for a French meditation app, or a French podcast dedicated to meditation. If you prefer to meditate alone without outside help, then from time to time, clearly in your head, formulate, in French, the present moment.
3. Some followers of personal development like to say affirmations out loud to reinforce their motivation, their energy. Then say your affirmations in French.
4. Others visualize their day. How they want this day to be: the organization, the work done, the results, the meetings, the mood, the energy … Do not just visualize, but verbalize your day in French.
5. Set your priorities in French thinking like Steve Jobs who wondered each morning: if it was my last day, what should I really do?
6. While drinking your coffee or tea, listen to the news on French radio. On the internet, you can find all the French-language radio stations in the world. Try France inter, France info, International France radio.
7. If you prefer to read the newspaper for breakfast, read the internet versions of the major French-language newspapers. Try to discover two or three newspapers per major French-speaking country. Don’t limit yourself to France, but see what happens in Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec. Francophone newspapers in Africa can also be very exotic.
8. Write your to-do-list in French. It’s a great way to learn vocabulary. As some tasks come back regularly, it’s perfect for repetitions. Of course, in the long run you may not learn a new word, so write sentences.
The decoration of your walls
Create a francophone environment …
9. Stick posters on your walls, in every room. But beware, on these posters: 1. There must be some text; 2. This text must be in French; 3. Half of the posters can be purely decorative; 4. The other half should be instructive with useful French phrases or with mind-maps on a particular theme. If you make these posters yourself, you’ll well occupied… in French.
10. Stick post-it notes everywhere! It’s a great way to learn vocabulary. Just write down on a post-it the name of a thing and stick it on that thing or next to it. Beginners may cover their entire home with post-it; you can do one room at a time. Remove the post-it from words you’ve learned, but keep all of them. Once the last post-it is removed, put all the post-it notes back in their place to see if you’ve retained the vocabulary. For advanced levels, I challenge you to scan every room of your house and ask yourself if you really know the name of all the contents. How do you say « power-up / socket » in French? And « door handle »?
A little reading can’t hurt
French is a lot of oral, but it’s also a bit of writing…
11. Always have French magazines in the toilet. Generally, short texts lend themselves perfectly to that place… If you haven’t had the opportunity to bring back French magazines from your last trip, ask your friends if they can bring you some, go to the French institutes/French alliances/embassy-consulate to ask them if they can give you old magazines.
12. Have an attractive bookcase. How? Arrange some of your books as booksellers, do highlight French book covers that make you want to read, or catchy titles… so that you fall into the trap yourself to take a book and open it.
13. Always have a book in French on your bedside table. Firstly, because reading in bed is a good activity (the quietness of the place and the comfortable position are conducive to reading.) Secondly, because reading is a fantastic sleeping pill at the end of the day. If you fall asleep with a book in French in your hands, maybe you will dream in French.
14. Read comics in French. Thanks to the incredible power of the context of the pictures, you understand to some extent a part of the story and it helps you a lot to understand a word, a sentence, and the dialogues of the comic strip. If your public library does not offer comics in French, ask them to purchase some.
15. If you do not know a word, consult a dictionary. But be careful, take a monolingual French dictionary. The unknown French word will be explained … in French. Is it difficult? No more difficult than real immersion where a francophone will explain in French the meaning of a word.
16. To complete the monolingual dictionary, or if it is still a bit complicated, use a 100% French visual dictionary. Such a dictionary is a real dive into the French-speaking world, thematically and pictorially.
17. If you like arrow crosswords and crossword puzzles, then get them in French. Opt for a fairly easy level at first. You play in French, you think in French, you write in French.
18. To train with vocabulary and spelling (and if you find crossword puzzles still a little too difficult for your level), take wordsearch puzzles. Have a small notebook next to the puzzle to note the new words.
19. Change the language settings of your smartphone, and choose French. Every time you use your smartphone, you will be immersed in the virtual world, but in French. Immersion at home is also a digital immersion.
20. If your eyes are tired, lie down on the couch and listen to audio books in French. You can easily find some on the internet, paid or free (librivox, littérature audio, audiocité, biblioboom).
