The first thing that struck me about the C1 level at the Easy French Language School was the increase in pace. Because you’re reading comprehension is at a higher standard now you are expected to be able to pick up most texts and gain a fair bit of understanding about what the subject is concerning. For my first couple of days on the C1 intensive French course for adults I was approaching this in an inefficient way. In my head, I it was necessary to understand exactly what the text was about before being able to move forward, this lead to me stopping every time I came to a phrase or word I didn’t understand and furiously thumbing through my dictionary or typing into my translation app.
As you can probably guess, I wasn’t able to keep up doing this. Although what I was reading I was understanding more clearly, I wasn’t able to get far enough through the text before we either began working on the exercises for it or we moved on to the next section. Also, I found that I was getting in my own way a bit here as I would be a bit behind the rest of the students in my French immersion class and feeling like I was slipping behind made me a little bit more stressed. So, I was looking at the others happily getting on with their work and worrying about my inability to understand and this was slowing me down even more.
A Change of Tactic to Speed Up my French Comprehension
It was time for a change of tactic within my French studies at the Easy French Language School in France. I decided to try not to get hung up on each proposition I didn’t understand and move through the text picking up what I could and try to create a broad picture of what it was concerning, then I would add the definition as we went along. When we got a text, I would scan through and highlight whatever words or phrases I didn’t understand. If there was a noun that I didn’t know rather than look it up I would highlight it and then proceed just keeping in my head that word and as a vague ‘thing’ and that made it easier to digest the phrases connected to it. Ambiguity is your friend when you are learning French in France I think. So, for example if a text had the noun ‘rêve’ (dream) and I didn’t know it (I do know it and do it too much in class) I would just keep in mind there is this undefined thing. Then as the text continued and sit aid stuff like ‘we do it while we sleep’ or ‘it can be used to describe a desire for the future’ etc. I could start to tighten the net on the meaning. This is a very simple example of course but you can do exactly the same for verbs, connectors and long propositions with a slight tweak in strategy. You will also hear things said by the other students in your intensive French class in Montpellier and your professor that will add even further context and information. You can do this for multiple ‘things’ at once by just think about how the ‘things’ interact: is one acting on another? Are both being acted on by the subject? Etc.
I have found this really improves my speed at comprehension and even if by the end of it you have blind spots normally just asking the professor of your French immersion course a question or two will shift a whole chunk of obscurity. This has worked for me loads since I have been learning French at C1 at the EasyFrench Immersion School in Montpellier but things might work differently for you so just try and feel it out and try out a few strategies.