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.
No, we’re not talking about knowing how to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “one beer, please” (although this is helpful, of course). We’re talking about knowing a little bit about how languages work and the basic parts of a language.
Some days, you might read along with the audio. Other days, you might re-watch the video without subtitles. If you’re feeling musical, you might set your sentences to a melody and sing them to your cat. The only rule is to review out loud often, even if you don’t do it every day.
Keep it fun. The selection process itself should be enjoyable. Look for sources you can watch multiple times in a row, and look for content that you find genuinely interesting. What film character would you most like to be for Halloween? What topics would you like to be able to discuss fluently? If you love soccer, track down some French language sporting event videos and acquire all the soccer vocabulary you’ll need to argue about teams at the bar. If you love movies starring Romain Duris (and who doesn’t?) compile your favorites. Look for language you want to make your own.
If you search “learn French” on the major search engines you will find that there are many sites offering basic language instruction. Many of these sites offer free audio and video lessons. The general structure is that these sites offer instruction in basic areas of knowledge such as counting and numbers, asking directions and common phrases.
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.
In most French-speaking countries it’s considered good manners to greet everyone. So, whether you’re speaking to a clerk, a waiter, or just bumping into someone on the street, take the time to say a polite bonjour before you proceed. This also means that when step on the bus or train you should say a quick bonjour to anyone within hearing distance.
If you’ve decided to give French a try and you’re eager to start (or continue) learning the language of liberté, egalité, and fraternité (the French national motto), here are a few hacks to learn French fast and and optimize your efforts.
Know your learning style. Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? This means do you learn best through looking at the words yourself, through hearing them spoken to you, or through listening and seeing and associating actions or feelings with them.
Learning one-on-one with a tutor allows for a completely tailored learning experience and more opportunities to practice speaking. Compared to a classroom where the teacher has to split attention among dozens of pupils, private tutoring usually yields quicker results. However, private tutoring doesn’t come cheap and you’ll need to be prepared to pay a high hourly rate for an experienced tutor.
If you want to have more “tools” added to your arsenal of French words, it’s a lot easier to continue on with a conversation. I would recommend using google, word reference, and/or a French dictionary to help you translate ANY word you stumble upon (reading, writing, or listening to the news). Follow up finding the definition with writing it down in a journal or notebook, maybe even make a correct French sentence using the word! All the extra trouble takes no longer than a minute and will allow you to retain words better. I know that in Italian, I look up words all the time, but only a small fraction of them will stick in my memory unless I write it down somewhere or use the word soon. As a little tip, reading is by far the best way to get more vocabulary and useful verbs. My mom and my friends (who don’t understand French) miraculously have the ability to understand French sentences which contain English cognates.
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.
Plus, German is a phonetic language. This means that (with very few exceptions) you know exactly how to pronounce a word when you see it spelled. Likewise, when you hear a word you can almost always write it out. English, by contrast, has all sorts of funky issues with pronunciation. “Corpse, corps, horse and worse” all sound different despite having the same “or” in the middle of them.
Other rules, especially those about the pronunciation of vowels, should be learned as you immerse yourself in the language. One tool that can help you is Pronunciator. As for intonation, one of the essential rules is that the accent of a word or phrase always bears on the last syllable or last word. To mark this difference, the penultimate syllable is weaker than the antepenultimate.
Some French videos on YouTube are really well done, and provide a fun support to learn French. So do French songs, French movies, French blogs,French podcasts, the many French apps… There is so much to choose from nowadays!
By grade three I could recite from memory the 16 French verbs that used the auxiliary verb “être”. But by grade 11 I still couldn’t speak or understand very well. Yet I eventually became fluent in French, graduated from a leading French university and have had a love affair with the language ever since. What is to be done? What advice do I have for the beginner?
Modern spoken French and the French you might have studied in books/schools are VERY different. In any language, there will always a difference in spoken vs. written form but the French really take this to the next level!
