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.
I have been learning french for the past few years and feel I am making good progress…except when it comes to understanding spoken french. I can make myself understood in french but am generally lost if they respond with anything more than a few words. What do think is the best way to improve comprehension in french – is it particularly difficult or just me?
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.
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.
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:
Famous Hungarian polyglot Kato Lomb once said that language learning success is a function of motivation plus time divided by inhibition. I would use the word resistance instead of inhibition. A person’s inhibition is only one form of resistance to learning a language. Frustration with teaching methods is another, and in some ways more important form of resistance.
What’s it really like giving up your mother tongue? If you’ve read my last update you’ll know that I gave up speaking English for 30 days to focus on only speaking German. My goal was to reach the B2 level by the time the Cologne Carnival came around. As I write this, I’m in the
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…
As a language nerd, I’m a big fan of Benny Lewis, whose “Speak from Day One” approach should be, I think, language-learning gospel. He’s written several posts about why learning Czech, Turkish, German, Mandarin Chinese, Hungarian, and other languages is not as hard as you think. His point is that with the right attitude and approach, learning a new language—despite what detractors might claim—is never as difficult a task as it’s often made out to be.
Speak in French. This is one of the most important components to learning French. You have to speak the language, even if you feel embarrassed by how little you know. Everyone starts off not speaking well, but with practice you’ll improve.
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.
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.
Click on the menu and pick a lesson. Vocabulary by theme, a step by step method to aquire the vocabulary you really need to have a conversation. Easy to understand, grammar with videos always easy. For grammar: click here! Learning French is easy with the correct method and enough time, here you will find audio files to improve your pronunciation, many activities. In little time you will be able to start a conversation.
On top of that, many parts of German grammar are the same as English since they are both part of the Germanic family of languages. Older Anglo-Saxon texts are particularly close to the German language. Even more recent classics, such as Shakespeare, are closer to the German roots of English.
Reading, watching and listening has a remarkable effect on your brain. Simply by being exposed to French, your brain is put to work. It starts trying to understand new words by making connections to previously learned words and seeks to make sense of any new structures. Basically, you’re learning without knowing that you’re learning.
French Today has lessons and audiobooks that focus on teaching French the way it’s actually spoken first and foremost. Using their materials, you can become familiar with grammar and vocabulary concepts while also developing an understanding of what that grammar and vocabulary really sounds like in action.
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.
Why is that some people are worse language learners no matter how hard they work? Among the many emails/tweets and in-person comments I get about those who have tried and failed to learn languages, what comes up more often than not is something along the lines of “I know that I can’t ever learn French/German/Chinese
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.
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.
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.
When in doubt, disavow all knowledge! This phrase can be used to get out of an uncomfortable discussion, or just to honestly proclaim your ignorance on a subject. You will usually hear this phrase spoken without the n’.
One great element of the language is that interrogatives are beautifully easy, expressed by intonation alone (“You love me?”) If you can say it in Portuguese, you can ask it. What’s more, in Brazilian Portuguese, there’s one catchall question tag form: não é.
You’ll learn French much faster if you focus on words and phrases that are relevant to your life. Plus, when you have real conversations in French (I’ll come to that in a moment), you’ll be able to talk about yourself.
Conjugate verbs properly. Again as a basic french learner, learn to conjugate the verbs properly. If you’re going to write the verb as it is then the whole sentence goes wrong or sometimes becomes meaningless.
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.
Another ça phrase for good measure. This phrase has a more specific usage, as it usually falls into the category of making plans. Plans are important because they mean more opportunities for conversation! You don’t want to miss or misunderstand someone asking if you want to hang out again.
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Standard French contains 13 oral vowels and up to 4 nasal vowels, but it only has 5 different letters for all these sounds. Crazy right? But don’t freak out, it’s just a matter of studying a little bit, listening to a ton of French, and repeating the sounds until your tongue hurts.
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?”
