There are hundreds of ways to learn French for free on the web. From French grammar wikis to online courses, there’s no shortage of information out there, but it’s often presented in a cluttered and inconsistent way that’s harder to read than a grammar book.
Whether you need to increase your learning speed due to a life event or frustration with your current progress, rest assured that you can. If you hear someone speaking French on the television and think “I wish I could talk like that,” stop right there.
This situation persists to today. The ability of English Canadians to converse in French remains low and recently has even declined. Kids are not learning French at schools, despite a tremendous effort at teaching verb conjugations, reflexive verbs, verb agreement and all the other fine points of French grammar to uninterested little learners. Or is it precisely because of how it is taught?
You’ll be one of many fellow French language learners. French is also the second most widely taught language other than English throughout the world. It’s taught on nearly every continent. This means that there are many, many French learning resources out there and you’ll have a wide network of other French language learners for support.
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? ).
When you read, whether out loud or silently, think about what the sentences express. If your sentences are from a movie, imagine yourself as the characters. Try acting out both sides of a dialogue, complete with gestures and facial expressions. You might not want to do this in the break room at work, but you get the idea.
Your resources. What resources do you have available? Fortunately, we have more French learning resources at our fingertips than ever before. Take advantage of as many resources as possible when making your study plan. The more interactive and fun, the better!
Consider your current level of French. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to fully understand native speakers, you’ll want to consider video sources that are accompanied by a transcript, subtitles or a “cheat sheet.” Many popular French learning podcasts offer transcripts for their listeners. All of FluentU’s French language videos have interactive subtitles which allow you to see every single word’s definition on-screen, if desired. These kinds of resources are ideal if you need help while watching videos. You’ll still want to try without looking, but this way you can check yourself and make sure you’re not getting things mixed up in your mind. If in doubt, play it safe. French as a language uses a lot of similar sounds and it’s easy to mistake certain combinations of words for others.
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’.
The language is structurally similar to Danish, but with pronunciation more familiar to English speakers. Norwegian, like Swedish, uses a tonal “pitch accent” to distinguish homonyms, stressing either the first or second syllable of the word. It’s an easy concept to grasp: think “decent” and “descent” in English.
You will slowly get more and more used to the conditional and the subjunctive. Continue your enjoyable discovery of French, through listening and reading, and your confidence in this seemingly scary looking verb forms will gradually grow.
Odds are, they’ll love it and want to help you. Don’t let fear get in your way. Interact in French as much as possible, and you’ll be amazed by the results. You can also find some great French learning hacks here to help you out along the way.
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.
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.
Some people are intimidated by these verb forms or moods in French, without realizing that we have the same patterns in English. The English conditional, of course, revolves around the word “if”, as in the sentence “I would go if…” etc. The same is true in French with the word “si”. Type some “if” sentences in English into Google Translate to see how French deals with this issue.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.)
The moment a native French speaker starts to speak with her about something that isn’t the way to the bathroom, how she’s doing, or what she would like to order, she’s stuck. She speaks enough to get by, but not enough to fluently communicate. While she may “speak French,” I probably wouldn’t recommend that she puts it on her resume just yet.
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Browsing italki. italki is my go-to place to find native German speakers. The prices are reasonable (especially compared to private, face-to-face lessons) and you can meet in the comfort of your own home.
Learn greetings and goodbyes. These are useful phrases and words to start with, since most people begin their interaction, and end their interaction in similar ways. The “zh” in the following pronunciation guides sounds like “j” and “sh” mixed together.
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.
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Instead of simply saying “I want to learn French this year,” set goals like “I want to be able to order in French at a nearby French restaurant by the end of the month,” or “I want to have an A2 level of French by March.” These are more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound and realistic goals.