These last times I received a lot of mails asking me "How to learn French faster ?"
It’s a common questions even among my students. You’re all learning this beautiful language, and, after few classes you have the feeling to not go as faster as the beginning or just as you would like it!
It’s absolutely NORMAL !!! Everyone has this feeling when it comes to learn something new!
Nevertheless, of course there’re always few tips to learn a language a bit faster !
Vraiment ?! Yes really! So, today, in this post, I’d like to share 6 steps to help you with your French.
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been learning French for years, follow these steps, and you’ll be speaking French before you know it !
Let’s get started !
Step 1 : Fall in love...with French
What’s the key to speaking any language ? Passion !
French is the language of love. And to speak it, you’ve got to fall in love with it…
Or at least find a really good reason to stick with it, even when the going gets tough.
“Pourquoi” (why?)… Once you answered to this big question, it 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?”
Everyone has their own big “why” for speaking French.
Here are some really good reasons to fall in love with French:
- To travel the world. French is an official language in over 25 countries, and is widely spoken in many more.
- To have conversations with this lovely French erasmus student… (the language of love, remember ?)
- To read French literary classics (think Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas and Gustave Flaubert).
- To obtain a Diploma (and a greater job). Speaking French opens up opportunities at renowned French Universities and business schools, ranked among the top higher education institutions in Europe and the world.
- To get an inside view of French culture.
Why do you want to learn French ?
Find your own personal, meaningful reason to study French, and use it to keep you on track throughout your language journey.
Step 2 : Bring France at home !
You don’t need to live in France to immerse yourself in French. In fact, you can surround yourself with French wherever you live.
Here’s are some of my favourite tips you can use to immerse yourself in French.
Turn your smartphone into a French speaker. Switch the language settings on your phone to French. You can do the same with your computer.
- Look for French speakers in your city. Most cities around the world, big or small, will have a community of French speakers. Chances are, there’s one near you.
- Watch French TV and movies. Switch on the subtitles to speed up your learning. Try also the youtube channels.
- Listen to French radio. You can learn a lot of French by listening to French songs. I will post soon another article about French songs you can use to progress.
Step 3 : Create your French Phrasebook
You’ll learn French much faster if you focus on words and phrases that are relevant to your life. When you have real conversations in French, you’ll be able to talk about yourself.
That’s why I recommend creating a personalised French phrasebook. This is a collection of words and phrases relevant to you.
I suggest starting your personal phrasebook with :
- "Je viens de [your home country]" (I’m from [your home country])
- "Dans mon temps libre, j’aime [your favourite activities]" (In my spare time, I like [your favourite activities])
- "Je veux apprendre le français parce que [your reasons for learning French]" (I want to learn French because [your reasons for learning French])
- "Je suis [occupation]" (I’m a [your occupation])
- Any other interesting information about yourself (Have you learned any other languages? Travelled to unusual places?)…
Step 4 : Accept that learning takes time and that YES! You’re Going to Sound Funny at First…
If you’ve never spoken out loud in a foreign language, it can feel awkward.
This is especially true with 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.
Some language learners let this hold them back. They feel embarrassed about saying things wrong and making mistakes.
Push through this fear by speaking French even when you feel silly. You’ll learn French much faster that way.
And trust me, no one’s going to laugh at you !
Step 5 : Be "IT", try the apps !
Don’t be afraid to use technology to help you learn a language faster !
Here are a few of my favourite apps that can speed up your French learning :
- Anki : It is free and allows you to create your own flashcards, so you can build a deck from your personalised French phrasebook.
- Rosetta Stone : It’s almost impossible to mention language learning without mentioning Rosetta Stone. One of the oldest and most popular learning methodologies around, it’s now available as a mobile app. Without going into the gory details, Rosetta Stone sets itself apart from many other language methodologies by offering a completely immersive experience. From the very beginning, it teaches French purely through French – there’s not a word in English inside the course.
- Memrise : One of the most innovative apps for learning French words, Memrise is an excellent choice for your learning needs if you’re struggling to remember French words after a while. Its methodology is highly unique. Unlike most apps, it doesn’t (just) teach words through pictures. It teaches you French words through humour.
- Duolingo : This app probably strikes the best balance between learning French and being fun, like a game. It’s got some serious accreditation to boot. It was the winner of both Apple’s App of the Year (2013) and Google Play’s Best of the Best (2013) awards, so you can bet it’s really well designed. Duolingo breaks down everything, adjectives, question words, tenses, abstract nouns (words like “feelings”), technical terms, and chunks them together into neat units. There are about 60 units in total for Duolingo French, so you’re probably going to be busy for a while. The great thing about Duolingo is that you don’t need a huge time commitment to use this. If you only take 20 minutes every day to go through 3 – 4 units, you can probably get through all the units in Duolingo in three months. That’s 1500 words in three months! I highly recommend this app for beginners !
Step 6 : Have Real Conversations with Native French Speakers
The most effective way to learn a language is to speak from day one. This is especially true if you have conversations with native French speakers.
Where can you find native speakers to practise with? It’s actually really simple.
No matter where you live you can still find people, either online or offline, to speak with in French. Here are some great websites :
- italki : This is the first place to go find French speakers. You can find language exchange partners for free.
- Meetup.com : Most major cities have a Meetup for French speakers or French learners.
- CouchSurfing : It is another of my favourite ways to meet French speakers.
- HelloTalk : This free mobile app helps you find French speakers who are learning your native language.
French really isn’t easier or harder to learn than any other language, but you can quickly forget this if you only focus on the difficult aspects of French.
Whenever you get discouraged, think about all of the ways that French is actually an easylanguage to learn. Or at least not the most complicated because it :
- Shares a lot of vocabulary with English due to their intertwined histories.
- Uses the Latin alphabet.
- Only has two noun genders, unlike German, which has three.
- Is not a tonal language, unlike many African and Asian languages.
You Can Do It !
Everyone who has ever learned to speak French (even native speakers, who learned when they were kids) was once a beginner in the language. They all managed to learn to speak French fluently, and so can you.
You just need to use your French as much as you can. Spend as much time immersed in French as you can. And, most importantly, believe in yourself.