For Business – being bilingual isn’t just good for your resumé, it can change your career. As a major language for global commerce, knowing some French can be extremely advantageous for anyone doing business in western Europe or the western half of Africa. Countries in West Africa represent rapidly emerging markets that will be harder to access if you can’t understand French. In Europe, French remains an important language for many businesses.
My “Big Why” is an unquantifiable passion for languages. It isn’t something measurable like “So I can speak to X number of people in the world”, but it has to do with enriching my life with friendships and experiences, which you can’t really measure.
I’d like to share six steps to help you learn how to speak German. This is the language hacker’s approach to learning German, so give these steps a try and you’ll be speaking German faster than you ever thought possible.
While those of us who are very experienced in the language will have a lot to say about it (I used to translate French professionally for instance), we can forget what it’s like for those who are starting off, and it’s why I think Zack did a great job summarizing how it isn’t that bad, despite having learnt the language for such a short time. As such this is a nice guide for those of you just starting to learn French, especially if you dabbled in Spanish in school first.
Still others can give you clues as to what you shouldn’t pronounce, including faux pas, buffet, coup, and laissez-faire. Even the dreaded liaison rears its ugly head in the words vis-à-vis (pronounced “vee-zah-vee”) and bon appétit (pronounced “baw na-pey-tee”).
Believe it or not, you already know some French words even before you even start studying it. While French may seem like “Greek” to you, the majority of foreign languages actually share some words or roots of words. These words that look or sound like words in your language and have the same meaning are called cognates.
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You’re probably noticing a pattern. There’s no getting around it, ça is a word that comes up over and over in French conversation. Trying to talk without it is like trying to prepare a three-course meal without a knife.
The top ten most common French words are: être (to be, being), avoir (to have), je (I), de (of, from, by, than, in, with), ne (not), pas (not; step, pace), le (the; him, it (referring to a masculine singular noun)), la (the; her, it (referring to a feminine singular noun)), tu (you), vous (you, yourself).
Your New Year’s Resolution may be to “learn French,” but what does that actually mean? Vague final goals like this are both frustrating and unproductive. After all, how will you know when–and if–this goal is ever achieved? Instead, try making some SMART goals.
French, Belgian and African Cultures, Unfiltered – The French-speaking world is responsible for gorgeous (and delicious) arts and culture. Whether you want to explore the wine region of Bordeaux, learn to dance Sabar in Dakar, tour Belgium’s famous breweries or learn how to really cook confit de canard, speaking the language will let you participate more directly. Knowing French will also give you unfiltered access to the films of the French New Wave, the literature of Flaubert, Balzac and Proust; and the music of Édith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg. And if you are among the 10 million Franco-Americans who can’t speak French, learning the language will turn your window onto your heritage into a doorway.
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I bet you don’t talk like this in your native language. More likely, you enrich the information you communicate by adding phrases to show your mood or level of politeness, or to simply transition smoothly between topics.
On average, many speakers are considered fluent in a language by the time they’ve reached a B2 level or higher. This is a level which allows them to comfortably interact in almost all social situations.
Grammatically, Portuguese is similar to other Romance languages. There are fewer prepositions in Portuguese than in English (easy to remember!) However, their uses don’t always have direct parallels in English (easy to mix up).
Also, sounds appear to melt together from the last syllable of one word to the beginning syllable of the next word. These are things you have to get used to as a beginner. You have to be aware of these things, notice them, and eventually you will get used to them. Trust me.
Living Abroad – When you speak French well enough to travel without a phrasebook in hand, the idea of staying longer in another country can become tempting. Cities like Paris, Brussels and Lyon offer opportunities for students looking for a semester abroad; professionals may find the next big thing in growing economies like Algeria, Tunisia and Côte d’Ivoire; and retirees who appreciate the good things in life continue to be drawn to the south of France.
Change your computer’s operating language to French. Change your Facebook to French now. Change you cellphone, iPod, or iPhone to French. Change your google web browser to the French one. Change your homepage to a French site like fr.yahoo.com. Hell, change your TV to French. You get the idea yet? One word of advice though, when you change the language settings… remember how you did it so you can always change it back if you need to. Everybody who picks up my phone seems impressed that it’s in another language (or very confused). This helps to learning French fast.
“David is clearly a very experienced and knowledgeable teacher. He places emphasis on pronunciation and encourages me to recall my vocabulary in a way that is useful for speaking French day-to-day. His French lessons via Skype are both fun and interesting, and he adapts on-the-fly, so that he can always challenge me at the appropriate level.” Maria, Cambridge, UK” Maria, Cambridge, UK
When in doubt, check out how babies learn things, they do it best. I’m afraid you’ll have to dive right into the nightmare if you want to train your ear. If you can’t hear people talking directly or you prefer to take steps, it can be done with movies/series/games in French, with french subs. Reading while listening helps a lot. After this, try some french YouTube videos.
Consider this sentence in French – made up almost entirely of French-English cognates: L’ancien restaurant est à proximité du musée d’art. The cognates for “restaurant”, “museum” and “art” are virtually unchanged. Stretch your brain a bit and you might notice that ancien looks like “ancient” and proximité looks a lot like “proximity”; the simpler alternatives to these words are “old” and “near”. Put it all together and you get: The old restaurant is near the art museum.
This is a great way to see what it’s like to learn French online, how the lessons and activities work, and figure out how learning French can fit into your life. You can even try it out as a guest with no email, credit card or obligation required. And did we mention it’s free?
Almost all European languages share countless cognates with English thanks to their shared roots, history, and evolution. Take the English words “identification,” “attention,” and “direction,” for example. The very same words exist in French with the very same ending and just a slightly different pronunciation.