Let’s talk about the best way to learn French. Learning a new language is a fun and exciting way to enrich yourself and the world around you. There’s plenty of good reasons to learn a foreign language, and what better language than French? After all, it’s the official language in over 30 different countries, second only to English.
Whether you’re hoping to communicate with French friends or family members, plan on spending time in France, or you’re just fascinated with the culture, we have some great tips that will help you master the French language. While there’s no one size fits all best way to learn French, following these tips will set you off on the right foot.
#1 Take a Formal Class
Whether you’re learning French or any foreign language, taking a formal class is one of the best and most established ways to learn a new language. Current students should have no problem finding a French class to join at their school or university. But, there’s also plenty of options for those of us no longer enrolled in school.
Your local library, community center, or town paper are great places to start looking for French classes near you. You may even be able to find an entirely free class.
#2 Buy a French Textbook
Whether you’re studying in a formal class or learning entirely on your own, purchasing a French textbook may be the best way to learn French.
The major benefit of studying with a textbook is they teach the language linearly, meaning that they tackle concepts in order, from the easiest to the most difficult. One of the difficult parts about learning a foreign language on your own is that you often learn concepts out of order, which can be difficult and counterproductive, not to mention discouraging.
Even the most affordable textbooks can still be quite expensive, so you’ll want to do some research before committing to one. Read reviews from other students to get an idea of their experience with the book, and check sites that sell used books to see if you can score a good deal.
#3 Avoid Associating French with English
French is a category I language, meaning that it’s among the easiest languages for native English speakers to master. But that certainly doesn’t mean that learning French will be a cake walk. There’s plenty of idiosyncrasies that can be quite difficult for English speakers to master.
A critical mistake that many students make is associating phrases in French with their English translations. This can make learning more difficult, as often, the French phrase does not directly correspond to an English translation.
For example, the phrase “I am cold” in English translates to j’ai froid in French. But, the direct translation of j’ai froid to English would be “I have cold.” Obviously, this doesn’t make much sense to an English speaker.
For that reason, it’s much more helpful to associate the French you’re learning with visual cues, like photos. That way, you’ll be able to avoid any logical hiccups which may make it more difficult for you to learn and retain information.
#4 Study Abroad
If possible, there’s no better way to learn a foreign language than to spend time in its native country. If you’re currently a student, it’s much easier to find opportunities to study abroad. But, even if you’re not a student, there still may be options for you to travel and work for some time in France.
In doing so, you’ll be thrown into the deep end so to speak, and you’ll need to have a functional knowledge of French to get by. This will make it easier for you to apply what you’ve learned, reinforce your knowledge, and learn new concepts.
#5 Immerse Yourself in French
Another great way to reinforce what you’re learning while also exposing yourself to new language concepts is to immerse yourself in French language and culture wherever possible.
Things, like watching French shows and movies, listening to French podcasts or audiobooks, or reading websites in French, are all great ways to further your knowledge as you learn to speak French. Even if it’s only for an hour a day, by exposing yourself to more French language and culture, you’ll surprise yourself with how much more you’re able to retain.
#6 Spend Time with French Speakers
The more opportunity you have to speak French, the easier it will be to learn and absorb concepts.
If you’re taking a class, it will be easy to find people to speak French with. If you’re learning on your own, try and find someone in your network of friends and family who speak French. Even if you don’t know any French speakers, there’s still plenty of opportunities to meet new people who can help you along.
The internet is a great place to find new friends with whom you can speak French with. Reddit, in particular, is a great place to start looking for people who speak French and are willing to help you out.
#7 Remember Your “Why” and Stay Focused
Whether this is your first foreign language or your tenth, learning a new language is far from easy to do. If you’re learning a new language for personal enrichment, it’s especially easy to lose faith in the process when things get hard.
The best way to power through any feelings of doubt as you learn your new language is to remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Maybe you have French family members or friends you’re hoping to speak with, perhaps you plan on spending time in France. Whatever your reason, it’s important to keep that goal in sight when things get tough.
By keeping your focus on why learning French is important to you, you’ll be able to power through when things get hard, and you begin to question whether or not learning French is worth it.
French is a beautiful language, and learning to speak French is sure to open up new doors for you while also enriching your mind. While there’s not necessarily one best way to learn French that’s sure to work for all people, these tips will certainly help you on your journey to learn to speak French.
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