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Old 17.03.2015, 12:15
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French in the workplace

I am a native English speaker and have been living in the french-speaking part of Switzerland for about a year. I have been offered a job that would require me to speak/read French pretty regularly (though not exclusively). I work in public relations/communications, and until now, have worked in an entirely english-speaking office.

My French is only just 'good enough to get by,' and I have been offered this job on the condition that I improve my French rapidly during the 3 month trial period. I would of course work as hard as I can to reach the necessary language standard...but I am not sure I can do it!

Has anyone else had had a similar experience? How can I significantly improve my French in a really short time period, while working full-time?
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Old 17.03.2015, 12:27
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Re: French in the workplace

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I am a native English speaker and have been living in the french-speaking part of Switzerland for about a year. I have been offered a job that would require me to speak/read French pretty regularly (though not exclusively). I work in public relations/communications, and until now, have worked in an entirely english-speaking office.

My French is only just 'good enough to get by,' and I have been offered this job on the condition that I improve my French rapidly during the 3 month trial period. I would of course work as hard as I can to reach the necessary language standard...but I am not sure I can do it!

Has anyone else had had a similar experience? How can I significantly improve my French in a really short time period, while working full-time?
Mine improved fairly rapidly. Being exposed to the language 8+ hours a day certainly helps, especially when you can't just fall back to speaking English. My accent still leaves a lot to be desired though Reading French novels, watching French TV all helps. Lessons are good...
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Old 17.03.2015, 12:53
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Re: French in the workplace

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How can I significantly improve my French in a really short time period, while working full-time?
Get a French-only speaking girlfriend.

Tom
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Old 17.03.2015, 13:32
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Re: French in the workplace

Full and total immersion is the best way- with some private intensive tuition. Where about are you in Vaud? Do you have a car? Which months will be your trial period?
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Old 17.03.2015, 13:38
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Re: French in the workplace

i took a few classes when i first arrived- it helped but once i went to work and spoke french all day as well as having a tandem- that's when i really became comfortable and much better speaking french. and what tom said
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Old 17.03.2015, 14:11
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Re: French in the workplace

I was in a similar situation and although everyone could speak English to me at the work place, it was completely different (for the better) once I started really conversing in French all day for work. Much easier to work and negotiate with coworkers in their native tongue. For me, what helped was getting a private tutor to improve and just to get over my shy hurdle becoming comfortable with my own accent Good luck, its doable!
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Old 17.03.2015, 14:15
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Re: French in the workplace

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Get a French-only speaking girlfriend.

Tom
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Full and total immersion is the best way- with some private intensive tuition......
Humm, does what Tom recommends count as what Odile said?!!!!

Seriously, the others are right, the best way is to put yourself in situations where you're exposed to french a lot.

I spent hours on trams in the early days just eavesdropping on other peoples conversation, that way I was under no pressure to respond and could simply concentrate on what was being said.... it's amazing what people chat about in public!
The TV's another good one, especially if it's something you've already seen so don't need to struggle with working out the plot.

Good luck!

A
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Old 17.03.2015, 14:17
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Re: French in the workplace

I would treat any employer with such demands with a barrel of salt. Is he paying anything for tuition fees or just demanding that you pick it up on your own?

If that's your first experience of him/her, what else could he reasonably demand of you in the future?

If impression was good but it's really an all-french environment then do as the posters above already mentioned.
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Old 17.03.2015, 14:59
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Re: French in the workplace

Once you realise most of the people you're speaking to are Italian, Portuguese, Spanish etc, you understand your accent is not necessarily the problem & gain more confidence.
I listened to my MIL yabbering on. I rarely knew if she was speaking to me or the cat until she asked if I wanted a coffee 'cos the cat didn't drink coffee.
Then I got told off a few times at the creche when I took my kids as it would appear MIL had a lot of rather fruity language that I didn't realise were not polite words.
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Old 17.03.2015, 15:37
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Re: French in the workplace

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My French is only just 'good enough to get by,' and I have been offered this job on the condition that I improve my French rapidly during the 3 month trial period. I would of course work as hard as I can to reach the necessary language standard...but I am not sure I can do it!

