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.
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.
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!
If you are a real self-starter then you don’t need more than a French grammar book, dictionary and some vocab books to get started with French. Books could get you reading French after lots of studying, but won’t help with listening comprehension or speaking.
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.
The easiest advice to give is that people should develop a passion for French. I once wrote a long blog post about why I think people should learn French. I called it Why learn French? Six Reasons. Easy advice to give, but a lot more difficult to put into practice. People develop interests and passions for internal, personal reasons. The fact that I became passionate about French is no reason others will. However to quote another French saying “l’appetit vient en mangeant”. (Appetite comes with eating). You might want to give French a start. As I said at the start of my article on reasons to learn French,
French grammar may at first seem strange to an English-speaker, but its rules are actually easier and less irregular than English grammar. Once you have a handle on French grammar, the rules are effectively unchanged for Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Since they are all derived from Latin, the Romance languages have several grammatical rules in common: adjectives come after the noun they modify, all verbs are conjugated, the subject-verb order is inverted when asking a question, and all nouns have a gender designation. Being familiar with one Romance language will allow you to pick up others more easily.
All languages present some difficulties for a learner. A language is at the heart of the behaviour of another culture, and a form of expressing our thoughts and feelings that has developed in ways different from what we are used to. We need motivation to stay on course, in order to get used to the new patterns of that language.
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!
There are even conjugating dictionaries like Le Conjugueur. This is one of dictionaries that you can use at LingQ. Don’t rely on memorization. Keep reading and listening. Look things up when you are stumped and stay focussed on things of interest.
When you see question words in your reading at LingQ, save them. You should do this not only to remember these words, but because the LingQ system will give you lots of examples of these words in use. The examples usually come from lessons you have already studied. The advantage of looking at examples from lessons you have already studied is that you probably know the words. Very often, if you’re reading in a grammar book you are provided with examples, where you don’t know the words. That’s not so helpful.
Almost all European languages share countless cognates with English thanks to their shared roots, history, and evolution. Take the English words “identification,” “attention,” and “direction,” for example. The very same words exist in French with the very same ending and just a slightly different pronunciation.
Another ça phrase in the neighborhood of ça va, ça marche can just be generally used to check if someone is okay with something. You can also say “comment ça marche?” to ask how something works (like a vending machine or a cell phone).
Learn how to ask for help. This is important particularly if you need the other speaker to speak more slowly or to repeat themselves. Make sure to look up the individual words while you’re practicing, as the English translation and the French meaning can be different.
For Business – being bilingual isn’t just good for your resumé, it can change your career. As a major language for global commerce, knowing some French can be extremely advantageous for anyone doing business in western Europe or the western half of Africa. Countries in West Africa represent rapidly emerging markets that will be harder to access if you can’t understand French. In Europe, French remains an important language for many businesses.
This is especially true with speaking French. French includes sounds that don’t even exist in English. When you’ve only ever spoken one language, forming your lips and tongue into new shapes to make unfamiliar sounds can feel jarring, like hearing a wrong note in a well-known song.
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.
Find a penpal, or skype buddy who speaks French as their native language. There are lots of programs over the internet or through colleges and local language schools that can set people up with people who speak French.
Your American/British friends count as resources! If they know French, speak to them in French… speak, speak, speak! I speak to one of my American co-workers in French and we have amazing conversations in a completely different language. It’s fun, and it allows you to find the weaknesses in your conversational ability.
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.
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?”
Learn to conjugate the verbs. Try to remember that verbs in french need to be conjugated according to their pronouns; there are three different conjugations, because there are three different kinds of verbs: verbs that end in -ir, -er, and -re.
Interesting. While technically French was my first foreign language, I hadn’t studied it until last year, though I had been in touch with it since I was a kid (both my parents had studied French language in college).
Some websites offer free interactive learning material, like Duolingo and Memrise, but programs like these focus on writing and reading at the expense of listening and speaking. They also rely heavily on user-generated content, which means the quality is inconsistent and the accuracy of the information goes unverified. It’s possible to learn French online for free, but be prepared to deal with language lessons that are dull, inflexible, too basic, poorly designed, or else littered with ads.
I have touched lightly on some of what you will find in French. Don’t put these things up front. Don’t think that the mass of grammar rules need to be mastered before you can enjoy the language. That is what they did to me in school. It was when I broke away from that, and immersed myself in content of interest, reading, listening, watching movies, and conversing with people, that I started to fall in love with French. That stimulated my motivation, reduced my frustration, and induced me to spend the time necessary to achieve fluency in this lovely language, “mon premier amour” among languages.
Cheek kissing is another common type of greeting in most French-speaking countries. However, the rules for cheek kisses can be complicated matter. The rules change depending on the country you’re in and even the region of the country. For example, in Belgium, it’s customary to greet everyone in your generation or younger with one kiss, but anyone that’s a generation or more older than you should be given three kiss (right cheek-left-then right again). In Paris, most people stick to a four-kiss rule, but in most of the rest of France, two kisses is the norm.
In years of constantly comparing the many successful vs unsuccessful language learners to see what really makes them different, I can share another huge realisation with you today. Many of the major questions most people start asking themselves in language learning are, in my opinion, things that should be coming much later in the priority
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.
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
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.
Try your first French lesson for free and discover Babbel’s easy and intuitive course system which determines your individual level and accommodates different learning styles. You can learn at your own pace, set your own lesson plans and receive helpful hints whenever you need them. You will also be joining an entire community of learners. Babbel users can easily share questions, experiences and advice via message boards and chat, and the Babbel support team is always only a message away. Take the test to see your current level of French.
Here’s an example of how they work. When someone asks you “How is your hotel room?” instead of answering with “um … good”, which pretty much ends things right on the spot, you might add in phrases and expressions to create a more organic feel to what you are saying. You could say: “To tell the truth, that is a good question. The hotel room is good. Thanks for asking. How is your hotel room?” . This is exactly the same answer with conversational connectors added in.
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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.
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.
No great achievement ever happens overnight, and learning French is no different. The first step to learn French is to make some smart, realistic goals to help yourself organize your time and plan your studies.