I understand French, but I can't speak it.

The words are in my head, but they don't come out of my mouth.

Have you ever felt this way too?

Today, I'm going to help you better understand why you understand French but can't speak it and of course, give you some tips to help you express yourself naturally in French.


Listening, without practicing:

The first thing that's holding you back is this idea that you can simply absorb the language, like a sponge, without ever needing to actively use it.

You're only focused on receiving the language. You listen to French songs, watch videos in French, read books, and all of this helps you understand the language. But there's one crucial element missing: practice.

You know, it's like going to the gym and watching others workout without ever lifting a weight. You're sure to understand how the machines work, but you're never going to develop your muscles.

It's the same principle for language learning! You need to put into practice your new skills fairly quickly. And not just receiving these new skills.

And I know you may think: "But I don't have anyone to speak French with!" "I don't live in France." "I don't have opportunities to speak French."

But, you can practice without that, don't worry. A great way to practice French, for example, is shadowing.

This involves listening to French content and directly imitating the speaker to better assimilate pronunciation and sentence structures. I strongly advise all people learning French to do shadowing exercises in French.

Another way to practice your French orally without leaving home is to take private French courses online with a native teacher or to join a conversation group.

For example, in my French conversation group, Ohlala French Coffee, you can practice your French 7 times a week. It's a very friendly group, kind and it's made especially to help you express yourself naturally and confidently in French


The obsession with mistakes:

Another common obstacle that prevents you from speaking French is the fear of making mistakes.

We always want to speak perfectly and we're so obsessed with the idea of not making mistakes that it blocks us.

But you know what? Mistakes are an integral part of learning. They are inevitable and necessary for progress.

Yes, it's good to want to avoid making mistakes, to have correct grammar. I understand you, I also want the same thing. But on the other hand, it should not prevent you from speaking, it should not block you. Mistakes should not stop you from trying to practice French, they should instead encourage you to continue.

Otherwise, you will enter a vicious cycle. You need to practice to improve your French, but you are afraid of making mistakes, so you will not practice. But, without practice, your French will not improve, it will instead deteriorate.

And I have noticed among the students, those who progress the least are those who are always very stressed about making mistakes, who fret over insignificant details for fear of not being perfect.


On the other hand, my students who are the most relaxed, who practice without getting worked up over making mistakes, are the ones who make the most progress.

If you tend to be very stressed and get stuck on the idea of making mistakes, really take the time to reflect on your mindset and gradually change it. You will find that it's liberating and it will really help you to express yourself more naturally in French.


From theory to practice:

Grammar is a tool, not an end in itself.

We spend hours studying rules, doing exercises, but when it comes to speaking, we sometimes find ourselves stuck. That's normal, grammar is complex and it takes time to fully assimilate it.

I offer a lot of grammar lessons on my YouTube channel to help you progress and improve your French. It's great if you follow these lessons, I thank you for your support, but I also advise you to go further.

Don't forget that grammar is a tool to help you build correct sentences. It's there to guide you, but it shouldn't be the center of your learning. So, keep studying and practicing grammar, but don't forget to use it as much as possible in real situations. It's by applying it in practice that you will truly master it.

I'll take the example of the gym. You can spend hours watching videos on how to get muscular, how to build endurance, but if you don't put yourself into action, you will never get muscular or enduring.

Theory should lead you directly to practice.

For example, in the resources of my conversation group, Ohlala French Coffee, my students have access to relevant grammar lessons on our theme and right away, I invite them to reuse this theory in context.

For example, a few weeks ago, our theme was "happiness", I proposed to my students a lesson on the subjunctive, as it's a mode linked to feelings, to the expression of happiness. There is a theoretical lesson and I set practice questions to use during their conversations. This way, they are encouraged to use the subjunctive in context,

in a real communication situation.

We move from theory to practice.


In my conversation group, Ohlala French Coffee, you can interact with other learners and use grammar in a natural and spontaneous way. You can practice grammar in a real context, and not just in the exercises in your French book.


Remember that:

  • Listening to content in French cannot be optimal without practice
  • The mistakes you make should not block you when you express yourself in French
  • Theory cannot be assimilated without practice

If I had to summarize in one sentence what I have been saying up to now, it's: Stay calm and practice your French!


See you soon for new adventures, in French of course! 🇫🇷