The practical way to improve your frenchv

Don’t know where to start with VCE French or other languages? Struggling to balance your listening comprehension with reading comprehension practice as well as essay writing? Well, don’t worry. I had the same problem with VCE French last year…before I got organized that is. Here is how to get through it all without compromising study time for your other subjects but still being thorough.

What I found worked well for me was to complete my vocab work and essay writing after school, reading comprehension in class and any extra reading or problems from class go over at home - leave listening comprehension until bed time. Furthermore, it’s really good practice to have general conversations with your French classmates for 5 minutes once a day. I found this made me become a lot more comfortable with speaking spontaneously as well as improved my fluency.

Reading Comprehension Let’s start off with reading comprehension. At my school, we usually did the majority of our reading comprehension in class. As we read through, I would highlight words I didn’t know, look them up for homework, add them to my vocab list and then read over the piece again with a hopefully improved understanding of the content.

Essay Writing Secondly, essay writing started off as a very tedious activity for me. It took a couple of hours for each essay. However, as you get the hang of different expressions, structures and styles, the task becomes much quicker. Therefore I kept a writing structure book in which I had one page on every style and one on each text type. For example; text types: diary entry, speech, letter, email, article/report, etc. styles: persuasive, informative, personal, formal, etc. I used this book to learn each text-type and style off by heart in order to apply them in my essays.

In addition, the vocabulary you have been writing down from the class reading comprehension, or class articles will come in handy right about now. Generally, you will have to write an essay for a SAC on a topic you have been discussing in class. Therefore, use the resources you have been given! Don’t start looking up new complicated words; it’s a waste of your time. Make a list of about 5-10 phrases or expressions for each sub-topic of your main topic. Attempt to learn these off by heart so that you will be able to slide them into any essay thrown at you – on that topic of course. For example, if your topic is the environment, learn key words such as; rubbish, bins, global warming, greenhouse effect, pollution, etc. and then write a list of expressions that describe what type of pollution exists, another on the detrimental effects it could have on our planet and finally proposed solutions and how we can help. This way, you will be fully prepared for any essay question.

Listening Comprehension Lastly, listening comprehension is a good one to leave for bed. I found that it was important to do this daily in order to become more used to the language and the speed of the tapes. Even if you do 10 minutes each night of listening to the French news on the internet before bed, it will make a big difference. Don’t freak out if you don’t understand it all, just try and get the general idea of what they’re talking about and pick up on words here and there. This will also improve your accent and fluency. As it gets closer to your listening comprehension SAC, it may be a good idea to ask you teacher for an extra tape with questions so that you can practice the skill of reading the questions, listening for these specific answers and taking notes as you listen.

In the end, it is a language so you will need to revise and study your notes (grammar, vocab, reading, etc.) frequently – possibly more than other subjects. Still, don’t get bogged down with the little things! Good luck!

Lauren completed her VCE in 2008. She is deferring from Physiotherapy at La Trobe University, Bundoora for the year in order to work for 6 months before travelling overseas.

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