Grammar is incredibly important to learning a language. To speak it properly, you’ll need to understand how verbs work, how present, past, and future tenses work, and how genders work with nouns. We say things forward in English e.x. The bathroom, whereas the french (and the rest of the world) say things backward, taking longer to say it e.x. the room of bath.
This was typical. In fact, I was a good student, and did better than most of my classmates in French. I passed all the grammar tests and other school French tests with high marks. Yet when it came time to speak, I could only string words together with great uncertainty, and really didn’t understand what I heard. I certainly didn’t read French newspapers, which were available in Montreal. Nor did I watch French movies. I couldn’t understand them.
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He also did a ton of repetitions. He basically memorized my French audiobooks, and then had fun reproducing the dialogues but changing things around, like switching it to the past, or affirmative sentences into the negative…
Watch BFMTV; a French News channel which airs live from France nonstop,for 30 minutes to an hour EACH DAY, no exceptions. This is the same stuff French natives watch here in France (click here for BFMTV). In addition to this, listen to French music, add it to your iPod, and look at the lyrics / translations (you can find some translated songs here); attempt to read a French articles out loud to familiarize yourself with words and pronunciation (click here for some articles). Try to find French videos or simply watch your favorite English videos in French or with French subtitles! Learning French doesn’t have to be boring at all. Singing along to French songs will have you remembering useful sentence structures and acing your pronunciation. What’s better than your friends getting jealous when they are missing out on all the French fun and not understanding a word?
List each tense on a sticky note and put them somewhere you will see them often, such as your bedroom mirror or near where you eat meals. Each time you pass the area, read the notes. Soon you will have them memorized.
Learn the structure of the language. Learn how the verbs work with nouns and with each other. Things that you learn in the beginning of French make more sense as you become more proficient in the language. Look at things like how the pronunciation works.
French can seem difficult to pronounce at first, and even a little difficult to understand. It isn’t like English, Swedish or the tonal languages. French tends to roll along in a fairly monotonous range of tones. There are the nasal sounds which seem to sound the same, but aren’t.
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Don’t let the third “irregular” group scare you, though. Not only does it comprise the smallest of the three groups, it’s also considered to be a “closed-class,” meaning that all new verbs introduced into the French language are of the first two “regular” classes.
(And see how easy it actually is to learn French… even if you’ve tried and failed before) （そして英語学習がどれだけ簡単か、肌で感じてみてください…今までに失敗したことのある人でもそれが分かるでしょう） (Y vea qué tan fácil es en realidad aprender inglés… aún si lo ha intentado y fallado antes)
Your big why for learning French will keep you motivated through the ups and downs of learning a new language. It will be something to hold onto whenever you feel frustrated with learning French and start to wonder “What was I thinking?”
Very early on you need to master the precise vocabulary and the modern pronunciation of French politeness expressions. The French are known to be sticklers on etiquette and you do not want to start off on the wrong foot. Unfortunately French people will expect you to know these expressions, and they don’t realize it’s hard.
I would love to get in contact with a native speaker to practice. I have been teaching 12-14 year olds French but I am forgetting the upper level grammar. I don’t feel as fluent as I used to be. I would love to start by writing…speaking…
While some of these French dialects have drifted far from each other over the centuries, Parisian French is universally intelligible to most Francophones around the world. It is the standard for anyone who wants to learn how to speak French and join the 220 million people around the world who speak French fluently as their native or second language.
IE Languages offers an e-book on informal and spoken French that comes with numerous audio files, so you can study spoken French directly. You can also get this at a discounted rate with their combo pack, which includes the French tutorial (helpful if you’re still struggling with grammar concepts or you want a complete overview of the language).
Work with what you know. Try to select content that you already kind of understand. Choose videos that feature topics you’re well-versed on, or movies that you’ve already seen a million times in English. This way you’ll know what’s happening more or less and you’ll be able to infer meaning through the overall context. You’ll be expanding your existing French knowledge by placing it in context, while also keeping your sanity.