Has anyone else had had a similar experience? How can I significantly improve my French in a really short time period, while working full-time?
Write down 10-20 unknown words you encounter during the day (and got explained in french, do not have them translated to deepen immersion), and learn them. You'll expand your vocabulary in no time.

To avoid misunderstandings it would be a good idea to formalize the level you are expected to reach within those 3 months, and what (if any) support you get from your prospective employer. Plus, what progress would be expected further down the road.
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Old 17.03.2015, 16:00
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Re: French in the workplace

This is a big ask -- I encountered the same challenge when I moved to Paris and it is tough. Life is somewhat easier if you will only be speaking and reading (but not writing) in French, as you can get away with learning fewer of the more complicated grammar rules that make French tricky.

I found that Pimsleur was a valuable way to learn spoken French, and their 90-day course maps perfectly to your timetable. Pimsleur was excellent for building up a core of 1000-1200 words that are most frequently used in the language. It leaves you able to speak easily, but with a very restricted vocabulary.

The second part of the challenge is to build a wider vocabulary, and here is where exposure to native speakers and materials is imperative. Start by reading the news in English, then read it again in a French newspaper. Listen to the morning shows on the radio. Watch French news (as you know the context, you'll make the connections with the vocabulary.

Make a cheat sheet of words that are the same in English -- almost anything that ends in -ion, for example, is the same in French.

Good luck! Bonne chance! (Merde! )
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Old 17.03.2015, 16:51
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Re: French in the workplace

If you are at only an A1 level and you only have three months to improve while still working full time, you have your work cut out for you, my friend.

Do you know any verbs at all or are you still at the "nouns only" phase? If you are getting by with nouns and alot of pointing, no amount of immersion is going to help in a significant way. If you don't understand any verbs, pronouns or prepositions, watching TV and listening to the radio in French is not going to miraculously bump you up to a B level.

If, however, you have a basic knowledge of grammar already, then total immersion is the way to go. Switch your phone over to French. Write all of your emails and texts in French. Listen only to TV and the radio in French. Speak only in French at work and explain to your colleagues that they need to speak French to you and not English. Read 20minutes every day and look up the words you don't know that night in the dictionary.
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Old 19.03.2015, 01:12
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Re: French in the workplace

When I was 15/16, I spent a year at a French school, with no prior knowledge (though I ahd studied Spanish.

After 9 months, I was almost at a normal level (and top of the class in math , technologie, and English).

However, I was also required to take French classes in the two classes lower than mine as well.

I was able to pass the BEPC at the end, first round.

But again, this was nine months of school, fully immersed, and I was young.

Three months? Not much chance.

As an adult, even with my Italian-only speaking girlfriend/wife, it took several years to go from crap to semi/fluent.

Tom
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Old 19.03.2015, 08:27
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Re: French in the workplace

Would you have to leave your current job in order to take this new one? If you're not currently working, you should just go for it anyway. If you make the conscious effort to use French as much as possible and all your colleagues are speaking French, you'll be fine. When I had my interview, they wanted someone who was fluent in French and German (native in one, fluent in the other). Being a native English speaker really wasn't a bonus at all. My French is very good bu my German was pitiful. I had to speak a bit in the interview then, before I started, I took 10 hours of private classes and when I got there, I threw myself into the German as much as possible (I was expected to take phone calls). The language everyone speaks at work is French so you have that advantage too. The key is to not be afraid of sounding like an idiot because as soon as you start to hold back, your progress slows right down.
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Old 19.03.2015, 10:00
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Re: French in the workplace

As Kamarate says- if you go for as full immersion as possible, avoid English speakers, films, TV, etc- you brain will hurt, but it will happen very quickly. You may not get some sophisticated points of grammar- and anyhow I would always advise finding good strategies to avoid most of them by using a different formula that circumvents it- especially in the initial stages (to avoid the subjunctive and the future tense, which are both difficult), etc.
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Old 19.03.2015, 11:05
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Re: French in the workplace

Full immersion is the only way to rapidly improve your French but honestly it takes years to get to a good level unless you are super smart. I would also recommend private lessons on the side for structured learning. French is a very structured language and you need to learn about grammar in order to make decent sentences. Bonne chance.
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