A lot of English speaking persons keep telling me that, even after years of practice of French language, they are still experiencing difficulties in understanding French people speaking in the streets.
Why is that? The main cause lies in the fact that you have been learning formal French in your books. While you may be able to master pronounciation and oral expressions, the French you are hearing in the streets is very different, because a lot of vowels or words are swallowed. Here are a few examples:
You learnt to say ‘Je suis content’ for ‘ I am happy’, but most French people speak it out like that in informal French: ‘Chuis content’…what you actually hear is ‘Chuis content’ and your ear is probably unable to link both expressions together, because it is spoken out very fast, most of the time.
In the same way, you are probably used to ‘ne…pas’ to express the negation. Well, most French people will drop the ‘ne’ in informal French and keep the ‘pas’:
formal French: Je n’aime pas le cinéma
informal French: J’aime pas le cinéma
A lot of expressions are often compacted:
- Je t’ apporte ça tout de suite= “Chtapporte ça toutsuit’…”
Then you have some slangs and idiomatic expressions that come into play.
What can you do to improve your oral understanding skills?
Do not panic! Solutions exist:
- find some French speaking partners who will help you get acquainted with more informal expressions
- watch some current movies-most contemporary DVDs do have English subtitles
- watch French TV: for instance, talk shows can help you catch frequently used words and expressions
- mimick what you hear
- and, of course, feel free to ask me if you encounter any difficulty.
Je suis prête à vous aider…euh…‘chuis prête à vous aider’-‘chuis prête à vous donner un coup de main!’