By practicing with French conversation samples, you can improve your written or spoken French. Depending on your unique learning style, you may use practice dialogues, written conversations, movies or recordings to practice both listening comprehension and speaking skills.
Where to Find French Conversation Samples
Whether you or your students are beginning, intermediate or advanced speakers of French, reading, listening and practicing French conversation samples ensures improved speaking and comprehension. Students can practice basic French words, vocabulary, French sayings and more.
One of the best ways to read conversation samples is in books. Although you can find books entirely written in French, having a side-by-side translation, with one page in French and the other in English, provides an excellent model of conversation.
Dover Publications offers several dual-language books, including volumes of French short stories and poetry. These inexpensive paperback books provide the French and the English translation. The short story book features numerous examples of French conversations within the text.
A free resource available through Project Gutenberg is the free PDF book, "French Conversation and Composition", by Harry Vincent Wann. Download the complete book on their website.
Some examples can also be found online. Syvum provides free online French lessons, and this quiz, focused on conversation around meals, can help beginners practice French.
Listen and Enjoy French Conversations
Thanks to the power of movies, radio, and the Internet, you can listen and enjoy free French conversation samples.
- Movies: You can often catch French films on your local public broadcasting station. Turner Classic Movies (TCM), available through satellite television, also runs French films occasionally. Look for such award-winning classics as Gervaise, the 1956 heart-rending saga of 19th century peasant life. This movie will give you excellent practice listening to French conversations, especially since many of the characters are drunk in certain scenes and slur their French. If you can translate this, you can translate anything. Other wonderful movies include La Belle et La Bête or Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau.
- Radio and Internet: You can listen live to free, streaming radio, directly from France via the Internet. Listen Live provides access to dozens of French language radio stations. While some play music, you can also find conversation samples.
French Conversation Prompts
If this isn't enough to get you started, try some of the following conversation prompts and examples. Teachers may use these prompts at the start of class as a warm-up exercise or as additional practice during class.
Beginner Conversation Prompts
Beginning students often need to repeat the question as a statement, and practice basic vocabulary. Two ideas to help beginners practice their French conversation are the "Going Home Sick" prompt and the "Ordering in a Restaurant" prompt.
- Going home sick prompt: Have two students pretend to meet in the hallway. One student asks the other how he feels. The second student is ill and must go home. Students will practice:
- Basic greetings
- Parts of the body
- Names of professions, such as nurse, teacher, etc.
Start your students off with the following:"Bonjour, Michael."
"Bonjour, Kevin.""Comment ça va?"
"Ca va bien. Et toi?""Non. Je me sens malade."
Students can complete the conversation with description of what hurts, who is giving permission for them to go home, and good wishes to get better soon.
- Ordering in a restaurant prompt: Have a group of students pretend to sit at a restaurant table. One student can play the server. Students will practice:
- Basic greetings
- Food names, descriptions
- Conversation and polite phrases
The server can start with the following prompt, including his or her name instead of Christine: "Bon soir. Je m'appelle Christine. Je suis votre serveuse."
Intermediate and Advanced Conversation Prompts
A prompt for more advanced students is a conversation started called "The Hotel Problem." Ask students to pretend to be hotel employees and guests. The guest needs to complain about a leak in the bathroom or another problem. Students practice:
- Basic greetings and polite phrases
- Names for objects in a room, such as a bed, table, chair, sink, bathtub, etc
- Explaining a complex problem.
A starting prompt may be the hotel employee asking, "Comment est-ce que je peux vous aider?" or "How may I help you?"
Whatever your level of French, by practicing reading, writing, listening and speaking in a conversational mode, you'll improve your French dramatically. Conversation not only helps you practice vocabulary and grammar, you'll also begin to think in French, a true sign that you are becoming fluent in the language.