The French language is one of those that people either love or hate. Depending on who you ask, it is either beautiful or difficult to learn. In addition, it is one of the most useful languages to learn. So why do so many people put it off? The following is one reason and some tips to overcome it so that you can start learning French now!
It’s a language with more than 1 million native speakers, and that’s only the beginning. According to a 2014 study by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, there are roughly 274 million French speakers, 212 million of whom use the language daily, and 62 million who use it as a second language. In addition, French is a versatile bridge language, allowing you to communicate in dozens of countries whose primary language may be more difficult to learn.
Why don’t we learn French? After studying French myself, I think a lot of it has to do with confidence – whether it’s confidence in learning the verbs, in pronunciation, or simply in knowing how to start. As a result, I’ve put together some practical tips for learning French with confidence.
1. Practice makes perfect
Repetition might seem like a no-brainer, but it is essential. This repetition moves new information into short-term memory and keeps it in circulation once it has been stored in your long-term memory.
Maintaining your muscles is similar to learning a language — if you don’t use them, you will lose them, so doing those repetitions is very important. However, you can take advantage of them by doing them in an efficient and smart way. It’s a blessing that we live in a time when technology has brought learning to a whole new level and advances like machine learning and AI can help us by reminding us of those words we’ve been struggling with just as we’re about to forget them.
It is also beneficial to occasionally review what you’ve already learned to see how far you’ve come. Looking back at older material, you can get an instant perspective on how much you’ve accomplished. That can be incredibly motivating – and will give you the chance to pat yourself on the back.
2. Frequency vs. Intensity
We are often discouraged by the study-planning questions: How long will it take? How often? How much?
In reality, it’s not about how often or how hard we study, but that we do it. Of course, it’s best to inspect regularly – but even 20 minutes a day can make a big difference. It’s for this reason that I mentioned the small habits above.
By regularly putting our brains into French mode, we can put it in language perspective. In addition, Lingvist’s Data Scientists found that it doesn’t matter how long or intense each study session is.
3. Maximize your efforts
The excitement of learning a language is one of the best things. We want to learn as much French as we can! It’s great to be enthusiastic, but you might be setting yourself up for feeling overwhelmed as well.
When you feel like you’re getting lost in the headlights with the prospect of learning French, give yourself a reality check. It doesn’t have to be a one-time deal—quite the opposite. Start with the things you use in your daily life – they’re the ones you’re most likely to use, those most relevant to you, and those that will build your confidence rather than detract from it.
Try to make a small habit first if you feel overwhelmed about taking the French plunge. Then, this small habit can be expanded into a larger one that you are more likely to keep over time.
4. Vocabulary: It’s all about the family
We have yet to convince you of the importance of context, but consider this: Words come in families.
You will better comprehend a new word on sight if you learn one-word root. Your French vocabulary will increase exponentially when you learn different word forms and related language.
Sight-reading in French is made more accessible by prefixes and suffixes. I am talking about words like anti-, -mal, super-, -ain/e, -isme, and -iste. You’ll be able to give a good guess even if you haven’t seen the word before.
5. Make French your own
This is about context, but specifically about French in your context. Whenever you learn a new word, associate it with the people, places, and things in your life.
Consider your life as a French film à la Nouvelle Vague, and narrate it in French using all the new words you’ve learned. For example, if you have trouble teaching the verb for being bored (s’ennuyer), look at your pet cat and say, “Mon chat, il s’ennuie toujours.”
6. Words over sentences
Language learning research has shown that learning new words in the context of a sentence that depicts their meaning is more effective than learning a comment on its own.
Lingvist’s courses present vocabulary as part of a sentence and ask you to provide it as part of that context. By associating with the word and everything associated with it, you also gain a sense of tone.
Try putting a new word into a sentence as soon as you learn it, and you’ll be more likely to remember it and use it correctly.
7. Be careful with cognates
Like loanwords (words from one language that get adopted into another), cognates (words that have similar or nearly identical roots, spellings, pronunciations, and meanings) between French and English can act as double agents. In one sense, they’ll boost your vocabulary because they’ll speed up your comprehension, but they can also become a problem because you may be tempted to use them the way you would in English. Generally, these are most problematic in pronunciation (words like téléphone, Chocolat, and automobile, which are so close to their English counterparts).
This brings us to the topic of false cognates or false friends – such as the textbook example of attending vs attendre (to wait). As opposed to encountering them with anxiety, try re-framing your understanding of them and highlighting that they are “not the same” as in English. Sometimes false friends will have a rather opposite or completely unrelated meaning, and if you focus on that strangeness, it might be the very thing that sticks in your mind!