Relax in front of the television or on your smartphone
Are you tired of reading in French and learning vocabulary with dictionaries? So, rest, by watching videos, series, movies, in French of course..
21. Give up videos of cats that are only meow! Watch videos on YouTube that teach French. For beginners, check out the many videos of the Français illustré. For the more advanced, watch videos of general knowledge in French, relating to the news, relevant to your current interests or your hobbies.
22. If the speed of YouTube videos is too fast, you can change the playback speed in the video settings (click on the gear).
23. If the flow of words is always difficult to understand, activate the French subtitles on YouTube. Because watching a French video with English subtitles will not improve your French.
24. Search for French series and movies on Netflix. After watching one or two, Netflix’s algorithm will tend to offer you other French series/films. There too, watch the series/films in the original version subtitled in French.
25. Watch any films in French. With a DVD or Netflix, it is often possible to choose the language and subtitles. Opt definitely for the French language, even if the film or series are not French. It’s a bit artificial, okay, but your immersion at home is also a little artificial.
Get in touch with Francophones through social media.
26. Follow French-speaking accounts on Facebook and/or on Instagram, and comment on their posts. Do more: ask them questions. And maybe a dialogue in French will be born. If so, continue the dialogue with other issues. Be interested in your interlocutors: they like that and will be more easily ready to answer you.
27. You can also share on Facebook groups dedicated to learning French. You will then communicate with other people with the same passion or the same goal, and sometimes with French teachers who intervene on these groups as experts.
28. If you are lucky enough to have the phone number of a francophone, consider it a treasure. Because then you can have conversations on Whatsapp. This messaging service is fantastic because it removes many barriers (send an email, it’s too complicated, phone can disturb, send a postcard, let’s not talk about them). With Whatsapp, a few words are enough to fuel a conversation. And if you do not know what to say, post a photo related to what you have just experienced.
There are domestic tasks that do not require much of your brain. Use the remaining part to listen to French.
29. There is nothing like listening to French songs while cleaning. It gives you a lot of energy, it makes you forget that cleaning is a task that we would like to delegate one day… Try Chante France.
30. Another way to use hidden time (i.e. time you can find while doing something else) is to listen to podcasts in French while you’re cooking. Unless the recipe is new and complicated, most of the time you cook quite mechanically. So you can devote time to the incredibly diverse world of podcasts. You can listen to podcasts to learn French. Beginners, listen to the podcasts of the Français illustré. For the more advanced, there is the podcast français facile. But you can also listen to French-language podcasts related to your interests, your passions, your hobbies.
31. If you’re not afraid to look crazy, say what you’re doing in French. Do you clean up? Say out loud what you’re doing. It sometimes requires a little preparation, to take a look in a dictionary, but hey … it’s great to stimulate your kinesthetic memory (the one that associates a concept, a thing, a word with a gesture). This oral exercise can be applied to all domestic activities of the house, but also of course in everything you do at home (I drink coffee, I cut bread, I go to the bathroom, I take my toothbrush, etc.).
The importance of eating well for the French
French immersion cannot do without gastronomy, food, cooking. Be aware that one of the main topics of conversation in France at the table is food.
32. Get cookbooks in French or check out French recipes on the internet (texts and/or videos). This is the ultimate exercise of understanding! If you have understood the text of the recipe/video, it will be good. The contents of your plate will prove your level in French.
33. But before making the recipe, you will probably have to go shopping. Write your shopping list in French. Excellent for learning vocabulary!
34. Your immersion will be complete if your kitchen gives off a smell reminiscent of France. Cook French dishes, or dishes of French-speaking countries… with recipes in French naturally!
35. Live on French time! Try to eat in French hours. Have a breakfast in the morning with a ‘croissant’ or a ‘pistolet’ (small baguette). You should be able to find pre-cooked bread that looks like French bread. Five minutes in the oven and you get fresh bread. Have a lunch usually hot at noon, which lasts about an hour. Have a snack around four o’clock in the afternoon. In the evening, dinner around seven, or half past. If you have time, just before lunch and dinner, have an aperitif (a pastis, a kir, champagne if you can afford it).
36. Invite Francophones at home for an aperitif, a snack, a dinner. If you don’t have Francophones in your circle of friends, don’t worry, there are always Francophones everywhere. Ask around you if people know French speaking people. Use social media, get in touch first, and only then invite. If it is difficult to find Francophones, invite people who are learning French, and call the invitation ‘French café at home’ where you will speak only French. And why not, invite French teachers for a good meal.
Plan your holidays in Francophonie
Even if your finances do not allow you, nothing prevents you from dreaming or making long-term plans.
37. Take an atlas and dive into the country of your French-speaking destination. If you can get a road map of the country, that’s good too. Say out loud the names of regions, lakes and rivers, towns and villages. You will already feel like traveling.
38. Get travel guides (libraries, bookstores, internet) on the French-speaking destination of your choice, and start defining your program. Ideally, you should get guides in French.
39. Read travel stories; even if it is not in French, it should be about French-speaking culture. Search the internet for « travel stories in France » and you’ll get many titles from old and recent books. Do the same for all other French-speaking countries.
40. Check out French-language websites on tourism in the chosen country. Search in French for « tourisme + the name of the country or region you want to visit », to find in French the tourist information sites of a French-speaking city, region and country. This will have many advantages: you will dream of your trip, you will prepare it, you will increase your knowledge of the country, and you will practice French.
Don’t forget your hobbies
If you read this article, it’s because learning French (or foreign languages) is one of your hobbies, so…
41. Yes, learning French is your favourite hobby. And since now everyone has a smartphone in their hand 24 hours a day, use apps to learn vocabulary, phrases and other things related to the French language. These apps use the spaced repetition system, which provides more effective vocabulary learning..
42. Use Skype or any other videoconferencing software to have conversations with French speakers. Find (through social media) partners to exchange via Skype in French. The ideal is to find one or more French native speakers. But why not chat with someone whose mother tongue is far from yours so that French really becomes the language of communication. You can also call on French teachers who offer French courses for a small fee.
43. Finally, I hope you have other hobbies than just learning French. Do you like gardening, DIY, a special sport? So, at home, quietly, keep looking at your other hobbies, but in French. Read magazines, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, participate in Facebook groups, provided they are French magazines, podcasts and videos in French, French-speaking groups.
In the evening before falling asleep
Such a day, entirely in French, is undoubtedly tiring. But beware, perseverance is the key to success. So even when you go to bed, live this moment in French
44. Take five minutes to tell yourself about your day in French. First, you can review the times of the past. Secondly, if you have followed most of the tips in this article, you’ll find that immersion at home is possible and it’s amazing how much you can do in French without putting a foot out of the door.
45. You can write a page of your diary in French. This exercise will allow you to express in French your emotions, what you have felt. It will also be the moment to evaluate the degree of your French immersion, to see what is working and what needs to be improved.
46. Finally, just before you close your eyes, read in French short texts, poems. The ideal is to find texts that you find inspiring, hoping that during your sleep, you will dream in French. That would be fantastic!
All day long
Before concluding, this day of immersion, three more things to do from morning to night.
47. Speak French to your pets. If you have any ! Whether it’s the goldfish or your cat, they’re living beings you’re talking to. Then do it in French. Your tone and intention will not change, so communication will not be too disturbed, and then they will get used to it quickly.
48. Speak French to yourself! Start a conversation with yourself. Ask yourself questions and answer them! No chance that people outside will think you’re crazy because you’ll only do it at home. If you don’t live alone, let others know and tell them it’s a very useful exercise to progress.
49. Think in French! Express in a low voice or in your head what you think. This creates a complete immersion, an inner immersion! The day you think in French without realizing it, it will be wonderful. So start now!
Immersion at home is a smart way to learn French. But be careful, you have to be consistent and above all persistent. Obviously, it would be great if you could set up these 49 tips to create immersion without leaving home. If you do, you will make huge good leaps and very quickly you will master French. If that sounds like a lot, start by choosing the tips that you think are most accessible and easy to set up, and as you go, you can add new things to your daily life, until the day you decide to leave your home to speak French in a French-speaking country.
A bientôt, Jérôme