Have you been trying to find more information about how to learn French? Learning another language can be rewarding, but it can also be difficult. If you’re trying to learn French but are going at it blindly, you might begin to feel frustrated and even consider giving up altogether. However, have no fear! There are many tricks and strategies you can use to help you on your way to becoming fluent in French, but before we get into the nitty-gritty on how to learn French, let’s start with the basics.
What Is French?
French is a romance language, meaning it shares many fundamental qualities of other romance languages, such as Spanish and Italian, that developed from Latin. It originated in the European country of France and has spread elsewhere over the centuries via immigration and colonization. French is the official language in more than 25 countries, and it’s widely spoken in many more, making it a very popular choice for those wanting to learn a second language choice.
Why Learn French?
Everyone has his or her own reasons for researching into how to learn French, but remembering your personal “why” will keep you motivated through any difficulties you encounter as you discover ways of how to learn French. If you’re interested in learning French but if you are having problems nailing down your own personal reason, here are some motivating factors commonly cited by students of the French language:
- Travel the world without relying on English as your only language
- Communicate with French-speaking family
- Read literary classic in their original French
- Connect with native speakers
- Experience French culture
How to Learn French
The best way to discover how to learn French on your own is to dive right in, however, we suggest you begin by studying in short, regular segments. Studying too much in one sitting can exhaust you, and after too long you’ll stop retaining anything. To keep from wasting your time, take regular breaks to think about something else. It allows your brain time to recoup and come back refreshed and ready to learn. Spending 15 minutes a day learning French will get you far better results than two hours on a weekend with too much going on in the background.
Spoken French and written French are different. If you focus only on spoken French, after a while you’ll realize that while you can understand what people are saying, you are also illiterate! A way to combat that is to always study with audio. This way, as you learn what the words look like, you will simultaneously learn what they sound like. Linking them together in this way will also help you pick the language up faster since it requires you to use multiple senses.
Knowing your own learning style is also key for figuring out how to learn French. Do you learn best by writing things down? Or are you a better listener? Doing what works best for you will cut down on the amount of time needed to go over things in order to remember them. Also, remember that self-study isn’t for everyone. Some students do best when they have a teacher to guide them through learning and there is nothing wrong with that! If you really want to learn French but just aren’t picking it up, look into hiring a tutor.
Tips for Learning French
Everyone has his or her own reasons for wanting to learn another language, but there is one key detail essential for success: passion. Learning a second language can be hard, and it takes a lot of time and effort, but luckily, there are many strategies out there that teach you how to learn French quick and easy. So stick with it and don’t give up when it gets tough, and you’ll fall in love with this Romance language. Simple as that!
Switch the language setting on your computer or smartphone to French. Look for French speakers in your city to interact with, or joining a club where you can practice your conversational French. Watching French movies or TV shows with subtitles is also a good way to immerse yourself in the language outside your usual lessons. You can also learn a lot listening to radio programs in French.
On that note, try translating into English as little as possible in the beginning. Instead, try attaching ideas to the words first and skip the step of translating. It makes your brain do extra work and can even fool you into making a mistake when a literal translation won’t work. Link the words and sentences to images and visual situations, not English words, and you’ll find yourself picking up the language even faster!
Write Your Own Phrase Book
You’ll learn French much faster by focusing on words and phrases that are relevant to you and your life. Plus, you’ll be able to talk about yourself in real conversations! Work on constructing a personalized collection of French words and phrases relevant to you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Je viens de… [I’m from…]
- Dans mon temps libre, j’aime… [In my spare time, I like…]
- Je veux apprendre le français parce que… [I want to learn French because…]
- Je suis… [I’m a…]
When collecting words and phrases for your book, group vocabulary items that are related together, as this is the same concept as learning French in context. Writing-related words as you come across them will help you connect them with one another, and you’ll find you’ll have less to memorize!
Organizing your learning in this way will keep you from getting overwhelmed. Don’t try to learn everything at once as that is an impossible task, and even most native French speakers don’t know everything about the French language. Your main objective is to understand the French language and be understood by other French speakers.
Accept Your Accent
You will sound funny at first when you learn a new language because many sounds made in different languages requires will be new to you. French, for example, includes sounds that don’t even exist in English, and if you’ve only ever spoken English, forming your lips and tongue into new shapes to make these unfamiliar sounds can be difficult at first.
Many new students of French might feel embarrassed about saying the wrong thing or making a mistake, but don’t let this hold you back. Mistakes are part of the process and are to be expected. Push through your fear by speaking French even if you feel silly doing so, and you will learn the language much faster.
Tips for Studying
There are several things you can do to fast-track your French studies. Breaking your sessions down into 25 minutes chunks promotes a better focus, allowing you to learn more in a shorter time. Repetition systems, such as flashcards, are great for memorizing vocabulary. Creating your own flashcards can help you speed up your learning of vocabulary, and you can build a deck from your personalized phrase book!
By far the most effective way to learn a language is to speak it, but finding native speakers is hard, right? It’s easy it is to find fluent French speakers near you. French is an official language in over 25 countries and it’s officially recognized in many more. No matter where you live you can still find people, both online and off, to speak French with. Here are a few websites for finding fellow French speakers.:
Conversations involve a lot more than simple exchanges of facts. Here is a real easy way to enhance your conversational skills: conversational connectors. These are short phrases that make a conversation more natural. Phrases like “Thank you for asking” “How about you?” and “I’m sorry to hear that” are all good ones to know. These connectors and others raise your French conversations to new heights and keep the other person’s interest. Your sentences will out less “raw” and you’ll find that you’re chatting longer.
Don’t Dwell on Difficulties
It’s easy to get bogged down on the difficulties you may run into when trying to figure out how to learn French. It isn’t any easier or harder to learn than other languages but you can quickly forget that if you’re focusing too much on the difficult aspects. Remember these as you learn and the tougher parts won’t seem as bad. So in what ways is French easy?
- No cases (nominative, accusative, etc) unlike Russian
- Not a tonal language, unlike many African and Asian languages
- Shares some vocabulary words with the English language
- Uses Latin alphabet
- Only has two noun genders, unlike German which has three
Whatever your reason is for learning how to learn French, it’s a good one. Everyone who has even tried learning French, even native speakers, were once beginners. If they learned to speak French fluently, then so can you. The keys to learning how to speak French are staying immersed in the language as often as possible, believing in yourself, and having fun!