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.
I told you, becoming fluent in French fast requires a lot of work on your part. I happen to have some French family but this is not the case for everybody. But you can make French friends. Having them is a great way to improve your language skills.
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.
Thus, new words like googliser, textoter, and téléviser take the regular forms. Even among the irregular verbs, you’ll be able to pick up on patterns that make their conjugations fairly predictable. Also remember that, as was the case with the –er verbs, the verb forms of the irregular verbs are pronounced mostly the same, though there are some exceptions.
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“David is clearly a very experienced and knowledgeable teacher. He places emphasis on pronunciation and encourages me to recall my vocabulary in a way that is useful for speaking French day-to-day. His French lessons via Skype are both fun and interesting, and he adapts on-the-fly, so that he can always challenge me at the appropriate level.” Maria, Cambridge, UK” Maria, Cambridge, UK
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Danish is said to be the hardest Scandinavian language to learn because of its speaking patterns. It is generally spoken more quickly and more softly than other Scandinavian languages. Danish is also flatter and more monotonous than English.
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.
Babbel’s French course is affordable, accessible online and via mobile devices, and proven to strengthen your reading, listening, speaking and comprehension skills. As a Babbel user, you have access to a diverse program of grammar, conjugation, pronunciation, listening comprehension and writing exercises. You can practice online or via your iPhone or Android device. Whether you are too busy for a language class, a complete beginner, needing to brush up before a vacation or business trip, or wanting to re-learn everything you forgot in high school, Babbel can be customized to your needs.
Native speakers won’t be shy about correcting you, and the more you speak and make adjustments, the more natural it will become. There are some great French online courses that will get you speaking quickly, and don’t worry if your pronunciation is a little off, or if you forget how to conjugate such and such verb, or if you forget which preposition to use. Just remember: everyone starts off speaking any language they learn like a baby.
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.
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.
Likewise, 2 months, 2 weeks, or 10 days isn’t really indicative of the amount of time and work you need to put in to learn French. These timelines are merely attention-grabbers that aren’t promising you “instant skills,” but are rather promising the basics in as short a time as possible. This can be done through the use of learner-friendly teaching methods and by teaching you the most practical vocabulary and grammar first. It will, however, take much more time to be able to fully converse in French in a variety of different situations.
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.
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.
Of course, some part of learning French is going to be fun. Students who learn with my French learning audio method À Moi Paris say it is fun: the learning revolves around lively characters, and their story progresses through the audiobooks, getting more complex as your level of French increases.
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.
The subjunctive is used when there is uncertainty about whether something is going to happen, as in “you have to go”, “I want you to go”, “although you went” etc. Begin by noticing the subjunctive. Don’t worry about whether you can get it right when speaking or writing. Save the subjunctive form of verbs when you think you might have come across it at LingQ. Check it out in Le Conjugueur or in another conjugating dictionary like Context Reverso. Both of these dictionaries are available at LingQ.
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).
Now that you have some realistic goals in mind, it’s time to make a study plan. A study plan will help you to organize and maximize your time, keep motivated, set goals, and make sure your brain gets the repetition and structure it needs.
Time for another video in Chinese! This is actually part of the summer project of improving many languages, and as such it is the first in a series of many interviews with natives of the languages in my list of 10. Yang Yang works as the Mandarin speaking presenter for the TV show “Hello Hollywood”.
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.
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.
Your deadlines. This also plays a major role in determining how much time you should dedicate to learning. If you need to learn French as fast as possible for an upcoming trip or move, then you will need to dedicate as much time as possible to learning the language.
If you think that’s confusing, you’re right. The good news is that when you meet someone for the first time, you can usually just shake hands. Then just watch how other people interact. Because it’s such a common practice, you should quickly be able to determine what the standard is where you’re staying.
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!
Like all Romance languages, French’s Latin derivations make much of the vocabulary familiar to English speakers (edifice, royal, village). Linguists debate the concrete number, but it’s said that French has influenced up to a third of English vocabulary, giving it more lexical common ground with English than any other romance language.
English is historically a Germanic language, but after the Norman Invasion in 1066, French became the official language of the nobility for over 300 years. As a result, several thousand French words trickled down into common English usage. By the time of Shakespeare, English had transformed into a truly hybrid language with French words accounting for half of English vocabulary. There are the obvious transplants like rendezvous, femme fatale, and croissant, but you might be surprised to learn that thousands of ordinary English words come from French. Without even exploring the rest of the alphabet, French has given us the words action, affection, agriculture, alligator, amusement, application, architecture, and attitude.
Things often seem like a big deal when they’re really not. You can use this to quickly disarm a tense situation in which someone thinks you’re upset with them, or just to comfort someone who’s having a hard time. Notice that the n’ is usually left off in spoken French.
During the four hundred years that followed, a dialect of French known as Anglo-Norman became the language of the crown, the educated elite, the ruling administration and the justice. Even today, the Queen’s assent, which must be given to legislation passed by parliament in order to become law, is still issued in French. How cool is that!
One thing I recommend insofar as pronunciation is concerned, is to get used to making the ‘euh’ sound. “Je”, “le” “me” etc., and the unaccented “e” at the end of words. There are lots of ‘euh’ in French. The French use “euh” the way English speakers use “aah” or “umm”, as a spacer or breather between words or phrases. You kind of have to pick up on that as soon as you can and have it flow through your 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).
Online learning has made immense progress in the past several years and has become a viable alternative to more traditional forms of instruction. It’s becoming the norm for people with very little time or money to spare who still want to make progress with their learning. Compared to the above method, subscription-based online programs are always updating, improving and adding courses that don’t require buying a new module.
Story is context, and context is key. Once you have your source material, arrange it into usable segments. If you’re using a movie, try not to break it up mid-scene or leave out a lot of content between sentences. Aside from this, you can use as much or as little of each source as you like. I might advise against designating the French-language Lord of the Rings box set as your one and only source, but if you’re really determined then I wish you luck on your journey.
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.
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.
Now I’ll admit that the French “r” and nasal sounds will probably take some practice and getting used to, but the best advice I received—from my Lonely Planet phrasebook, nonetheless—was just to go for the most stereotypical French accent I possibly could. Try it—it actually works!
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.