Reading time: 2 minutesDifficulty: Intermediate
Are you struggling to write essays in French? In this article, I have shared a list of 30 useful French words and phrases that will help you create more sophisticated written arguments for your exam (at school or for DELF exam).
If you want to learn even more, check out one of my e-books here: Improving French Vocabulary (the most complete French Vocabulary e-book available).
I also offer an extended version of this blog post, (57 French phrases instead of just 30) saved as a PDF which you can print for daily use. Click on the button below.
|à la fin||in the end|
|à mon avis / quant à moi / selon moi||in my opinion|
|autrement dit||in other words|
|avant de conclure||before concluding...|
|bien que je puisse comprendre que||although I can understand that|
|cela va sans dire que||it goes without saying that|
|d’après moi||according to me|
|d’une part, d’autre part||on one hand, on the other hand|
|en ce qui concerne...||as far as ... is concerned|
|en outre||furthermore / moreover|
|enfin||finally, at last|
|grâce à||thanks to|
|il est donc question de||it is a matter of|
|il faut bien reconnaître que||it must be recognised that|
|il semble que les avantages l'emportent sur les inconvenients||it seems that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages|
|il serait absurde de dire que||it would be absurd to say that|
|il vaut mieux||it is better to|
|je crois que||i think/ believe that|
|je soutiens donc que||I maintain that|
|je suis contre||I am against|
|je voudrais souligner que||I’d like to underline that|
|la premiere constatation qui s'impose, c'est que||the first thing to be noted is that|
|ne… ni… ni||neither… nor|
|pas forcément la faute de||not necessarily the fault of|
|pour commencer||to start with|
|selon moi||according to me|
|tout bien considéré||all things considered|
If you are hungry for more, do not hesitate to take a look at my French language e-books and audio here. One of which is the most comprehensive French vocabulary e-book available in the market.
Get it now for only $14.90
Let me know which you find the most useful for you in the comments section.
P.S: Do not hesitate to share this article on pinterest,facebook, twitter or google plus.
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About the Author Frederic
Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +
If you’re like many foreign language students, the AP French Language exam has been a worrisome figure on the horizon for quite some time. As you finally begin this AP course and prepare for the exam next spring, remember that there are many different resources out there to help you along the way. This Ultimate List of the AP French Language tips will give you a head start over all of the other French students preparing for the exam. Use this list, combined with some hard work and assistance from your AP teacher, and you’ll ace this exam in no time.
So you want to pass the AP French Language exam? Well here’s the breakdown. Every year:
– More than 20,000 students take the AP French Language exam
– About 75% receive a score of 3 or higher
– Only about 38% receive a crucial score of a 4 or 5
– Only 12% score a 5, which can really blow away college admissions staff
Want to be in the top 10% of exam takers? Want to receive even more scholarship money and acceptance letters from top universities? Want to awe and impress your AP teacher and fellow students? Follow this indispensable list for some tips that will set you on your way.
How to Study for AP French Language Tips
1. It’s simple – use French! Easier said than done. Unlike Spanish, French doesn’t have a huge presence in the U.S. today. There aren’t French news channels or (many) French radio stations. So how can you start using the language? We’ll offer several ideas in the tips below.
2. Find the culture in your every day. What do you think of when you think Francophone culture? Well, we think of food first and foremost! A fantastic way to incorporate more French into your daily routine – and learn some great new recipes – is to cook French food. Used bookstores typically have foreign language cookbooks on the cheap. Pick one up and highlight some recipes that you’d like to try out. They don’t have to be complicated for you to benefit from the language. Some of the best dishes are simple and require few ingredients – fondue au fromage, anyone?
3. Find a language buddy. This applies to all foreign language students: most high schools have foreign exchange students and teachers. Lucky for you, as a French language student, tons of countries have French as a national language – not just France! French is an official language in all of these places:
France, Canada: Quebec and Ontario, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, Monaco, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Haiti, Réunion, Martinique, Switzerland, and many more!
Use this to your advantage! Find a language buddy to practice your French. Often times, other students and exchange teachers are willing to do 15 minutes in French for 15 minutes of English practice with you!
