Welcome to French, the language of love, literature and all of those fascinating, beautiful sounds. If your French knowledge is limited to “voulez vous coucher avec moi” and you’ve decided to learn French, then we’ve got the perfect beginner’s guide for you.
Don’t forget to mimic natives! This may sound weird or silly, but if you hear something, say it out loud a few times – copying their intonation and pronunciation. My American friend would overhear French people talking and essentially mimic them, it works though because you’ll sound more and more like a native, fluent French person.
What do the methods mentioned above have in common? They all cost money. For thrifty folks who have a little more patience and motivation than the average learner, there ways to learn French for free:
Like all romance languages, French has a few difficulties for prospective speakers. There are more verb forms (17, compared to the English 12) and gendered nouns (le crayon, la table). Pronunciation is especially difficult in French, with vowel sounds and silent letters.
The word bien translates pretty, well…well into English. Like the word “well,” it can signify an overall positive state or hesitance, though not so much a deep hole in the ground. (That would be un puits, just in case you were curious.)
Dialogue is essential. Idiosyncrasies in speech are good for practice. Listen for speakers mumbling and saying “Euuuuh…” Try to make sure that most of your sources contain at least some dialogue and a lot of continuous speech. You’ll hear where they naturally omit syllables and blur speech. You’ll hear incomplete thoughts and sentences. The longer people talk without breathing, the better. This is the kind of real-world French dialogue for which you need to prepare yourself.
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).
By far the best way for rapid learning is to take a formal class. Often this means enrolling in a university, community college or language school and taking a serious course for credit taught by a professional instructor or professor. By taking a formal course you’ll get to learn the important fundamentals of the language. However, this method is difficult as my people are busy working or studying and don’t have time. For more information check out the French classes section of our website.
Your deadlines. This also plays a major role in determining how much time you should dedicate to learning. If you need to learn French as fast as possible for an upcoming trip or move, then you will need to dedicate as much time as possible to learning the language.
You might think that you can use good afternoon (bon après-midi) as a greeting the way you can in the United States, but in most French-speaking countries, bon après-midi should only be used to as a form of goodbye.
How much time you can dedicate to learning French. You should ideally set aside a little bit of time to study French every day, although this time may vary. Even just 10 minutes a day can be helpful, but keep in mind that the more time you can dedicate, the better.
French also uses an imperfect tense—the imparfait—which has only one set of endings (unlike Spanish), contains only one exception (être, meaning “to be”), and is used in exactly the same way as the Spanish imperfect. In order to form the imparfait, take the present indicative Nous form of a verb, slice off the conjugated ending, add the imparfait ending, and voilà! You’re in business.
Another romance language, Italian has the great feature of readability. Italian is written as it is spelled. For learners, reading comes fluidly once a few new phonemes are learned (like –ghi- or –ci-).
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who want to learn each other’s languages take turns as teacher and as student. For example: if you meet for two hours, you can speak in French for one hour and then switch to English for the next hour so that you both get some practice. But be aware, just because someone is a native speaker does not mean they are a good teacher. This can still be a good option once you already know some French and just want to practice, but you must be prepared to teach your counterpart English. Tandems are free for both parties, but a significant time commitment.
But what languages are the easiest to learn for English speakers? The Foreign Service Institute ranked the 9 least difficult languages for English-speaking folks. Check them out and let us know about your experience learning these languages.
Since its humble origin as a provincial dialect of Latin, French has developed into a global language, spoken in 33 countries on five continents. Beginning in the 18th century, the French empire expanded its reach, bringing its language to new colonies far from Europe. In the same way that French first emerged from Latin, dozens of distinct French dialects are now spoken around the globe: in parts of Canada and the U.S., Haiti and other Caribbean countries, most West African countries, and parts of South America and Polynesia. French is also one of the official languages in France’s neighboring countries, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
This step is crucial. Why do you want to learn French? Is it because you have family or French origins? Is it because you’re going to visit France soon? Is it because it’ll help your professional or personal endeavors? Is it because you want to read the original French text of Les Misérables or Madame Bovary? Whatever the reason, you need to take it, write it down, and place it somewhere you’ll notice often. This will be your motivation during those days you don’t feel like practicing… it’s all psychological. Without the will power or dedication, you won’t be any closer to French fluency. Especially if you’re learning French by yourself. I just started learning Italian on my own and my motivation is speaking to my girlfriend and my upcoming trip to Italy.
