The beginner’s guide to learning French

 

student in classroom

As a beginner you certainly wonder what the most effective way to learn French is. There are a lot of methods available, but only a select few really give results.

Here is everything you need to know in order to start learning French.

Learning French is hard work

 

You know what all successful French learners have in common? They worked hard! Learning French doesn’t have to be difficult, but it takes time and determination. You can’t expect to be fluent quickly if you only study French one hour per week.

Here is an estimate from ILA France of the time needed to reach each level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages :

  • A1 (beginner) : 60 hours
  • A2 (elementary) : 160 hours
  • B1 (intermediate) : 310 hours
  • B2 (upper intermediate) : 490 hours
  • C1 (advanced) : 690 hours
  • C2 (mastery) : 890 hours

 

student in classroomSo you would need roughly one year and a half to be fluent in French if you study two hours per day and roughly five years if you study 30 minutes per day.

Keep in mind though that these numbers are estimates. How you spend these hours can greatly increase or reduce the number of hours needed to master French.

Considering how ineffective most language courses are, you could certainly learn much faster if you follow an effective method.
In the first stages of language learning, the quality of the material is actually much more important than the quantity.

You can learn French considerably faster if you already know how to memorize vocabulary and choose the right French-learning material.

The method you are going to read about here is based on Luca Lampariello’s Full Circle Method. Luca is someone I have been following for a while and I really like his approach to language learning.

So I decided to adapt his method to fit the needs of French learners.

 

Three basic principles

 

Regularity

It’s essential to study regularly and as often as possible. That way you don’t have the time to forget what you just learnt and the whole learning process becomes much easier.

Learning French must become an habit for you, something you do automatically everyday.  Or if not everyday, at least regularly.

If you are on a tight schedule, try to spend at least 20 minutes per day studying French. A daily 20 minutes learning session works much better than a weekly two hours session when it comes to memorizing vocabulary.

 

Natural

If you learnt a foreign language at school, you probably experienced what I like to call the Parrot Method.

Like a parrot you repeated individual words a thousand times in the hope that they would finally stick in your memory.

Then you proceeded to learn French conjugation by heart.

This is not only boring but also extremely ineffective.

 

Sure you can probably remember part of what you learned because repetition works at the end. But how much time did it take you to retain so little information? Most of all, do you know how to use these words and verbs you learnt?

 

When you begin learning French, focus on listening to dialogues of real spoken French first. If there is some grammatical point you don’t understand, feel free to look for information and read about it, but don’t obsess over it.

You will be able to learn and understand grammar naturally as you get more familiar with the language.

 

Fun

Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too. Dr. Willis

 

girls drinking champagneWhen we find something boring, we tend to lose focus and think about other things. We keep doing the task we were doing, but we don’t really think about it. So our brain considers it unimportant and we quickly forget what we just learnt.

This is why having fun is absolutely essential when it comes to learning a language (or anything really).

You can’t always have fun when you learn French, but you can make the learning process much more enjoyable and motivating by incorporating game and fun in your learning routine.

For example you could :

 

 What is the best French course?

It depends.

It depends on your level, it depends on your motivation. It depends on who you are.

Truth is there is no perfect French course.

 

However, there is a course you will enjoy learning with, a course which will allow you to make progress and learn French.

What course? The answer depends on you.

 

You want to learn on your own

Assimil FrenchIf you enjoy learning on your own and want to learn as fast as possible, Assimil is for you.

This method contains dialogues in real spoken French and their transcription.

 

To learn with Assimil, you could use Luca Lampariello’s Full Circle Method and do the following :

 

  • Listen to the dialogues
  • Repeat the dialogues
  • Read the dialogues while listening
  • Read without listening
  • Translate the French dialogue into your native language
  • Translate your translation back into French

After one month doing this for one hour everyday, you will be ready to speak French for the first time.

 

You would rather be guided through the learning process

babbelIf you like to feel you are not alone when you learn, a method like Assimil is NOT for you.

Babbel or Rocket French however, would be great for you.

Both websites teach you French using dialogues and give you the opportunity to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

The choice between the two is a matter of personal preference.

If you like to learn on the go, mobile apps are also available.

 

Whatever course you choose, remember that the most important is to stick to it. The best method of the world will be of no use if you don’t work hard.

Photo credit :

spaxia/123rf.com

leaf / 123RF

dolgachov / 123RF

 

Over to you

 

How are you learning French? What method hast worked the best for you so far?

  • Pinakin

    This is one of the most wonderful article I’ve seen on French :) I am preparing for A2 for Canada visa and this article gave me a little plan to clear the French exam :) kudos :)

    • http://frenchtogether.com/ Benjamin

      Thanks for the kind words Pinakin :).

      I wish you the best for your exam. Let me know if you need any help.

  • Dércio Donaldo Mariote

    Decided to give it a chance after postponing for year. This time I’m really motivated and will do my best to learn français asap. Thanks for the various useful tips.

    • http://frenchtogether.com/ Benjamin

      Now is the best time to learn. I wish you a lot of success :).

      Let me know if you need help.