A passionate language learner and teacher, Caroline loves to experiment with languages and share her favorite methods for self-directed learners. She acquired English and German in school, Russian on her own in Moscow and is now learning Italian with Babbel, where she works as a Course Editor in our Didactics team. Having taught French abroad for three years, she was able to put her best practices to work in Babbel’s brand new French course for advanced learners. These nine “monolingual” lessons tackle the theme of French culture through badass slang expressions as well as subtler shades of meaning… And she had quite some fun scripting it!
Have you like, many French learners, ever fantasized about discussing art like an intellectual, critiquing a film in slang with your mates or showing your distaste for something without sounding rude? Then Babbel’s new monolingual course for advanced learners course is just right for you! The focus is not on grammar, but rather on understanding the nuances of the French language, such as different tones of voice, allusions and expressions through very authentic texts and audio. All the texts as well are inspired by real-life documents you would find in France, such as movie reviews, magazine interviews, newspaper articles and WhatsApp chats, with a good balance between formal and informal real-life situations.
Babbel gets monolingual for advanced speakers
Different teaching methods have different advantages. For Babbel’s audience of self-directed adult learners, the information contained in the app must suffice. This is why we believe that beginner and intermediate learners learn better with focused explanations of grammar and translations of new vocabulary in their own language. Babbel learners who have progressed to a more advanced level, however, definitely still benefit from “immersion” in the foreign language, without referring back to their mother-tongue. As I started at Babbel, the English team was already working on their first monolingual course, exactly when we were defining the concept of our first French advanced course, so we jumped in!
Does “immersion” sounds scary? In my experience learning Russian, this is how foreigners can quickly learn a language on the spot. In this course, the vocabulary is always taught in context, as it would be if you overheard a conversation in a French café, for instance. Doing so, those words and expressions are more understandable, easier to apply in real life situations, and more fun to learn. With the advantage that, after concentrating to understand a French audio or written comprehension, everything is explained, repeated and practiced in detail. While our courses for beginners and intermediate learners give instructions and tips in the learner’s native language, this new course provides this in simple French, adapted to the level.
After scripting, I had my colleagues from other language teams test it out, many of whom were exactly the advanced French learners this course is designed for. We also got a variety of speakers (including me and our colleagues from the customer service) to speak as they would do with friends, even if the diction is not completely neat, as you would hear in real life. A few sentences were recorded by a native French Canadian colleague as an introduction to complete different accent.
Talk rude as native speakers do
“J’ai flippé” (I freaked out), “un truc de malade“ (completely crazy), “nickel” (slang for “perfect”)… slang expressions and familiar pronunciation are rarely taught in French classes but are in fact very common and most needed to understand most native speakers in any informal situation. Many of my foreign friendswho can speak perfect academic French struggle to understand very basic discussions conducted in slang. That’s why I made sure to include some commonly-used slang expressions throughout the course and explained in which contexts to use them.
A peek at France’s vibrant cultural life
For a first dive into monolingual learning, the theme had to be appealing. Through those nine lessons on the theme of culture, you will follow a guided tour in a museum, a theatre rehearsal, listen to a cultural radio show, and read an interview with a movie director. Basically this course gives you the tools not only to understand a radio program or TV show, but also discuss your own taste and even say you find something crappy without sounding rude! While scripting, I simply got inspired by all sorts of formal and informal artistic critics you can hear in France and had fun making realistic parodies of clumsy French comedies and intellectual articles.
I believe this theme is useful for the many cultural tourists visiting Parisian museums, going to famous theatre festivals such as Avignon, as well as for the many foreigners living in a French speaking country who wants to enjoy more of the artistic scene and engage in a conversation with locals after a trip to the movies!