So, I’ve been in the process of learning French since I was a freshman in high school so that’s about 8 years total. I’ve only spent a semester abroad and it can be tricky when you go abroad and realize how much vocabulary you’ve lost for example. So I’m spilling my best secrets of how I keep up on French while living in the US.
Listening- Probably the easiest to keep up is listening comprehension
First, find things that you like in French! There are as many genres in English music as there are French, I promise. I’ve found I like contemporary French, rap, indie, and even Ye-Ye 60’s pop and French Musicals.
There is a ton of music on Spotify to discover! I’d recommend looking at Spotify France, the French playlists on the regular Spotify account and Top Tracks in France.
There’s even a language learning playlist and poetry and literature under ‘Word’ in the categories under discover. There are some foreign language playlists under ‘Travel.
Really you just have to be open to explore, search artists and playlists and look up related artists to find more.
I have a whole folder full of public French playlists on Spotify! You can follow me here: https://play.spotify.com/user/1213174153
Another one of my favorite parts of language learning that helps listening comprehension is films. First you can find a plethora on Netflix and even more if you get the physical copies. However, for the streaming version all you have to do is search for ‘French Movies’ and you’ll find quite a few. Note that Hulu also has a handful if you have a subscription.
However there’s an even better trick, on some Netflix movies and series you can change the audio to French audio and subtitles to either English or French! I didn’t know this till that long ago. It’s sometimes useful to watch and listen to a movie if it’s something you’re already familiar with.
So yes you can watch Orange is the New Black in just about any language.
Another one of my old tricks is to look at the backs of your favorite DVD’s and see if French Audio is available and more often then not it is.
I also like to sometimes listen to news and current events in French so for that I’d recommend listening to France Inter
Reading and Writing- Writing can be difficult, for me that including grammar was the most difficult to keep up because it’s hard to be motivated if you’re not in a foreign language course focused on writing
First if you haven’t heard of Duolingo it’s an app and website I’d suggest trying it out! It’s non-committal and can be fun. It’s something you can do on your computer as well as on your phone. It’s good for keeping up vocab, writing, and speaking as well as getting comfortable about switching back and forth with English and French.
I would suggest spending a few minutes a day reading news in French. Find the news site you prefer like Le Monde, Le Figaro, Liberation etc. I’d also recommend liking them on Facebook so you have some French to read when you’re scrolling through social media. I’ve also went ahead and switched my language on my devices and on Facebook to French!
Use your public library or university library to get French books! My university library had a pretty good selection but if I wanted more I could use inter-library loan to borrow books from any school in Michigan for free.
If you want to work on grammar and writing it’s a good idea to write summaries of what you’ve read in French in a newspaper, a magazine or book. Then go over and correct it on Bon Patron or get a friend to.
Another good tip is to keep up with the vocabulary that you get from your reading sources in French. Keep a list going, write down definitions and make physical flashcards or make a set on Quizlet for practice on the go.
There’s also a Google Chrome extension that will translate a certain percentage of words into a different language- it’s more immersion and you won’t even think anything is different. It’s called Mind the Word.
Speaking- Maybe the trickiest, as in the American Midwest there aren’t too many French speakers
This is the trickiest, as not everyone can just jet off to the nearest French-speaking community on a whim. I’d suggest finding a local conversation circle in your area or getting involved with the local Alliance Francaise.
There are also a handful of websites online where you can find people to practice speaking with. There are quite a few including applications so it’s up to you to find what kind of language community you’d like to be involved in. For example: LingoGlobe, Coeffee, Coffee Starp, Verbling, busuu and more!
Those are some of my best tips so I hope you found them helpful in whatever language you decide to pursue! Best of luck and if you have any questions for me you can always leave a comment.