Business French for Beginners: 7 Unmissable Tips for Flawless French
Beginner’s Guide to Business French: Our Top 7 Tips
Speaking your customer’s or client’s language is one of the best ways to get ahead in the business world – and who doesn’t want that competitive advantage when it comes to closing a deal or getting a contract signed?
As one of the most important languages on the international business stage, particularly in a post-Brexit world, knowing how to communicate in French in a business environment can bring you great rewards. Our Business French for beginners’ guide provides the starting point you need to take your business French to the next level.
If you already have a basic level of general French but have yet to venture into French for professional purposes – this beginner’s guide to learning business French is for you. Here are our 7 tips to help you increase your business French vocabulary, and improve your confidence when dealing with business matters in French.
1. Get the basics right
Before you start learning business French it is important that you have a good basic command of general French. You need a platform to start from, so ideally a high A2 or low B1 level will be sufficient to start learning business French. If you are a complete beginner or only have ‘un peu de français’ then there are a number of great ways you can get up to speed before starting to learn business French.
✅Get started with a free one week trial of French language learning online with Frantasique. This is an interactive course which builds on your knowledge.
✅Take a group evening language course. With over 11 UK locations to choose from and all levels, including complete beginners, this is a fun and social way to accelerate your language learning.
✅With private tuition you can decide the time, the place and the focus of the lessons. Design a timetable to suit your schedule, private tuition gives you flexibility and is tailored to your specific needs.
2. Get reading a French newspaper regularly
A great example of a French newspaper that will provide you with financial, economic and business news is La Tribune. All of the newspaper content for La Tribune is available online. Choose an article that you are interested in and start with the headline – what do you think the article is about? If there is an image use this to help you predict the content. This will activate previous knowledge and help you guess the meaning of words from the context. Next skim the article, reading it quickly to get the general idea of what the article is about – it doesn’t matter that you don’t understand every word.
Next, read the article again in more detail, make a note of key words and expressions you don’t understand and that you can’t guess from the context. Look these words and expressions up using a French online dictionary tool and make sure you revisit them on a regular basis.
Try to do this at least 2 -3 times a week and you will see your reading skills improve and your French business vocabulary expand.
3. Watch a business report online
Every week day the news broadcaster France24.com features a daily video report on French and international news called “Le journal de l’économie.”. The report focuses on business news including financial and economic reporting.
It’s important to watch the report without any subtitling if you want to practise your listening skills (rather than your reading skills). Whilst watching the report make a note of any words that are said a number of times that you don’t understand. It’s really important to not worry about understanding every word, but it is important to recognise which words carry high value to the central message. Write these words down and look them up in the dictionary to check the meaning and the spelling.
Again, try to do this at least 2 – 3 times per week to improve your listening skills and your French business vocabulary.
4. Understand the culture as well as the language
When doing business in France, or any other French speaking country such as Belgium, Canada, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Senegal, Switzerland, it is imperative that you have a good understanding of the cultural norms as well as the language.
Successful communication is delicately intertwined with cultural sensitivities and language. In order to know how your body language, gestures, and behaviours are interpreted, what to do and more importantly, what not to do – make sure you do some thorough research on the cultural aspects of doing business in a French speaking country. That is why understanding the culture is an absolute must in our beginner’s guide to business French.
5. Follow French business leaders and influencers on social media
Whether you prefer to use twitter, Linkedin, Facebook or Instagram look for and follow the social media profiles of French leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, and economists, that you are interested in. You will then have regular input of opinions and commentary in French, giving you more exposure to real life use of the language and helping you learn new vocabulary.
6. A beginner’s guide to business French: Practise written dialogues out loud
‘Reading out loud’ is a very important part of improving your pronunciation, getting your mouth/lips/tongue used to producing unfamiliar words and sounds, and in improving your memory of French sentence structure and syntax. However, in order to reproduce authentic language it is better to choose dialogues, speeches, transcript and written text that reflect real life conversations, rather than written prose.
Most texts are written to be read, not to be spoken, and this impacts how effective and ‘real life’ the reading out loud practise is. Why not choose a speech by a French speaking politician, the transcript of a TED talk in French, or your favourite French play and use this to practise reading out loud.
7. A beginner’s guide to business French: Write your CV in French
Writing your CV or résumé in French will expose any gaps in your French business language knowledge and also give you the opportunity to learn how to express yourself in French in direct relation to your own achievements, qualifications and skills set. And when that dream job for an international French company comes up – you will be ready!
Europass is the European Union standard CV format. You can use the example CVs they provide in French in order to familiarize yourself with the correct terminology and also the most common layout. The Europass website also offers an online editor so that you can create your own CV in French.
Use these 7 helpful tips to find your French fluency in the business world and use your business French knowledge to help you build relationships with French-speakers and open up professional opportunities on an international platform.
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