In Afrikaans, there is no conjugation of verbs (write, wrote, written), gender (think gato or gata in Spanish) or pronouns (my, mine; who, whose). In other words, you’ll hardly be a grammar slave if you take up this logical language.
Believe it or not, you actually already know some French words before you even begin studying it. While a foreign language 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.
If you want to start learning French from the bottom up, you’ve come to the right place! Lawless French for Beginners is a self-study course divided into 30 loosely themed units consisting of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation lessons; cultural tips; and assorted listening exercises and quizzes along the way. Keep reading for some info and advice on making the most of this course, or go straight to the lessons.
Never heard of it? It’s spoken by less than half a million people in the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. It wasn’t included on the list because Frisian is rarely studied as a second language, so finding a textbook or tutor outside the North Sea would be near impossible.
Even before you think about which materials to study, or your method for learning German, you need to take a step back and understand your underlying reason for wanting to speak German. This is your Big Why.
One word of warning, though: if you really want to get useful grammar and vocabulary, make sure that what you’re reading, watching or listening to is modern and in a dialect that you would like to learn.
According to the FSI, the closer a language is to your native language (in this case, probably English), the faster you will learn that language. They divided their findings into three basic language categories based on the languages’ similarity to English, which determined how long it took learners to reach general professional proficiency or higher:
As for the other tenses, anyone who’s learned Spanish will be relieved to find out that there are fewer tenses in French than in Spanish. In modern French, for example, the most frequently used past-tense construction is the passé composé, a compound tense composed of the verb avoir (meaning “to have”) or être (meaning “to be”) followed by the past participle of the conjugated verb.
Add to that the fact that the third person singular On form is usually used in place of the first person plural, and you don’t even have to think about changing the pronunciation for the majority of verb forms in the present indicative.
I have seen people approach lists of vocabulary by looking at the French and seeing if they can understand the English; this is good to build your understanding of French, but not your speaking ability.
However, most of us cannot just watch a technical video of how to run, or read a list of tips on how to become a good runner, and just go ahead and run 5 miles. It takes practice, and it’s likely to take time and effort.
Along with many of the French words that migrated into English came vestiges of their former pronunciations. Consider words and expressions like montage, déjà vu, bourgeois, comprise, brochure, filet mignon, chauffeur, lingerie, and encore. Without knowing it, you actually use many of the sounds found in French regularly.
In fact, you should get in the habit of Googling whenever you have a question about French, including grammar issues. It is far more effective to search for an answer to something that you have noticed in the language, that you are curious about, rather than having a teacher push an explanation at you.
Try and make sure your learning time is free of distractions and your workspace is organized. Schedule short breaks to keep yourself motivated when you’re in the middle of long study sessions. Most importantly, have fun with it!
If you are lost when you see “conjugate,” conjugating is this: the verb regarder means “to look,” in french. If you want to say “I am looking,” or “I look,” you write “Je regarde,” because when you take off the ending of the verb (which for this case is -er) in the Je form (Je means I), you replace it with “e.” Now, if you wish to say “They are looking,” or “We are looking,” you will need a different ending.
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.
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.
Once you’ve said that you’re fine, or good, or so-so, it is customary to ask how the other person is doing. You can do this easily by saying Et toi? (And you? ) or Et vous? (And you? ).
Learning a language is a complex process that is different for each individual based on several different factors. Let’s take a look at these different factors and how they impact how fast you learn French.
In the early stages of your learning I strongly suggest to listen to the language as much as possible. This means getting your ears used to the sound of the language and not worrying too much about vocabulary memorization or mastering grammar rules – these come later!
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.
Listen to things in French. Put on some French music, or your favorite movie dubbed in French. Seek out French cinema, and French television shows and radio stations. Practice imitating what you’re hearing.
learn french fast
learn to speak french
french for beginners
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).
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.
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.)
Considering French is considered by some to be among the world’s “hardest languages” (yes, seriously, Parisians will insist on this; luckily, you’ll get a lot more encouragement in the rest of France, Belgium, Switzerland and definitely in Quebec), I think a change in attitude is in order, so that those of you learning this language can get a bit of encouragement!
Growing up in Montreal in the 1950s I had French every day at school – elementary school and high school – starting from grade two. After ten years, as I entered McGill University at the age of 17, I couldn’t hold a conversation in French and had great trouble understanding the language.
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?