French is a beautiful language, called by many "the language of love". It is also one of the world’s most wide-spread languages, with over 270 million speakers all over the world. For some, learning French may be easier than for the others: for instance, speakers of other Romance languages, such as Italian or Spanish, will pick up French quite easily as these languages share common roots, vocabulary, and grammatical structures.
For speakers of languages not related to French, learning it may pose some challenges, but nothing is impossible with a little effort and patience. Regardless of what your native language is, you can learn French quickly and efficiently. This article will give you 7 key tips that will help you take your French to a new level.
1- Practice French regularly:
Our brains work in such a way that we need to repeat information (for instance, new vocabulary or a grammar rule) a few times before it is transferred from short-term memory into the long term memory. It is also important not to make long pauses between these repetitions. If you only have a French class once a week, you are very likely to forget most of what you learn during one lesson by the time the next one starts. To avoid that, it is essential to practice French every day, if even a little bit. You do not have to study for hours each time - most of us cannot afford to spend so much time studying - but regular practice is crucial. To find out what you can do for regular French practice, read on!
2- Use websites and mobile apps:
One of the easiest ways to learn or practice some French daily is using websites and mobile apps. Nowadays there are a lot of high-quality websites and apps you can choose from, and most of them are free or very affordable.
Here are some of the advantages of websites and mobile apps for learning French:
- You can study practically anywhere at any time.
- All you need is a smartphone and an Internet connection.
- Mobile apps are often fun and colorful - more like playing a game than learning.
- In websites and mobile apps, learning materials are usually divided into small portions - just the right thing to practice a little bit of French daily.
- You often get immediate feedback on the mistakes you make.
Naturally, a mobile app cannot replace classes with a good teacher. Some websites and mobile apps have a very narrow focus, for instance, you can only learn French vocabulary with them. They can still be incredibly beneficial if you use them to supplement your classes with a French tutor or any other learning activities like following educational courses on YouTube such as Learn french with vincent.
Some of the best apps for learning French are:
3- Listen to as much French as possible:
Learning French is not only about learning grammar and vocabulary - it also involves mastering such key skills as listening and speaking, reading and writing. Listening is one of the skills that many French learners struggle with. However, it is also an activity that gets easier the more you practice. Accent and speed can be challenging, but the more you listen the better your listening skills get.
Listening is also a great way to consolidate and even learn new grammar and vocabulary, and it is also helpful when you work on your pronunciation. It is also useful to improve your pronunciation of vocabulary and words, especially those that contain vowels such as "e - u - o" which can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between them.
There are a lot of ways to practice listening, such as:
- Listening to podcasts coffeebreakfrench.
- Watching movies and TV shows talkinfrench.com.
- Watching French-language channels on YouTube such as Cyprien or frenchpod101.
- Listening to the radio TuneIn.
- Listening to audiobooks litteratureaudio.
4- Read a lot:
Reading is one of the essential skills in learning French, and no French learning advice would be complete without the advice to read as much as possible. Reading is a universal tool through which you can learn the language:
- It allows you to learn and consolidate new grammar and vocabulary, and how to structure sentences and use expressions.
- Reading allows you to prepare for listening and makes it easier. As there are many letters that are written and not pronounced at the end of nouns and verbs in French which may be difficult at the beginning.
- Reading is a great basis for writing essays and having oral discussions with fellow French learners
You can of course also read for pleasure - it will still be great French practice. If you are at a lower level (beginner or elementary), you can start with adapted books, also called graded readers such as mondesenvf.fr. The language of such books has been simplified to suit beginners, but they can also be very fun to read - and very useful.
5- Start speaking French as early as possible
Chances are, you are learning the French language to communicate with people, be it for work, travel, or simply your own pleasure. A lot of people make the mistake of waiting to start speaking. They wait until they have expanded their vocabulary sufficiently or until they have "perfect" grammar. But you shouldn’t wait. The truth is that you can learn to communicate only through communicating. Even if you have good grammar and an extensive vocabulary, there is a risk that when you need to speak French in a real-life situation, you will hardly be able to say anything - because you have had no practice.
Of course, at the beginning you will only be able to say a little: using common French greetings, introducing yourself, talking about the weather, making a simple order at the restaurant… That is fine! You need to learn to walk before you run: you will never learn to speak beautiful and sophisticated French if you don’t learn to use the basic simple sentences first. Finding a speaking partner is not such a big challenge thanks to the Internet and modern technology. There are language exchange websites and apps that allow you to connect with French native speakers or fellow-French learners from all over the world.
Some of the best language exchange sites and apps are:
- At Italki you can also find French teachers from all over the world who can help you with speaking practice as well!
6- Set goals and track your progress:
Have you met people who have been trying to learn French, or another foreign language, for a long time but have achieved little to no success? One of the reasons for that is not having clear goals and not tracking your progress. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, how can you arrive at your destination?
Here are a couple of examples of the goals you can have:
- Achieve a certain level of proficiency in French, such as B1 or B2.
- Prepare for a language test, such as DELF or TCF.
- Improve your listening or speaking.
- Work/study in France.
Having a clear goal in mind will help you stay motivated and organize your learning process more efficiently. Tracking your progress regularly is also important. If you just do French exercises, you may not know for sure if you are making any progress. Test yourself regularly on lawlessfrench.com to see if you are moving forward - this will help you make adjustments if you find gaps in your knowledge, as well as be a form of extra motivation.
7- Have fun!
This may seem like an unexpected piece of advice, but it is actually a very important one as well. Us humans actually learn new things better and more efficiently if we like what we are learning and enjoy the process as much as possible. This is true for learning French as well. Think of learning French, not as something that you have to do, that is a chore. Even if that is true in some form - for example, you need to learn French for work - try to find as much pleasure in learning it as possible.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Choose apps and learning resources that you enjoy.
- Watch your favorite movies and TV shows.
- Read the books you like.
- Communicate in French with interesting and inspiring people.
- Listen to your favorite genre of music.
If you find pleasure in learning French, even the more difficult aspects will seem a little easier, and you are also likely to make faster progress and master French more effectively.