To get native French speakers to talk to you, you have to keep them talking. You also have to keep talking yourself. To do this, you’ll need a variety of familiar words and phrases to fall back on, including but not limited to transitional language, language for emphasis and common expressions that can be easily slipped into many conversations.
Traveling – France is one of the most pleasant countries in Europe to vacation – if you can speak French. Seek out the kinds of genuine places that are out of bounds to non-French speakers. If you get away from Paris hotels and Riviera resorts, you’ll discover that most of the country consists of farms, vineyards and small villages. The common denominator, whether you are in Provence, Champagne or Brittany, is excellent food, world-class wine and inexhaustible country charm.
Once you’re done with a video source (or part of one) give yourself a rest and then try re-watching it a month or so later. See if you can speak along with the audio, or if you can simply watch and understand what’s being said. This last part of the method is not only important for tracking your progress, but continuing it. Keeping familiarity with source material after you’ve already learned it will help build and maintain a base for fluency.
As in English, the consistency between written and spoken French is rather weak, which means that learning how to write and read in French doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to master the spoken language. That’s why it’s a good idea to get familiar with French sounds before moving forward to the second stage and studying writing.
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If you want to expand your knowledge of French, you will need to know that there are other tenses. Don’t fret; the tenses need not be learned just yet. Conjugating is also what helps you get to know whether you will be looking, you are looking, you looked, you are going to look, you would look, and so on and so forth.
Whether you are going to spend a few days with friends for a leisure trip or if you are on a business trip, nothing will be more useful to you than to be able to slip a few words in the language of your interlocutors, who will appreciate your effort and will be certainly more willing to help.
I already have a very good basis in french I never regarded the pronounciation as a monster to conquer actually its the most delicate thing that attracted me to want to master french my problem is that I have a big lack and shortage of vocab. That stands as a barrier of getting to be fluent en français also the structure of the phrases and daily expressions which turns out to be less complex than a phrase I try to come up with using my humble list of vocabs
At this stage, I will of course suggest you’d take a look at my audiobooks to learn French if you are not already familiar with them. I’ve poured my 20 years experience of teaching French to adults into this method, which will prepare you for both traditional and modern spoken French.
Learn pronunciation. This is especially important with French, where to English speakers, the written words look nothing like the spoken language. For instance, French has vowels like “eau” which is pronounced “o” or “oi” which is pronounced “wa.” You will need to know how these pronunciations work.
Free online software like DuoLingo exists to help you learn French! Otherwise, use software such as Fluenz French or Pimsleur to supplement your French language endeavors. Learning aids can be anywhere from nicely affordable ($20) to top-notch expensive ($500). Let it be known, that usually the increase in price is merited by a better product. I do not endorse Rosetta Stone for learning French, check this article to see why: Fluenz French versus Rosetta Stone French.
From a practical standpoint, I’ve found that anytime I’m at a loss for the right French word, coating an English word in a heavy French accent is a surprisingly effective strategy. I remember during my first week in French class, I was trying to say that a certain French word exists in English but has a different meaning.
Mastering this language is also a matter of correctly reproducing phonemes and intonation (the « melody »). Here are some instructions to introduce you to the pronunciation of the 20 to 21 consonants and 11 to 16 vowels of the French
“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
So if you want to be able to speak French, you must train with audio. But not any audio: the speed is essential, and should be adapted to your level, as should the content. Never train with something too challenging.
Another idea is to find your favorite books in French. This will help keep your interest and will help you decipher the text since you already know the plot. It’s good to start simple, since a too-challenging book at the start of your learning will only frustrate you.
As a teacher for adults, I am often surprised to see that my students have forgotten how to study. So, here are some pointers for people who want to learn French to speak and communicate, not only to pass exams.
There are a lot of languages out there sharing common traits with English, which is great news when it comes to language study. When familiar structure or vocabulary is in place, the learning process becomes faster and easier. Hence my friend, the nonchalant polyglot.
Another method is “scriptorium,” developed by Alexander Arguelles, which involves writing sentences while speaking them out loud. The method I’m going to share with you now uses elements of both of those and adds video to the mix.
“Accord du verbe. In French, the past participles in compound tenses and moods sometimes have to agree with another part of the sentence, either the subject or the direct object. It’s a lot like adjectives: when a agreement is required, you need to add e for feminine subjects/objects and s for plural ones.”
You can guess some words out of the context, but the idea here is not to train your understanding capacity, but train your speaking ability: work on your pronunciation, memorize common sentences and expressions, get the courage to speak out loud.