This method is so obvious, I kind of didn’t want to include it to the list. If you don’t know what immersion is, click on the following link where I beautifully describe it in another article: Immersion in France. Essentially immersion is moving yourself to a francophone area for some time. Immersion will have you speaking French so fast you won’t believe it, however you must avoid other English speakers as if they have the plague (including the French people who want to practice their English with you)!
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We add new courses on a regular basis so the opportunities to learn and improve are always growing. And if you own an iPhone, Android, or Windows 8 phone the key to speaking French is already in your pocket.
There are plenty of language courses that will teach you how to deal with specific situations, like asking for directions or ordering dinner. These situations are strictly controlled, though, and so are the resulting conversations.
For people with money to burn on learning a language, but not enough time to commit to traditional methods, multimedia courses are a good alternative – whether you practice listening and speaking with CDs in the car, or use interactive courses on your home PC in your free time. The main drawback to these methods is high up-front cost and material that can quickly become outdated.
“If you live with people and you share a life with them and you speak their language, they trust you.” – Peter Rohloff, MD, Wuqu’ Kawoq (Maya Health Alliance) I have always found languages to be beautiful. Having learned to speak seven languages – some of them fluently, and others at a more basic level
Asking how someone is doing is a common greeting in the U.S. How many times a day do we hear or say these brief greetings at the beginning of our conversations? So many times, in fact, that half the time, we don’t even pay attention. These pleasantries are common in French-speaking countries as well.
French grammar, explained in a way you can actually understand. Many English speakers have not studied grammar in school, so the method shouldn’t expect them to know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, or what a direct object pronoun is.
So now that you’re armed with language that can be applied to all kinds of conversations, go out and start having some of those conversations! If you’re not in a situation yet where you can talk to native speakers, you’ll at least be able to start listening for these words and phrases in video content or on the radio, which will help you be that much more ready when the time comes!
Many polyglots (folks who know more than one language) swear by the “shadowing” technique for learning a language quickly. Go outside and put your headphones on. While you play the language, walk briskly. As you’re walking repeat out loud and clearly what you’re hearing. Repeat, march, repeat. This will help you connect movement with the language and to retrain your focus so that you aren’t obsessing about memorization.
Love the way RS works. It’s simple, logical, and builds up language skills in a progressive and effective manner. When used along with all the online tools – particularly the online live sessions, learning becomes a breeze.
First of all, anything is possible with the right method, motivation and dedication. Some language programs will definitely prepare you with practical language elements within the timeframe they promise, but you will definitely not be fluent. You won’t be able to talk with anyone about absolutely anything in French, but you will know some of the basics that can help you survive in France without being completely lost.
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.
I will most definitely take your advice. I am learning French at school and I’m not doing too well at all. We had exams earlier this month and I am sure that I failed because I did not finish the papers. The rest of the students did and so I felt stupid and wanted to just quit the class. My teacher said my biggest problem is my lack of vocabulary since the way that I speak is quite nice. Reading this article though has just given me the extra push that I need to stick with it. I really believe that I can do it now. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂
It’s all about the level. According to the European Common Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), a guideline used to define language achievements, there are three basic language level groups broken down into two levels each.
Learning a new language requires learning a lot of new words. There’s no way around it. However, we have some comforting news for you: you don’t need to know all–or even the majority–of the words in a language to be able to speak it well. In fact, you don’t even need to know half!
Finally, the cliché saying that “practice makes perfect” has never been more true than in the language learning world. Learning French involves a lot of practice, but there are a few great tips to practice without even needing a passport.
One downside to using free French learning sites is that the number of lessons are limited. They tend to lack interactive functions such as testing the accuracy of your pronunciation. Furthermore, they tend to lack the full variety of lessons that would be found in a more formal online course. Thus, I strongly suggest considering using an a software package or online French course such as Rocket French.
Gaeilge Gaeilge, Irish, or “Irish Gaelic” is the national and first official language of Ireland, as well as one of the
Staying abroad is the best way to progress quickly and to consolidate your knowledge. How to find your school and organize your stay? We suggest that you discover an organization that takes care of everything for you: