When it comes to New Year resolutions, there are two different types of people: those who make them and plan ahead of time; and those who just go with the flow. Last week I sent a text message to our members asking what type of people they are and 61% said they were part of the latter.

I myself fall into the first category. I even bought a new notebook to write down my resolutions to keep me on track. This helps me create better habits and learn whatever new skill I decide to acquire. This is how I keep improving my French, running longer distances, eating healthier, and living more in the present.

But no matter which group you’re a part of, I am sharing some tips on how to improve your French skills in 2023.

Set SMART Goals

SMART stands for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based”. This is important so as not to get lost in your goals and end the year feeling overwhelmed, guilty, and not sure if you’re getting closer to achieving them.

Let's say your goal is to improve your French. How do you know if you’re getting closer to it or not? When is your deadline for this to happen? If we’re too general, we’ll find it more difficult to follow through.

The perfect example of a SMART goal would be “I want to go from B1 to B2 level of French by the end of the year”.

You set a time frame for when you want to see this improvement (by the end of the year). You can easily measure it by moving one level up (B1 to B2). It’s attainable because you didn’t say “I’m on A1 level and I want to become fluent in 6 months”. Small consistent steps count more than one big step that may lead you to fail.

Keep your goals visible to you at all times. That could mean writing them down in a notebook, on your phone, or on a post-it note at your office and checking it frequently so you won’t forget about it. On top of it, you can also talk to someone you trust about it.

Tips to accomplish your French goals

You love French, but can’t say more than “Bonjour”. Sign up for our “Absolute beginner” class and learn how to ask for and give directions, understand an itinerary, get around using public transportation, and much more!

You want to practice French conversation. Come to our monthly in-person conversation club and talk with other people like you. You don’t need to have perfect French. Over here, we all help each other out, like how to pronounce “charcuterie” or to discuss the correct way to conjugate the subjunctive of “être”. We all make mistakes and it’s fun to do it together!

You want to write more in French. If you’re too shy to write to other people, you can start practicing it with a dictée. Another way can be writing in a journal about how your day went. This way you’ll use more daily vocabulary. It’s easier to feel more confident writing to others. If you’re feeling brave and don’t mind making mistakes, try writing to us or to a friend in French.

You want to sharpen your listening skills. My favorite way of improving vocabulary, pronunciation and listening skills is through music. Before learning French, I was already able to sing Carla Bruni’s hit “Quelqu'un m'a dit” and I learned some words from the lyrics. But if your French is good enough to understand a whole conversation, Radio France is a great way to know what is going on in the world!

You want to learn more about French culture. No matter if you’re fluent or if you’re still learning French, people love French culture. Why not attend our Cultural events? We have different topics and I’m sure one of those will help you feel like you’re in France, or deepen your understanding of what goes on on the other side of the Atlantic.

You want to read more books in French. This is definitely part of my goals, and I want to read at least one French book per month. Our librarian is amazing in helping us find the best ones based on our preferences. A great way to follow your progress is by making a list of the books you read. I use Goodreads and it helps me see my progress.

Which one of those is part of your resolutions? Do you have another way of following up with your goals? Leave a comment here or write us and tell us more about it. Why don’t you start challenging yourself and write it in French?

Bruna Franco

Membership Manager

Bruna first joined the Center as a member, looking for an opportunity to practice French and to be around French culture. She is now thrilled to be the Membership Manager and to provide members with the amazing experience she was previously able to enjoy herself. She is a native Portuguese speaker who, by the age of eight, knew she wanted to be multilingual someday. Working at the French Library now seems like a dream come true.

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Upcoming Events

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French painting of the 19th century: opening up to the world

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Master class on Géricault, Delacroix, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec: four chronological sessions and one Harvard Museum visit to better understand 19th century French painting.

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Monday, February 13, 2023 9:00 AM To 10:00 AM

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