2014 Fall CIEE Danielle Hagerty External Programs France

Talking the Talk

On the day I left for France, I made myself a promise; “You must fully immerse yourself in the language!” One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Paris was because I wanted to learn a new language. I knew that, in order to learn French quicker, I would need to study more than just in the classroom. I planned on speaking to my friends in French, only watching French movies, and trying to read only books in French. I wanted to surround myself as much as possible with the language in order to maximize my fluency.

It has been expectedly more difficult than I first imagined. Predictably, I rarely have a full French conversation with my friends from the program. Instead, we speak “Franglish:” mostly English sentences with French words thrown in here and there for the sake of hilarity or emphasis. My daily interactions with everyone else, however, are always completely in French. I am now one hundred percent confident with asking for directions and ordering at a restaurant without fear of not being able to understand the response. With my host mom, who knows very little English, I speak French, and she helps and corrects me if need be.

Then, there is NETFLIX. When I first tried to sign into my account after I got to France, this is what I saw:

However, about a week after arrival, a friend noticed in an advertisement that Netflix would be arriving in France on September 12. Needless to say, we were all thrilled. I had been watching French films on Netflix before my trip. There are plenty of French movies on Netflix, and I watch them when I clean my room or when I’m in for the night. I’ve found that I have gained a better comprehension of proper pronunciation and colloquial French because I have chosen to watch films such as Elles and Renoir instead of New Girl. I have a couple of favorites which can be found on Netflix, all of which are worth watching even if you’re not a French speaker:


Intouchables- this is an INCREDIBLE film about a disabled man who befriends a man from the slums (it was especially touching for me because one of my best friends is a wheelchair user).

un hu

Un Heureux Événement- This film is about a couple who decides to have a baby, but then realizes that raising a child is much more difficult than they had initially planned.


Populaire- This movie is set in the late 50’s and is about a typist who becomes a celebrity through winning typing competitions.

In the midst of everything else I’m doing here in Paris, there are some other ways I’m managing to fit in extra French lessons:

French Radio: This is a French radio app that you can download on your smartphone that allows you to listen to virtually any French radio station. My choice: France Info.

Duolingo: This is also an app that teaches you French through grammar, conversation, and spelling games.

French Newspapers: There are numerous newspapers that can be found in metro stations, such as Direct Matin. I sometimes grab one on my way to class and attempt to read it on the train.

Overall, I am very proud of the effort that I’ve put forth to further myself towards fluency. I feel as if I’ve improved my reading and comprehension immensely, not just through my classes but also through my independent efforts.

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