8. Visualize, experience, and feel!
In order to reinforce the importance of not translating French into your native language, connect your new French words and phrases to your feelings – both physical and emotional.
Imagine hunger and repeat the phrase, “J’ai faim” to yourself when you’re hungry. Does that sound dramatic? I don’t think so. We do the same thing when we’re learning to speak our mother tongue and only know our physical sensations and emotions first.
It is essential to connect the new sounds and vocabulary to the most direct experience of the words.
9. Skip the native language middleman!
To get your bearings in French, you’ve got to start with the basics. It’s best to avoid translating to your native language as much as possible once you don’t need it just to get by.
It will not only help you to create more direct and lasting connections between the French words and phrases and their actual meanings at their fundamental level, but it will also help you to improve your fluency and natural expression as you practice more.
10. Language learning is spiced with a variety
It has been said that immersion is the best way to learn a language. It’s true, but what if you aren’t able to do that? By self-studying, you can immerse yourself in French to the fullest extent possible, either to learn in and of itself or to supplement conventional language courses.
A variety of input helps us put new language information into a more natural context, thus improving our ability to process it. When we study for ourselves, we can control the sources from which we get language input, so we get a variety of language input. Rather than being stuck with dated material, we can view contemporary media, watch videos, and listen to real radio with a few keystrokes on our keyboards.
11. Learn how to capitalise on your learning style
As important as learning is taking a break. What matters most is how focused you are during active study time. Taking a break to stretch, grab a drink, and rest your eyes can make all the difference in allowing your brain to integrate all that new language information and stay focused.
12. Audio is crucial
If you want to use music to practice pronunciation, you need to choose the right songs. Occasionally, singers prefer to pronounce a piece differently frome normal, either for artistic reasons or to create a unique sound. You have to be aware of that as well.
13. Make mistakes without fear
It is okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. It’s better to say something quickly even if it’s full of mistakes, rather than to take two hours to make one flawless statement. The person who is willing to correct you will become the best ally in your learning process.
14. Don’t ask “why”, just accept the rules and remember them
A golden piece of advice was given to me by Beth McKinley, and I could not have expressed it better myself.
I get irritated when people start questioning some grammar points in French, saying they’re weird or nonsense. Even your language could seem strange if you studied English or other languages. French is more accessible in so many aspects than English.
For example, why isn’t ballet pronounced like mallet or pallet? The plural of box is boxes, but the plural of ox is oxen? Let’s not talk about geese and geese and mice and mice!
Not just French, but every language has its weirdness. We have no choice but to accept it, learn to live with it and embrace its quirks.
15. Practice phrasing and sentence structure
I believe this to be true. When you begin your French lessons, learning phrases and sentences will be very helpful in providing context and aiding your comprehension.
16. Learn more than just the language
This couldn’t be more true. People can communicate in hugely different ways depending on their culture. Understanding the mindset of the locals will help you adapt to their way of speaking the language. Reading provides terrific insights into this.
17. Get started
It takes one small step to begin a journey. That statement is often thrown around, but it’s true. You will learn the rules along the way, so don’t worry too much about them. However, you have to start somewhere.
18. To translate or not to translate
You read that right. Try not to solve your language word for word into English. This can sometimes be awkward.
19. Develop a habit of learning every day
Last but not least, here is mine. Those of you who have been following this website for a while will notice that I keep emphasising the importance of learning habits: it makes learning French much easier and less painful.
20. Study French Regularly, For A Short Time, Not All At Once
You’re more likely to lose motivation, get frustrated or lose your focus if you study French all afternoon.
If you study French for 15-30 minutes a day, not while multitasking but with 100% focus, you will get better results than spending two hours during the weekend while the kids are playing.
Henry Harvin’s French Language course
In the French language course, you will learn topics and grammatical concepts that will help you become proficient in French.
Henry Harvin will assist you in understanding the language, speaking the language fluently, and writing a variety of texts. Various levels of instruction are available.
- Level A1: The Beginners
- Level A2 is the upper beginner level
- Level B1: Intermediate
- Level B2: Upper-Intermediate
- Level C1: Advanced
- Level C2: Proficiency
The benefits of taking a French course
It is your job to initiate conversation. Describe your habits, your feelings, and your opinions. By learning sentence formation, you become more proficient in French language grammar.
The certification process for French Language courses
- Registration following counselling
- Complete the syllabus for the course
- Completing the projects
- Certification in Languages
Other cities where Henry Harvin courses are offered
Here are twenty of the best tips on how to learn French. What about you? What’s the best French-language advice you’ve ever received? Tell us about it in the comments!