If you are among the brave students who are fans of multiculturalism, this advice is for you! Whether you’re enrolled in a French-as-a-second-language (FLS) course or you’ve decided to learn on your own, the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) has a few suggestions to help you learn French.
But what exactly is OLBI?
First of all, OLBI is the University’s hub for learning French and English. It’s also a leading research centre that is home to expert professors who specialize in all aspects of bilingualism and multilingualism.
Let’s start with a first tip: an entirely free, home-grown app that bundles together a series of relevant tools and services you can use to learn French.
ILOBify: the Francophonie in the palm of your hand
ILOBify is an app that allows you to expand your discovery of the Francophonie thanks to a host of resources: documentaries, films, articles, music, digital tools, and more!
This app also allows you to register for our conversation workshops, which we’ve sorted by skill level and offer in an informal, relaxed setting. Come meet your peers and take part in interesting, small group discussions.
Dynamic online communities
If you’d like to be a member of a community of online learners, why not join one of the groups on Discord – and invite others to join as well. A hit since the summer of 2020, this online platform gathers students together and helps them exchange information and resources.
- Francophonie uOttawa – This group is managed by student union representatives and provides resources and activities to keep you informed about what’s going on in the Francophonie.
- Learning French – uOttawa – This is a more informal group organized by students who share the same goal, namely to improve their French skills or to maintain their skill level by communicating with their peers.
If you prefer taking a more individual approach to learning a second language, here are a few suggestions of activities you might want to try, depending on your availability and preferences:
Do you enjoy binge-watching a Netflix series? Watch Lupin, starring Omar Sy, inspired by a fictional character, Arsène Lupin, the gentleman-thief, whose adventures are told in eight books by Maurice Leblanc available in digital format. Did we mention that its free? Yup!
And if you enjoy manga, particularly by Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki, why not watch his first film, Le Château de Cagliostro, whose main character is a descendant of Lupin – and take on the challenge of reading the subtitles in French! We guarantee you’ll be hooked.
Want to watch more movies in French? Discover the selection from our library on the Criterion-on-Demand platform. You’ll find comedies from Quebec, such as Starbuck, and from France, like La famille Bélier, along with classics such as Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis.
Need to polish up your French for more formal purposes? Why not watch some fascinating documentaries provided for free on the platform of TV5, a Francophone channel.
Whether you prefer full-length documentaries or short docs, remember to select closed captioning so that you don’t miss a thing and can rewind to check whether you understood! And why not organize an online movie night to share the experience with those closest to you.
Do you listen to podcasts? OLBI experts Hélène Knoerr and Alysse Weinberg say that: “Several studies have shown that podcasts can be an effective tool for improving listening skills in a second language (L2) at the university level.” So why not try to find some that also feature a transcript, such as uOCourant, the University’s podcast. That way, if you’re not sure, you can always read the text. Here is an example of a bilingual podcast that will make you want to listen to more of them!
A wide range of apps
What’s more, here are a few free apps that will help you learn the language of BigFlo & Oli:
Français premiers pas
This intuitive app helps beginners learn French.
This fun app help you learn a language while listening to your favourite artists. Select your level of difficulty and have fun filling in the song lyrics.
Mon métier, c’est en français
Mon métier, c’est en français is a series of videos and learning tools that help you improve your French language skills in tourism and sales-based workplaces.
Check the À propos du projet section of the Mon métier, c’est en français website to install the app on your smartphone.
We really hope that you will make the most of every occasion to learn and we encourage you to take every opportunity to improve. If you like taking calculated risks, why not try our Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport, in which you’ll find a range of motivating goals, like “I spoke French with a friend who I’d normally speak English with”, or “I sent an email in French to a uOttawa staff member”.
The Passport also allows you to add your own linguistic risks. For example, you could choose French as the language you use to browse a bilingual website, or you could look up the translated version of your favourite book and rediscover it in your second language!
In case you need a final nudge, here are two more suggestions:
- The first will help you find solutions when writing in French: the Academic Writing Help Centre (AWHC) gives you full access to its French writing tools as well as the ability to make an appointment with one of their specialists.
- The second suggestion is a free book that will help you track your progress and succeed in your studies while you think about your future career as a bilingual expert: Décrocher son diplôme (et l’emploi de ses rêves!).
These suggestions, resources, and tools highlight the importance of motivation. According to OLBI Professor Laurence Thibault, who is in charge of FLS 4775, a course that specializes in sociocultural skills, all learning involves introspection and personal reflection, which is the basis for in-depth, sustainable language learning.
This course is just one example of the teaching support provided to advanced learners: in fact, the OLBI offers a wide range of FLS courses – at all levels. We would be happy to see you there; the best way to learn is together. The OLBI professors are true specialists who will guide you in forging your path to bilingualism!