4. Find a language exchange. These are more common than you think! Many French speakers in the U.S. are looking to improve their English and are beyond happy to participate in conversational language exchanges with native English speakers. Typically you spend 15-20 minutes speaking in one language and then switch to the other. Where can you find these exchanges? Check out the public library, civic center, or ask around at your school.
5. Get your vocabulary up to par! So you’ve reached AP French Language. By this time in your foreign language career, you’ve most likely mastered the grammar of the language – at least in written form. You’ve seen all the verb tenses and know your irregular adjective conjugations. Still, you’ll be at a loss communicating in French if you don’t have an extensive vocabulary to express yourself. Get ready, here’s how to start expanding your vocabulary in French today.
6. A new word every day. The easiest way to start studying for AP French is to introduce a new word into your French vocabulary every day. The Instagram account French Words has a new word (as well as its phonetic pronunciation and grammatical gender) every day! Flip calendars are also great for getting a new word every day. Then, try to use it during class.
7. Bring out your vocabulary cards. Or don’t! We recommend using vocabulary cards – they are a language learner’s best friend. Put a word in French on one side and a description of the word on the other side. Don’t like carrying around a ton of paper? There are so many apps available to make flashcards. Run through the words while you’re on the treadmill. Or every time commercials come on during your favorite show. Or every day before you begin French class to really get your mind churning.
Insider tip: There are good ways to make a vocab card and there are better ways. Which of these looks better for the word la craie?
Yup, you guessed it – the one on the right. Why? Because you didn’t need to use English to get to the meaning of the word. This will make you a faster speaker and writer in French. You also included all the relevant information such as the article and the word’s pronunciation.
8. Keep track of unknown words. Successful language learners swear by this technique. Keep a small notepad with you throughout the day. Then, every time you hear or see a word that you don’t know, write it down. Even if you don’t get the spelling right, jotting down these unknown words and looking them up later is one of the best techniques for acquiring new vocabulary items. Why? Because there are so many words that you encounter that you don’t know, even in your AP class, that you cannot possibly keep track of them all. Write them down. Look them up. Repeat.
9. But don’t forget the important parts. Learning vocabulary is nothing if you don’t know how to use it. This means learning:
1) The pronunciation
How do you say it?
2) If it’s a noun, gender of the word
Is it le or la?
3) If it’s a verb, the conjugation
Is it a regular or irregular verb?
4) Put it in context
How do you use the word in a sentence?
10. Whip out old practice exams. Reviewing old AP exams is a technique known to help students prepare for the test. Year after year, AP teachers say the one thing that sets apart those students who pass from those who don’t, was who completed the practice exams in class. Start getting yourself ready now by reviewing the old exams that your teacher may have available for you.
Insider tip: Know the structure of the exam
There are three main components to the AP French Language exam: multiple choice, speaking, and writing. In order of appearance on the test they are:
interpersonal writing (e-mail)
presentational writing (persuasive essay)
presentational speaking (cultural comparison)
Don’t forget some of the AP exam basics. Once you complete one section, you can’t go back and change your answers. Instead, simply move on and focus on the section at hand. You also can’t work ahead on the exam. So even if you’re especially nervous for the speaking section, don’t be. There’s nothing you can do during the multiple choice section to ready yourself for it so breathe and focus on the questions in front of you. In a way, it’s relieving. You can’t work ahead anyways, so don’t be anxious about the upcoming sections.
11. Get together to study. Studying can become very tedious. And most AP French Language students aren’t taking just one AP test – they’re taking 3, 4, or 5. To get over the boredom of studying alone, form a group that meets once or twice a week. This is a great way to socialize while reviewing but also get fresh ideas and insights on the course material. Split up the culture section and have one person report a new country for every meeting. Already sounds better than reviewing alone, doesn’t it?
12. Look up the guidelines. We’ve talked about a couple other online resources but one you should be especially familiar with is the CollegeBoard itself. The scoring guidelines that AP French Language exam graders have right in front of them as they grade exams are available on this site. Curious about what graders are looking for? The CollegeBoard is very open with this, so take advantage of it.
