Why so many French learners freeze when they try to speak French (and the 2 mistakes to avoid to make sure you don't)

Dear French learner,

I am a Frenchman living in London and I notice something pretty frustrating every time I go to Paris to visit my family.

As you know, millions of people visit France every year.

Most of them speak English but a few make the effort to speak French because they know it's the only way to fully enjoy French culture and connect with locals.

They ask for directions to the lovely apartment they rented in Montmartre, buy a few croissants at a local bakery, or book a table at a restaurant. Some may work up the courage to try to speak with locals.

Unfortunately, their attempts aren't always successful, and I hate to see the look on their faces when they realize French people can't understand a word they say or when the person they're talking to asks them to repeat.

It's not even their fault!

They spent years learning vocabulary and verb conjugations they quickly forgot, did their best to understand the difference between masculine and feminine words and worked hard to try to understand spoken French.

They may even have spent thousands of dollars on expensive French classes and fancy apps.

All of this only to end up switching to English because they're ashamed of their French!

This breaks my heart.

Luckily, I also see people who speak French with confidence after only a few months.

They can enter a bakery, order a croissant, crack a joke with the baker and leave with a smile on their face.

I spent years wondering why some people quickly speak French with confidence while others never seem to be able to say more than a few simple words.

And I finally found the answer.

But before I reveal it to you, let me tell you a little bit more about myself.

Bonjour ! I'm Benjamin Houy

That's me learning 한글 (the Korean alphabet)

I grew up in Houilles, a small city near Paris. And my first English conversation was a complete disaster.

I had been studying English for more than 10 years like all French students.

And there I was, standing in front of a group of American students, struggling to keep up with the conversation, ashamed and frustrated by my inability to say anything other than "yes".

My brain was frozen and my accent so bad the students could hardly tell whether I was speaking English or French.

After asking me to repeat a few times, they excused themselves, quickly walked away and went to talk to Laura, a classmate who could not only form complete sentences in English but also make jokes in English.

That's when I decided that enough was enough. There had to be a better way!

This happened several years ago and I now speak French (my native language), English and German and just started learning Russian.

I've also taught French in South Korea as part of a French government program and helped 2,999,264 people learn French at French Together which is now one of the most popular French learning websites in the world and has been mentioned in several well-known publications.

The irony is that people assume I've always been good at languages and that I'm one of those people who can pick up language after language without any effort.

The reality is that I just created a method anyone can use to quickly learn new languages.

And I really mean anyone.

Current students include British people and Americans who retired in the South of France, college students who want to get better grades, busy professionals who want to speak French before going to France with their family and people who have been struggling for years before they discovered the French Together method.

Avoiding these 2 mistakes is essential if you ever want to speak and understand French

You may think you just need to work harder, you may think you're too old to learn French, you may think you're bad at learning languages.

Truth is, the reason why so many French learners struggle to speak and understand French is that they simply make the following two mistakes.

Mistake #1 Wasting your time learning vocabulary

There is nothing more frustrating than spending months learning French only to realize that the words you know are useless in a real-life conversation.

Yet, that's what happens to most French learners who learned French the traditional way. They know lots of words but can't form sentences because the French they know isn't the French they need to speak French.

The kind of sentences most French courses and apps teach you

That's a shame because, according to L’encyclopédie Incomplète, the same 600 French words represent 90% of words used in common French texts.

Knowing these words won't make you fluent but it will make it considerably easier for you to understand the language.

That's why it's essential to focus on high-frequency vocabulary and say goodbye to old-fashioned methods that make you waste your time learning how to say ruler and peony.

Mistake #2 Giving too much importance to grammar rules

Most French learners start by learning conjugation tables by heart and obsessing over the most insignificant aspects of French grammar.

They spend days learning rules they don't understand, conjugating verbs they don't need and memorizing the thousand of exceptions of each grammar rule.

The truth is, you don't need to know that much grammar to speak French with confidence.

You simply need to learn the 20% of grammar rules that will help you understand 80% of sentences.

You don't need to know the list of all masculine and feminine words. You just need to know that the majority of words ending in -e or -ion are feminine while most other words are masculine.

You don't need to learn how to conjugate 100 verbs in the present tense, you just need to learn a few conjugation patterns that apply to the vast majority of verbs.

If you do that, you won't know all the details of French grammar. You will, however, be able to speak French without taking forever to construct a sentence.

The secret to quickly speaking and understanding French

The two mistakes you just discovered show that the key to quickly speaking French with confidence is to focus on what matters.

This may sound simple but most French courses try to teach you so much at once that you end up overwhelmed and frustrated by your inability to speak and understand French.

What you need to do is learn the most common French words first and focus on the grammar that you actually need to know.

You could do that on your own of course but knowing what truly matters when you don't know the language isn't exactly easy.

