Forum Rocket French Conversation in French I need a blunt opinion on the importance of emersion

I need a blunt opinion on the importance of emersion


So here  is my problem - I am getting to the end of Level 1 and absolutely hitting the wall in terms of conversation at any level. I am learning a multitude of words and phrases, but there now appears to be four ways to ask a question (and the flash cards, etc. need to give one a hint so you even come close to what is the intended answer) and do you use Formal, Informal or now - Colloquial language. More importantly, while the offered scenarios are interesting and cover a good number of situations, there is no way conversation in the real world is going to follow a script. I did italki for one session with a professional out of France and, as i suspected, a complete disaster in terms of a conversation as I had understanding issues and was introduced to new verbs that left me clueless and this was basic like where do you live, are you retired, what company do you work for and for how long, etc. Anyway, and I am not trying to be overly negative or expect diplomatic level french by 2020, but what is the experience people have had with an emersion approach (and yes I understand it will cost some bucks and involve major time) as I am beginning to think that this is the only way to make all this course work truly relevant and useful - and maybe starting over at a Dick and Jane (for those of you who remember that series in school). Any input is greatly appreciated!


Salut PaulG63 !

Immersion is an immensely useful tool for any language learner, but (speaking from my own experience) it is also like diving in at the deep end: if you don't have a firm handle on the basics when you do it, it can be quite overwhelming. My recommendation would be to try immersion, certainly (it is an excellent experience!), but to make sure you've got a good grasp of the basics before you do so.

The way to do this is simply to practice - and practice, and practice. If you're nearing the end of Level 1 (which is great work, by the way!), then I'd suggest going back and revisiting those parts that you don't quite feel that you have down yet - you may well find them easier to grasp the second time around (and the forum is always here if they're not!). Also be sure to memorize survival phrases like "Speak more slowly, please" and "One moment, please, I don't understand you" so that you can bring conversations down to a more acceptable speed. Another important step is to try to internalize the idea that you are going to make mistakes, and that's okay. Speaking anyway, as much as possible, will be what helps you to improve the fastest.

Any conversation you have isn't going to go exactly the same way as the scripted conversations that you can practice with in the course, but practicing with them, particularly with tools such as PlayIt!, can still really help get you prepared. Listen to the native speakers closely, and replicate them as much as you can. Then, when you've got the scripted parts down, try introducing variations in the sentences - instead of answering with what Paul wants to drink, for instance, try answering with what you want to drink.

Next, test out the waters with a native speaker again. There will be vocabulary that you don't know, and you won't be able to communicate in French the way that you can in English, but that's absolutely normal. When you're conversing, instead of translating what you'd like to say in English into French, try to speak using the French that you have. This may mean that instead of saying "I would love to visit Thailand one day," you'll say "I want to go to Thailand" - and that's just fine. Often, for people starting out with a new language, it's the frustration of trying to speak at the same level as their native language that can prove to be the most discouraging factor. Avoiding translating inside your head can be an excellent way around this problem.

Another, related piece of advice I might give in closing is that if you're not yet ready or able to dive in to full immersion in a French-speaking country, you can still immerse yourself in French to some degree from home. Listening to French radio, watching French movies, reading French papers, and following French social media accounts can help keep your brain in French mode, and also teach you common turns of phrase and sentences structures. So you can have a bit of mini immersion to help you prepare for the real thing.

I hope that this advice is helpful! Do let me know if you have any other questions.

À la prochaine,



This is most helpful - merci beaucoup. I think what attracts me to the immersion piece is the repetition and real time correction (and my plan is to do the immersion from home multiple times a week until I feel up to a trip). To your point, I have been trying to focus on the main verbs, survival phrases and so on. Again, I appreciate your perspective and your point on avoiding the direct translation in my head is spot on - what a speed bump that is. I need to just learn the french for what it is and in the context of french. I will check back in in 3 months or so to let you know how things played out. 


De rien, PaulG63 ! I look forward to hearing how everything goes in the coming months!

Bon courage !


Ask a question or a post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here .
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket French trial here .