13. Incorporate the language into your everyday routine. There are so many ways to incorporate French into your daily life – you’re probably not even thinking of them! Change your social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter to French – even your ads will start to appear in French. Set your browser homepage to Le Monde or Le Journal de Québec and read a news article every morning. Set your cell phone to French to learn new vocabulary. French will be all around you in no time.
14. Utilize your best resource: your teacher. You probably don’t know anyone who is a better resource for you when taking the AP French Language exam than your AP French teacher. He/she has seen hundreds of students take the exam and knows what has worked and what hasn’t. This is even more relevant if they are one of the teachers who grades the AP exam in the summertime. So ask your teacher questions. Be an active learner in class. Learn from previous students’ mistakes. Your teacher will be more than happy to help you in your preparation for the test.
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AP French Language Multiple Choice Tips
1. Ignore instructions. This goes along with practicing for the test like we mentioned earlier. By the time you get to test day, you should be so comfortable with the material and overall structure of the test that you don’t need to read the instructions. While other students waste precious minutes reviewing the directions, you can skip ahead and get cracking on the hefty number of multiple-choice questions you have coming your way.
2. Answer every single question. Remember on the ACT and SAT when your teacher constantly stressed not answering questions you didn’t know? You were punished for incorrect answers. Well, not on the AP French Language exam! In fact, the grading machines just ignore incorrect answers. Can’t figure out a question? Running out of time? Mark an answer anyways – it might be correct.
3. Calculate your time. How many questions do you have on the multiple choice section? 65. How many minutes are you allotted? 95. That means about a minute and half for every question. Don’t go beyond that, even if a question is tripping you up. Mark something down as an answer. Then, circle the question to come back to it later if you have time.
4. Move on from words you don’t know. You will inevitably encounter words that you don’t know in the multiple-choice section. Don’t stress about this or convince yourself that you weren’t sufficiently prepared. Instead, skim past those words and focus on those that you do know. You will be able to figure out the question despite not knowing a word or two. Even looking at the answers can sometimes help. So don’t stress when approached with an unfamiliar word.
5. Read the entire question. AP tests are notorious for their tough multiple-choice sections. And the College Board thinks they can trip you up by giving a lot of background information and not stating the actual objective until the end of the question. So be one step ahead. Read the entire question, all the way through. Then, select an answer. They anticipate many students not reading the entire question and give wrong answers that correspond appropriately so don’t fall into this trap.
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AP French Language Free Response Tips
1. Sound natural and conversational. This isn’t always so easy for someone who speaks French as a second language. But listening to French radio (try RadioFrance) or watching television shows (Fais pas çi, fais pas ça is available on French Netflix and is very popular) can really help you with these elements of your language. What do you hear when you listen to native speakers? Lots of uh, and bon, right? Good. Use this to your advantage. Dot your speech with these native-sounding interjections and give yourself more time to think of the right words.
2. Slow down. For many students, the free response section of the AP French Language exam is the most anxiety inducing of the test. As a result, too many students speak quickly, stumble over their words, or provide an incoherent argument. Don’t let this be you! Firstly, speak slowly. You have so much time – two whole minutes for the cultural comparison. There is no need to rush through your words. In fact, you’ll make more mistakes and will be less likely to find the words you’re looking if you speak too quickly.
3. Use your transition words. This actually also applies for the written portion. But, French is known to differ a lot stylistically between its written and spoken forms, so we’ll mention it here. There are lots of colloquial words that are used in spoken French to change topic or connect your thoughts. Here are some of them:
Je veux dire…
Comme je disais avant…
En même temps…
Insider tip: Sounding native
Par contre and en revanche are often cited in dictionaries as being synonyms in French. And to a certain extent, they are. However, they differ in their context of usage. Whereas you would rarely hear someone say en revanche out loud, you hardly even see par contre written in formal, academic prose. Know when to use which term for your transitions.
4. Use the correct pronouns. You know the difference between vous and tu – or do you? Vous is used for formal contexts, when you’re speaking with a teacher or addressing a grader as you record yourself in the speaking section of the test. Tu, however, is used when speaking with classmates or people you have known for a while. Vous is also used when addressing multiple people. Be very mindful of this distinction when speaking. Register is one thing that AP graders look for since it’s mentioned explicitly on the scoring guidelines. So you know it’s very important.
