The world is full of books, YouTube videos, etc. for people who speak English and want to start learning French. It’s harder to find materials that are suited for somewhat advanced students of the language. It turns out, however, that there are some very good resources out there, if you can find them.
One that I think is good for people at about the intermediate level is the podcast One thing in a French day. The podcast consists of a short, read essay (i.e., it was written and then read out loud, versus being spontaneous speech) about some thing or another in the podcast creator’s day. Perhaps Laetitia buys a new printer. Maybe she meets a friend at a patisserie for coffee and a pastry. Maybe one of her daughters loses her Pass Navigo. Whatever it is, Laetitia tells you about it, and Zipf’s Law strikes–you are quite likely to learn some new words in every podcast.
The podcasts are free, and a transcription of the beginning of the podcast is available on the web site, also gratis. New ones come out 2-3 times a week. For 3 euros a month, Laetitia will email you a full transcript of every podcast, along with some grammatical or vocabulary points of interest, and will answer questions.
As I said, Laetitia reads the essays, and her pronunciation is quite clear. This makes One thing in a French day quite good for intermediate students, but possibly not as challenging as it could be for advanced students. (Laetitia does point out that Il est vrai que c’est un texte lu, par contre je ne fais pas d’effort particulier pour ralentir le débit. Le rythme est mon rythme naturel. “It’s true that it’s a read text. On the other hand, I don’t make any particular effort to reduce the speed. The rhythm is my natural rhythm.”) Still, no matter what level you are at, you will learn stuff from the podcasts, and it’s nice to keep up with what’s going on with Laetitia and her family, as well as to get a little glimpse into the life of a normal French family. To give you the flavor of the podcast, here are some words that I learnt from the most recent one (definitions from WordReference.com):
- entrecoupée par: broken up by.
- ensoleillé: sunny, bathed in sunlight.
- la voie verte: I had to write to Laetitia herself for this one. Here’s her answer: Pour répondre à votre question : La voie verte est une ancienne voie de chemin de fer entre Chalon-sur-Saône et Mâcon qui a été goudronnée et qui est maintenant réservée aux piétons, aux vélos, aux fauteuils roulants ou aux rollers. Il y a plus de quarante kilomètres de promenade.
- prendre le pli: to get used to something, to get into the groove of something. Prendre le pli de faire qqch: to get into the habit of doing something.
- perché: perched, sitting on.
Nous avons fait d’autres belles visites pendant cette semaine en Bourgogne, entrecoupée par deux voyages à Lyon et de longues promenades ensoleillées sur la voie verte. Lisa est une bonne marcheuse, une fois qu’elle a pris le pli. Son record sur la voie verte : sept kilomètres.
Nous avons visité le site médiéval de Brancion. Un petit village perché sur une colline.
That’s 5 words in the first 5 sentences–as I said, you will learn stuff from One thing in a French day!