Secret to enjoying reading in French

Karyn Fletcher wins the Connexion letter of the month for February 2018 and a copy of our Puzzle Book.

In response to your question about reading in French... I am an avid reader in French and enjoy a French novel as much as one in English.

Picking something you are interested in is number one. Also a book you already know in English is a good idea.
I decided to begin with a 19th-century classic, in my case Zola, because they are free of colloquial terms that often pepper contemporary fiction.

Once you read one Zola, and there are many, the language is classic and the same, the only changes will be a sheaf of particular terminology to do with the subject of some of a particular volume, like the mining world in Germinal or trains in La Bête Humaine.

Also, remember you don’t have to understand 100% of what you read to understand enough to appreciate the story. Letting go of that gets you into reading rather than reading and translating. Over time the gap of translating gets smaller as immersion in the text grows so you are more present in your reading. That made a huge difference for me.

Finally give yourself a good chunk of pages when you sit down to read because it can take a little while to flow into the language and make the mental adjustment to the French ‘voice’ of the novel.

I have gone through all 20 volumes of Zola’s series twice, plus many other writers since then, and enjoyed them both times, the second many years later when I was a much more fluent reader and they were even better.

Karyn Fletcher, Eure

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