I was in the car on the way back from a football tournament the other day. Talking to an American expat in Lyon, he was explaining how he had learnt French. One thing that he mentioned that was key to his French learning was what he called ‘filtering out’. I’ve already mentioned this before on this blog, and for me, it’s a key factor in language learning. There are just some words that some people use all the time.
The one I’ve mentioned before on this blog is ‘quoi’ – as in, “c’est comme ça, quoi!”
Don’t underestimate the importance of this – it might not be something that is very cultivated or educated – but it’s something that certain people, including educated people! use all the time in their speech. If you don’t understand it, you’re basically lost.
The other one he mentioned was the use of “en fait”. He was in Paris when he first heard this, apparently, he thought that they were saying “en fête” and that in Paris they had a lot of parties.
So, one of the first things you need to do when learning a language is filter out (faire le tri) – for this kind of thing, so that you can understand the rest.
Happy language learning!