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.
Each unit is in the form of a checklist with links to online lessons and other resources. I recommend spending at least a week but no more than a month on each unit: study/practice each item in the list and then go back through them again more quickly to cement your learning before moving on to the next unit. And of course you can go back to an earlier unit any time you like.
If you search “learn French” on the major search engines you will find that there are many sites offering basic language instruction. Many of these sites offer free audio and video lessons. The general structure is that these sites offer instruction in basic areas of knowledge such as counting and numbers, asking directions and common phrases.
No, we’re not talking about knowing how to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “one beer, please” (although this is helpful, of course). We’re talking about knowing a little bit about how languages work and the basic parts of a language.
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!
Learn French in context: check out French Today’s downloadable French audiobooks: French Today’s bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation.
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.
Memorize 30 words and phrases each day. In 90 days, you’ll have learned about 80% of the language. The most common words make up the greatest percent of interactions, so start by memorizing the most common words.
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.
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.
A lot of people are a bit fuzzy about this so I want to make it absolutely clear: If you move to a country for a few months (or even years) it’s very possible you will NOT learn the language. Out of all the advice I give on this blog, based on my lifestyle you
Take a look at the two verbs in bold for a moment. Whereas the Spanish version uses the imperfect subjunctive, the French phrase uses the imperfect indicative (standard past tense use of the word, like English) to express the exact same idea. In French, the imperfect subjunctive is a stodgy literary tense that nobody even uses anymore!
To get native French speakers to talk to you, you have to keep them talking. You also have to keep talking yourself. To do this, you’ll need a variety of familiar words and phrases to fall back on, including but not limited to transitional language, language for emphasis and common expressions that can be easily slipped into many conversations.
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?
If you have access to English subtitles for your video sources and really need to use them, go ahead. This isn’t “cheating,” because it still requires you to figure out what’s being said in French. You can also use French subtitles to check yourself, but be aware that, for some sources, subtitles may differ from the audio.
“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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Just like with vocabulary, it’s important to make sure you learn the most practical French verbs first. These are the verbs that you use the most in your everyday life. Instead of plunging into all of the different and complicated conjugations, make your life easier by learning the present tense first.
Considering French is considered by some to be among the world’s “hardest languages” (yes, seriously, Parisians will insist on this; luckily, you’ll get a lot more encouragement in the rest of France, Belgium, Switzerland and definitely in Quebec), I think a change in attitude is in order, so that those of you learning this language can get a bit of encouragement!
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.
List each tense on a sticky note and put them somewhere you will see them often, such as your bedroom mirror or near where you eat meals. Each time you pass the area, read the notes. Soon you will have them memorized.
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.
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.
Today’s guest post is from Zack, (@zackjsimon) who is a long-term reader of the blog and has sent me this guest post idea for a concept that you all know I like to write about for as many languages as I can!
English is a part of the Germanic family and is linked to many European languages by descent or influence. It was also a big mooch in its formative years, with over 50% of its vocabulary stemming from Latin or 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!
Okay, so perhaps you’re thinking that, yes, you realize that English and French have many words in common, but there’s no way you’re ever going to be able to master that perfect accent your fantasy French husband/girlfriend/whatever has. Ah, but not so fast!
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.
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.
“It is said that ‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’ David is a great teacher who inspires. He has great patient and explains french pronunciation very nicely. He is very friendly with pleasant personality. I am sure anyone will love to learn french from David.”
Hi, if you want to learn french you can contact me, I’m a french native speaker, I know that French is very difficult therefore if you want to speak with me in French, i can give my e-mail adress, respond to this message and i give 🙂
Unlike other academic subjects, learning a language is a continuous, never-ending adventure that requires constant practice. Don’t treat it the same way you would treat learning another academic subject and live in fear of making mistakes.