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.
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.
The conversational connectors in the dialogue above are “Thanks for asking”, “How about you?”, “Actually”, “To be honest” and “I’m sorry to hear that”. These are phrases that people use over and over in their daily conversations, no matter what the topic.
Because Immersion is not practical for many people; language courses are the 2nd best way to learn French. Courses provided through your high school, local college, accredited university, or French Universities all are effective ways towards fluency. Honestly, 6-months of “intensive” French courses will have you getting started effectively and quickly.
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
Learn pronunciation. This is especially important with French, where to English speakers, the written words look nothing like the spoken language. For instance, French has vowels like “eau” which is pronounced “o” or “oi” which is pronounced “wa.” You will need to know how these pronunciations work.
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.
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.
Aiming for a B2 level of a language is therefore a more specific and results-focused goal, and, thanks to the criteria provided by the Common European Framework of Reference, it’s also measureable. It’s much more attainable than aiming for the vague notion of “fluency” (which, seems to elude even fluent speakers!). It can easily be made time-bound by keeping in mind the criteria needed for each level and making yourself a schedule with your goals in mind.
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.
Ben is a variation on bien that has become very common. As with bien, it can be used to indicate hesitance or also emphasis. If you think about it, “well” can also be used this way to some extent in English.
When you start reading, a long press on a word pops up the dictionary with the translation. It won’t bring you immediate results, but ,say, in a couple of years of constant reading you’ll see the result. I did it myself, I know what I am talking about. Fora dictionary can also pronounce the word, by the way.
While some of these French dialects have drifted far from each other over the centuries, Parisian French is universally intelligible to most Francophones around the world. It is the standard for anyone who wants to learn how to speak French and join the 220 million people around the world who speak French fluently as their native or second language.
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Very early on you need to master the precise vocabulary and the modern pronunciation of French politeness expressions. The French are known to be sticklers on etiquette and you do not want to start off on the wrong foot. Unfortunately French people will expect you to know these expressions, and they don’t realize it’s hard.
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.
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?
When my friend Anthony Lauder introduced me to conversational connectors a few years ago, they blew my mind. They’re a great technique for sounding more like a native speaker, for removing the awkwardness from conversations, and for giving yourself time to recall vocabularly.
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.
You’ll hear the word bon a lot. Literally, it means “good.” In spoken French, though, it’s often used as an interjection. It can signify decisiveness, similar to “right” or “OK” when used at the beginning of a sentence in English.
Spaced Repetition Systems (SRS). SRS is a great method for memorising vocabulary and phrases using virtual flashcards. My favourite SRS tool, Anki, is free and allows you to create your own flashcards, so you can build a deck from your personalised French phrasebook.
Keep a journal, document, or book with all of the vocabulary you learn in one place. If you’re a member of Rocket Languages, the “My Vocab” feature, which lets you save vocabulary and compile a list for future study, is fantastic for this.
Once you have quite a wide vocabulary, you can start translating things you see every day in your native language. You might listen to a song and as you are doing this, start thinking about the words and tenses you would need to translate this into French. The same can be said for road signs, menus or even conversations. Although this might sound tedious, sometimes you’ll think of a word in your native language and realize you don’t know the French equivalent. This is a good way to keep your skills up and to make sure you don’t forget things.
It can help you learn other languages. French is an excellent foundation for learning other similar, Latin-based languages. These include Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and even some English, since about one-third of modern English comes from French. Believe it or not, learning French will help you improve your English vocabulary!
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?
I’m impressed with Duolingo. It has helped massively with learning vocabulary and after just 5 months (Although I did have 2 hours a week at school) I’m delighted how much of the written language that I can understand. I’ve now joined a ‘Parlons Francais’ group where novices learn from fluent speakers by conversing visage a visage. C’est tres aider.
This is one of the first phrases most people learn. Consequently, it’s easy to dismiss its importance and incredible versatility. Basically, ça (it, that) is a handy noun and aller (to go) is a handy verb.
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.
Afrikaans and English both derive from the West Germanic language family. Phonetics and pronunciation are comfortable for English speakers; the one wee hurdle is the Afrikaans “g”, pronounced like the –ch in Bach.
This step is crucial. Why do you want to learn French? Is it because you have family or French origins? Is it because you’re going to visit France soon? Is it because it’ll help your professional or personal endeavors? Is it because you want to read the original French text of Les Misérables or Madame Bovary? Whatever the reason, you need to take it, write it down, and place it somewhere you’ll notice often. This will be your motivation during those days you don’t feel like practicing… it’s all psychological. Without the will power or dedication, you won’t be any closer to French fluency. Especially if you’re learning French by yourself. I just started learning Italian on my own and my motivation is speaking to my girlfriend and my upcoming trip to Italy.
French for Beginners – What You Need to KnowThere is too much emphasis on grammar in French instruction, and I believe this is unhelpful. We need to immerse ourselves in the language right away, by listening to and reading stories. Initially these should be short, full of repetition, like the mini-stories at LingQ. Then, as soon as possible, the immersion should consist of compelling content, audio with text.
As a teacher for adults, I am often surprised to see that my students have forgotten how to study. So, here are some pointers for people who want to learn French to speak and communicate, not only to pass exams.
It’s your entrance into Europe and international relations. French is the second-most widely spoken language in Europe and the second most widely learned language after English. It’s also both a working and official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Red Cross, international courts and the International Olympic Committee.
Think in French. Set aside time during the day to practice thinking in French.Go to the grocery store and think about the items in the store and the conversations you have with people. Practice reworking those interactions into French.
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)!
The adventures of Mary (from “A Moi Paris – The Beginnings”) continue. In a fun and enticing realistic story in the present tense, you’ll learn a ton of really useful French vocabulary and grammatical structures.
Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today’s French to adults for 20 years in the US and France. Based on my students’ goals and needs, I’ve created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it’s spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!