Sure, you could download a list of the most common French words but knowing words is not the same as speaking French.

You could search for the best "grammar hacks" but you're not guaranteed to find anything. And again, how do you know you're not wasting your time on useless grammar rules?

That's why I created the French Together course.

Introducing: The French Together™ Course

The French Together course is the only French course teaching you the 20% of French you need to know to understand 80% of everyday conversations and quickly speak French with confidence.

After using the course, you will know exactly what to say to order a coffee like a local, book a table at a restaurant, have conversations with locals or buy a train ticket.

You will completely avoid the embarrassment of not understanding what people say and will be able to engage in meaningful exchanges with locals without feeling like a foreigner.

All of this with lessons you can easily fit into your day and will look forward to, even after a long day at work.

Simply open the course (interactive ebook) on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone/tablet, and click on the blue play button to get started.

Oh and don't worry about recurring fees and annoying limitations. Just pay once and use the course forever on as many devices as you like.

"There are so many online resources for learning French that it can be overwhelming to try and choose! I found I was spending too much time looking for the “best” course when I should have been spending that time learning. I found the French Together course was just what I had been looking to find. It gives me a quick lesson I can easily fit into my day. I look forward to it, even after a long day at work. I can access it on my computer, tablet, and phone – so can easily complete or review a lesson when I have a few minutes to spare. The phrases are real and applicable. The speakers are real people, so do not have the computer voice glitches I hear in some other programs. And I love that I can listen to them in real time for comprehension and slowly for repetition. The notes are just right to me – enough to be helpful and interesting, but not so much that I get bogged down. Lastly, I like that there isn’t extraneous dialogue in English.I’m hoping for the next 30 days SOON!!"

Laura - Portland - United States

Here is how the French Together course helps you become a confident French speaker

Step 1: Listen to real-life conversations recorded at slow and normal speed

Your learning journey starts by listening to a fun and realistic conversation between Jérome, Elodie, Stéphane and the other professional voice actors who worked on this course.

They speak fast, don't they?

That's how all French people speak (especially Parisians, they are the worst!)

Don't worry though, the French Together course comes with audio recorded at slow and normal speed so you can get used to the sounds of the language.

Simply switch between the two speeds and train your ears to finally understand fast-talking locals.

Do this for a few weeks and you could dramatically improve your understanding of spoken French.

Oh and the course also includes audio from a variety of speakers so you get used to different accents and intonations and don't end up having to ask locals to repeat when you go to France.

"After using the French Together course, I had a chance to speak to a French person - I traveled to England and Normandy and dared to start a conversation with our guide (who is from Paris and spoke perfect English. He wasn't very talkative with me in French - but I was thrilled that he understood me and I - him. He was very surprised that I had studied French only for a few months."

Irene Belyakov-Goodman - United States

Step 2: Improve your understanding of the language with full transcripts and natural translations

Unlike other courses that teach you a ton of words you will never use, the French Together course focuses on the most common French words because these are the 20% of French words you will find in 80% of conversations.

These words have been carefully selected based on a list of the most common French words in everyday speech. Each sentence has then been reviewed by several native speakers to make sure the sentences you learn are the sentences you will hear the most in real life.

Each conversation comes with a full transcript and translation so you know exactly how to use each word and sentence you learn.

This includes literal translations to help you quickly understand how the French language works and discover the true meaning of some of the most common French expressions.

French words often have multiple meanings. Understanding all the nuances is essential if you want to sound French. That's why the course also includes clear vocabulary explanations when necessary.

Finally, cultural explanations help you learn more about French culture so you don't simply speak French but also act French and avoid embarrassing mistakes.

For example, you will discover how to tip like a local, learn a simple phrase you can use to get tap water for free in restaurants and discover the words you must use if you don't want to come across as rude.

"Your class is awesome! I am starting totally from scratch having never taken French classes before. My husband speaks French and he’s amazed how much I’ve learned in just a couple weeks! Every night I read the new conversation to him so he can listen to my pronunciation. I’m a teacher about to be on summer break so hoping to devote lots of time to it!"

Lauren - Boston - United States

Step 3: Understand how the language works with clear grammar explanations

Each lesson builds on what you have already learned, and slowly incorporates new elements, so you don't have to struggle to memorize anything. You can focus on learning effortlessly.

You learn grammar naturally by focusing on common patterns and similarities between French and English.

Instead of learning French from scratch, the French Together course uses your knowledge of English to help you learn French in the easiest and most logical way possible.

The clear grammar explanations help you easily understand complicated grammar concepts such as the difference between masculine and feminine words and the conjugation of irregular verbs.

While most courses teach you as much grammar as possible, the French Together course only teaches you the grammar you actually need to know.

For example, you won't learn how to conjugate verbs in the passé simple tense if you're a beginner using the Level 1 course because that's unnecessary and would only slow you down.