5. Try recording yourself and classmates. Still worried about the speaking section of the AP French Language exam? Not to worry, most students are nervous for this part. An excellent way to prepare is by recording yourself and others. Then, play back what you said. Do you sound rushed? How is your /R/ pronunciation (that guttural sound)? Be sure to get classmates’ help with this. They’d love to exchange tips on this tough section of the test.
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AP French Language Essay Tips & Advice
1. Penmanship matters, so use your best. Maybe it should, maybe it shouldn’t, but penmanship matters. And don’t you want your AP French Language exam grader to be in a good mood when they’re scoring your exam? Make reading essays simpler for your grader by writing very clearly and unambiguously on the test. Take your time. As we’ll point out below, it isn’t the length of the essay that matters, but the content.
2. No need to fill all the pages! You are given so many pages in the essay booklet on the AP French Language exam. This is actually an unfortunate part of the test and one that many students fall victim to. Remember: you don’t need to use all the pages! They are there for students who write larger or who made a large mistake and need to start over. Instead, stick to three, maximum four, pages on the presentational writing section. Graders read the essays quickly. And the questions are geared towards shorter essays, not longer. Less is more! (And you have less opportunity to make mistakes.)
Insider tip: French and its punctuation
Did you know that French uses different punctuation than English? Have you ever noticed, for example, that your teacher writes grades not as 92.3% but rather 92,3? Have you ever seen that question marks and exclamation points in French stories always come after a space? Check out the sentence below for some of the common punctuation differences between French and English:
– Le prof t’a donné quelle note sur le partiel ?
– J’ai reçu 13,3 sur 20. Et toi ?
– Moi, j’ai reçu 12,4. Il m’a commenté, « analyse pas suffisante ». Ca veut dire quoi, ça ?
What’s different in the phrases above?
1) space between question mark and end of sentence: partiel?
2) « » Arrows for quotes instead of English high quotes “ ”
3) No accents necessary on uppercase letters, only lowercase: Ca but ça
4) Comma instead of decimal point and vice versa: 1.000.000 instead of 1,000,000 for one million
Does this matter? Absolutely! Impress AP French Language readers with the depth of your knowledge and detail in French writing. Get all the points that you can!
3. Have an outline and a thesis – before beginning. Before you ever flip the page from the sources to the actual essay, you should have an outline and thesis written. ‘Why?’ you ask. ‘It’s in my mind.’ Not good enough. Stakes are too high and the essay writing time passes by too fast. You must know what you’re writing about from the beginning or you risk wasting precious writing time. By writing down a thesis and having an idea of your structure, you’ll have something to refer back to you if you get lost in the prose of your essay.
4. Use ink on the essays. Pencil is great for writing notes and that all-important outline that we’ve already talked about. But when it comes to the essay itself, stick to ink. Why? Because pencil smudges easily and could render parts of your essay unreadable to the grader – yikes! Also, it simply isn’t as clear as blue or black ink. So stick to pens for the essay itself. Unsure of an idea while you’re writing? Write in pencil first. Then, go back over it in pen once you’ve finished.
5. Proofread. You must, must, must proofread your essay. Even if you’re on the last paragraph and you only have three minutes left, take the time to proofread. You would be amazed how many errors you can make while you’re writing and thinking quickly. When you first construct your essay, you’re likely to be so involved in the material itself and incorporating your sources (we’ll get to those below) that you forget about all-important accents or a consistent verb tense throughout. Proofreading will catch most of those errors. Keep an eye out for the following while you do one last read-through:
1) No passive voice – when in doubt, use on:
This: On peut voir dans la ligne deux que… Not this: La ligne deux est vue par le lecteur comme…
2) A consistent verb tense throughout – don’t switch between past and present
3) Watch out for accents.
There’s a big difference between accent aigu ´ and accent grave ` so don’t get sloppy.
4) Don’t forget subjunctive.
Did the subject change within the clause? Are you expressing doubt or uncertainty? You probably need subjunctive.
6. Use the sources. Hopefully you know this one already! The sources provided for the persuasive essay are not just there for your amusement – you must incorporate them into your essay. In fact, graders are looking to make sure that you include not just one or two of the sources – but all of them. So read the sources carefully and think about how you will incorporate them into the outline before you even begin writing – that way you won’t forget to include one.
7. Weave the sources into the essay. Speaking of sources, if graders are looking to see if you included all three sources – don’t you want to make it very obvious to them that you did? So go ahead and use direct citations from the sources (with quotes and a citation marker). This is better than simply summing up information from the sources because 1) the graders will spot that you used a source right away and 2) you’re less likely to get the information from the sources wrong – a very common mistake that test takers make!
Tips by AP French Language Teachers
Did you know that teachers grade the AP French Language exams? And not just any teachers – your teachers. That’s right. Every summer, hundreds of AP French Language teachers and university professors who teach equivalent courses get together to grade the writing and speaking components of the exam. So who do you think knows best what graders are and aren’t looking for? Teachers themselves, of course!
1. Write neatly. This teacher reinforces one of our writing tips mentioned above! “Just write clearly. We can always tell when you don’t know how to spell a word and you try to fudge your way out of it but writing illegibly. You’d be surprised how few points students lose for orthographic errors so write clearly. If you make a couple of minor mistakes, you won’t lose points for it.”
2. Do full practice exams. On the subject of practice exams, which we have also encouraged, this teacher says, “Unfortunately, we do not have enough time in class to do a full exam run-through of multiple choice, speaking, and writing. Great students will take the initiative and do this on their own or in groups. This is a long exam. It takes stamina. The only way to build that up is to do full run-throughs of the exam. All sections in one sitting – just as it will be on the day of the test.”
3. Re-energizing during the exam. It’s a long exam. How can you prepare yourself to make it all the way through until the writing section? This teacher has some tips: “I hate how the writing comes at the end! I think it’s the hardest part of the exam and takes the most energy out of my students. So I tell them, in addition to eating a large breakfast or lunch on the day of the AP French Language exam, bring a snack or two with you! Every year my students come back saying how happy they were that I recommended this. The exam will take a lot out of you – get some energy back in return!”
4. Must use sources! Didn’t we tell you that incorporating your sources was important? Here it is again: “Please, please, please use all of your sources! Every year when I’m grading the AP French Language exams, I feel terrible that I have to dock students points because they forgot a source or forgot to incorporate sources altogether!” How can you remember to do this? Write the sources into your outline from the very beginning. That way, you won’t forget to include them.
Insider tip: What if I forget a source?
Every year, so many students forget a source that the CollegeBoard finally decided that students can still receive a score of a 4 or 5 even without mentioning one of the sources. But the essay has to be exceptionally good to still receive such a high score. So rather than take the chance, follow the directions and use your sources.
5. Be a consistent studier. Studying for the AP exam doesn’t just happen the few weeks before exam day in May. In fact, many AP French Language teachers say the best study habits are established from the first week of class. “I try to encourage my students to form study groups outside of class and good learning habits such as learning new vocabulary and exposing themselves to different dialects of French. They should be doing this really from the start of their first semester in AP French. This is the highest level of French taught at our school and offers them the invaluable opportunity to gain college credit. So students should treat the course as they would a college-level class.”
6. Master the present, including the subjunctive, the past and the future tenses! Thanks for the tip from Debbie M.
7. Challenge yourself daily to do more than you could yesterday. Listen to challenging French news broadcasts. If you don’t understand the background of the topics being discussed, do some further research online. You will enhance your knowledge of current events–a key element of success on the exam–very quickly this way. Thanks for the tip from Stephen O. at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High.
8. Practice dictation regularly–It may seem old fashioned, but dictation (la dictée) is a great way to hone spelling and grammar and to increase vocabulary. Find a 30-second snip-it online and write out everything you hear. Ask a teacher or native to check it for you. Thanks for the tip from Stephen O. at West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High.
9. Expose yourself to French every day. An easy way to get in 15 minutes is by either listening to the French news (Journal Télévisé) on TF1.fr while getting ready for school in the morning or while getting ready for bed at night. Thanks for the tip from Kerry G. at Greenwich High School.
10. During my study abroad in college, I would listen to the French radio news every morning with my host family or alone. It helped me get used to the pacing of real French while, at the same time, having a general idea of the topic before the report started. Thanks for the tip from Kerry G. at Greenwich High School.
