Street french vs formal french

this has been a problem for me for a long time i studied french a while back but never hada chance to speak it properly .anybody know any resources that concentrates on how the language is actually spoken by french people in their daily lives for some reason schools and audio courses , teach you only a very formal language
and then when you hear french people speak among themselves or try to watch a movie you are lost because of the contractions

Maybe you can take italki lessons? I’ve been thinking of doing the same for Russian. It might work.

Oh, and the reason courses teach formal language is probably that many use those courses for business purposes and if they were to teach, say, Russian as spoken by some Ukrainian population you would have ended up sounding uneducated and you would also have difficulty understanding formal Russian. Not to mention you would sound rude if you didn’t use the ti/vi distinction. It’s just the price of language learning to have to learn different registers. Not all of them need to be learned though. You would never catch me speaking ghetto English.

I’ve also come to the realization lately that different registers can be very different indeed and it may not be feasible to learn to understand everything spoken by any random person you would come across. Maybe one shouldn’t have too high expectations in this regard? It’s what I’ve been thinking anyway, and the example of “ghetto English” clearly illustrates the need to lower ones expectations to me because I honestly can’t understand african Americans when they speak their dialects just as I have difficulty understanding many English (the country) dialects.

This is true in every language and has been Excuse #1 for giving up on language studies by the unmotivated.

Learning “street” speech in any language may be a long term goal, but it is NOT A PRIMARY GOAL of your studies.

No one will refuse to talk to you simply because you use polite / formal language. People who use everyday colloquial speech patterns, can easily adjust their speech to talk to you in a more “proper” register once they know that’s where you’re comfortable at. And most of media, politics, and written materials – which will be your primary interfaces with being exposed to a language, will be in a more proper register as well.

Looking at “street speech” when you first start out is like looking at Mount Everest when your friend ask you to go to a climbing gym with him. Climbing gyms are a lot of fun, so don’t worry about the mountain.

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“and then when you hear french people speak among themselves…”

That is what you need doing, time and time again. You have cable television, you have You Tube and there’s everything.


I completely agree with Etudiant1. Just keep at it. Switch between talk shows, news, youtube videos, raps songs etc.

Perhaps two additional tips:

  1. There is plenty of material out there explaining french slang. For example:
  1. If you come across french speakers, ask them to teach you some of the slang/informal french phrases. In my experience, this always leads to a fun exchange :slight_smile: