Keeping in touch with your mother tongue while living abroad (here: French)

We all know that great writing skills and a complete mastery of your target language are necessary when you are a translator. But how do you maintain your fluency and keep up with new terminology when you live abroad?

I’ll speak from experience here and share with you a few tips on how I keep contact with my native French while living in Norway. (They work for other languages as well.)


Library services and loans between all national public and university libraries are entirely free in Norway. In the biggest towns, as well as in the capital, they have multilingual departments. I can easily select French books from their website and have them delivered to the library of my choice.

The same goes for DVDs.

Of course, the films you order will be a couple of years old, but you may discover things you have missed, as well as end up watching movies you would not have watched had you been in France.

Sending a request for a recently published book to be bought is entirely possible. I did it for Du temps qu’on existait and had my hands on the book within the month.


For those who prefer the moving picture, know that some TV content is not geoblocked. I can easily watch the news on TF1 with a one-day delay, and access news and TV content from independent small channels. Though I prefer to log in on to Le Monde or other online newspapers to get quick news, I appreciated being able to watch news reports on recent tragic domestic events.

I also watch Youtube or Dailymotion where users have uploaded French soaps (well, I can be a little bit modern), but my favourite website for audiovisual and radiophonic content is without a doubt INA. Some short clips are free and longer content is paying (you can select to download it or have it burned on a DVD). The last film I bought was Les suaires de Véronique, adapted from Michel Tournier, and I’m discovering “Le petit théâtre de Bouvard”.

Netflix also has a few French speaking films and series on rotation. I recently binged-watched Les revenants and saw Intouchables for the first time.


So far, I’ve not really listened to podcasts in French. I know that France culture.

I mostly listen to free audiobooks that I find on Librivox or Littérature audio. All books are in the public domain, so they are quite old, but it is still a wonderful occasion to discover texts or authors. The readers are extremely competent and their plays, particularly, sound everything professional. My favourite so far : On purge bébé! by Georges Feydeau


Get social and find expats groups on the internet. Try Internations, for example,  or the website Meet up, to see if they have members near you.

If you live in a big town, chances are that you will find an Alliance Française or a Cercle français. They’ll have a small library and organise language classes and weekly meetings.

Think about independent cinemas, as some set up foreign movie cycles and festivals or regularly run independent French films, usually on a Sunday afternoon.


I do not tend to read a lot of French blogs or websites (I need a serious update), but I keep contact with the written word thanks to ebooks books and texts that are in the public domain. Littérature audio links to different websites like Project Gutenberg  where virtually thousands of texts are available.

Of course, if, unlike me, you do not spend your life on, you can add your favourite French blogs to your feedly and make sure you get a daily dose of general as well as niche terminology in your mother tongue.

Categories: Language skills

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