11. I tell my students to watch a French video clip (news or otherwise) daily to get used to hearing different accents and to get their ears used to hearing spoken French. Thanks for the tip from Linda W. at Haddon Township.
12. DON’T PANIC… Breathe and think, what did we talk about. Thanks for the submission by Timothy K. from Apex High.
13. Help the Reader: Assume the reader is tired….it is the end of the day…they have been grading since 8:00am….Help the reader find the answer. Thanks for the submission by Timothy K. from Apex High.
Label your sections
Underline important terms and key parts of your answer
–i.e. if it asks for the definition of nation, underline the word nation…
14. Do Not Dump: You should try to avoid writing “dump” essays where you “dump” or empty your brain of everything you can think of onto the paper. Thanks for the submission by Timothy K. from Apex High.
15. Outline: OUTLINING the questions will help you tremendously! As soon as you get the CRQ’s, spend a couple of minutes outlining the main points for your answer right on the question sheet. This way, when you go to write your full response, you will have a baseline of information and important points to send you on your way. Those who have done this in the past have told me it has really helped them be successful on the exam. Thanks for the submission by Timothy K. from Apex High.
16. Pick On The Weaker Ones First: Answer the question you think is the easiest first; then go onto the next easiest, etc… This way, you leave the hardest one for the end when you have more time to answer. Thanks for the submission by Timothy K. from Apex High.
17. Take your flashcards to another level: When your writing out your flashcards/vocabulary make sure you are not just writing it in your own words… but be able to connect the term/concept to another term/concept. This way when your writing your FRQ you will be able to show the reader that you not only know the information, but can critically connect the material to other units/topics. Thanks for the submission by Timothy K. from Apex High.
18. AP French Language is vocabulary driven. Study your list of vocabulary terms listed on the CollegeBoard site labeled Martha Sharma’s vocabulary terms. I have my own version as well. Let me know if you want me to send them. Thanks for the tip from David E.
19. READ as many multiple sources as possible to prepare. Thanks for the tip from Anne C.
20. If students make a point to Listen to 10 min of French everyday in the form of news or podcasts – they can make great strides in their listening comprehension which is the most difficult part. Thanks for the tip from Harpreet M.
21. Trouvez un roman qui vous intéresse et lisez-le chaque jour hors de la classe. Thanks for the tip from Rachel D.
22. Try to listen to as much French programming as possible. And talk back to the audio, just to break through the speaking barrier; no one can hear you but you, it will loosen you up! Thanks for the tip from Madame Jean M.
23. To build a good ear for the language, read a script first. Use the CD to listen to what you just read; multiple times. Try to understand it. Then check the script again. Thanks for the tip from Angela W.
24. Listen to AS MUCH FRENCH as possible from authentic sources: videos, vimeos, movies, film trailers, especially clips of films or shows you are already familiar with. Use material which is updated and meaningful to students to keep their interest! Thanks for the tip from Jennifer B.
25. Know real world examples of Vocabulary. Example: What does gerrymandering look like? Thanks for the tip from Sharon R.
26. Read every day about lots of different topics from sources all over the world. News articles, blogs, anything! Thanks for the tip from Danelle C.
Are you a teacher or student? Do you have an awesome tip? Let us know!
Just how tough is the AP French Language exam? Well we said before that more than 75% of students score a 3 or higher – so this exam is definitely beatable! And this list of the Ultimate Tips will get you started in your preparation for the exam. Here are some of the key points summed up again:
– Start reviewing now – old tests, new vocabulary words, study groups
– Find a language exchange to buff up speaking skills
– On test day, establish an outline and thesis before even approaching your essay
– You can’t work ahead – focus on what’s at hand during the test
– Proofread all written material
But remember that our list of the Ultimate Tips is by no means the last stop on your journey to a great score on this AP test. Go ahead and check out other sources such as (insert other articles on AP French prep here) to get even more insider tips and advice from previous test takers and AP French Language teachers. With these resources in hand, there’s no way you can’t succeed!
– These stats concern “typical” French language learners – those who have not spent considerable time in a country of the target language or do not speak French in the home.
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