You will, however, discover a simple trick you can use to easily guess the gender of French nouns just by looking at their ending.

This approach helps you learn grammar logically without feeling overwhelmed so you can construct sentences without freezing when it comes time to speak.

Each level of the French Together course follows a clear grammatical progression inspired by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR.)

By the end of Level 3, you will have reached a level equivalent to the B1 level of the CEFR. This means you will be able to speak about most everyday topics with confidence and understand most of what people tell you.

"The best thing about the French Together course for me, was just how accessible and enjoyable it made the process of learning the language. That's never happened to me before. From the capsule-sized lessons where I was able to listen, read and understand the concepts around the dialogues in as little as five minutes at a time, to the everyday scenarios that I could practice (e.g asking for directions at the train station, shopping), I found myself absorbing the vocabulary and the nuances of grammar from the course automatically, because it was easy to understand. One of the best parts of this course is the fact that you had the dialogues at 'normal speed' versus slowed down dialogues, so it meant that you could hear how the conversation would sound in 'real time' vs the 'slowed down' audio for your ears to 'listen more'. By day twenty of this course, I felt confident enough to speak (I had to travel to France), as well as understand simple everyday sentences/directions, which only enhanced my stay in France. In brief, I do recommend this course highly, because of the understanding and confidence that it gives you!​"

J. Williams Robson - Nottingham - United Kingdom

Step 4: Gain confidence and improve your speaking skills with conversation practice exercises

Real life French is nothing like textbook French and the French Together course prepares you for it with conversation practice exercises.

Whether you are in front of your computer, in your car or working out, these exercises recreate the experience of speaking in real life and help you gain the confidence you need to speak French with locals.

I call these exercises "anti-freeze" exercises because they solve the two main problems French learners face in real life:

As a language learner myself, I know how scary speaking a foreign language can be. The conversation practice exercises help you gain confidence by simulating real-life conversations from the comfort and safety of your home.

This allows you to improve your listening and speaking skills without having to worry about someone asking you to repeat or making fun of you.

"Before using the French Together course, I would never have tried speaking even though I knew what to say. This course has given me more confidence in my pronunciation and usage.

I wish I had bought this sooner. I really only had about 7 weeks with your program and already felt more confident speaking. I am continuing to practice and work and feel that on our return to Paris in October I will be so much more fluent.

Rebecca Spears - United States

The essential things Level 1 will teach you

The essential things Level 2 will teach you

The essential things Level 3 will teach you

"It is an excellent French course - very different than how we learn a language in the classroom. I wish I had known these lessons before moving to France. It took me FOREVER to figure out that you could switch 'on' and 'nous' when speaking. I had no idea what people were saying! Great work!"

Emily Bernstein - Providence - United States

"Before using French Together Level 1, I had spent one year struggling with French grammar and couldn't speak French at all. After using the course for only 30 days, I feel that I better understand French grammar and feel more confident speaking. I particularly love the slow audio, because it helps my ears to listen more so that I can speak more and can honestly say that this course has saved me lot's of time and prevented many headaches. I would totally recommend this course. In fact, I passed it to my 13-year-old daughter Lili who finds your course is much simpler and easier to understand than her textbook. "

Lyn - Indonesia

"I've now finished Level 1 and I think it's a huge difference in my French skills now compared to before. My French vocabulary has gotten a lot bigger and thanks to the audio - both normal speed & slow speed - my pronunciation has improved and I better understand simple, common meanings in French just by listening. As I've already said in one of my previous e-mails, I've struggled a bit with French in school for a few years until I got in contact with you, Benjamin, and this course. It has truly helped me a lot. The course makes learning much less boring and tiring, I really appreciate the side notes in almost every chapter that either explains something from that chapter or helps you to remember some things a bit more easily. Yes, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who'd like to learn French, and I think that I will continue reading it myself now and then to repeat everything I learned since I do not live in a French-speaking country or talk French regularly. "

Moa Berghall - Sweden

Here's what you get when you buy the French Together course today


  • Choose between Level 1 (complete beginner), Level 2 (beginner) and Level 3 (intermediate)
  • 30 lessons based on real-life conversations
  • No recurring payments. Pay once and keep the course forever.
  • Use the course (ebook with integrated audio) on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone/tablet or Windows PC/tablet.
  • Recordings of all conversations at slow and normal speed
  • Conversation practice exercises
  • Bonus: The How to Learn French in a Year Ebook


  • Get all 3 levels of the French Together course  at a 40% discount compared to buying the courses individually.
  • 90 lessons based on real-life conversations
  • No recurring payments. Pay once and keep the course forever.
  • Use the course (ebook with integrated audio) on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone/tablet or Windows PC/tablet.
  • Recordings of all conversations at slow and normal speed
  • Conversation practice exercises
  • Bonus: The How to Learn French in a Year Ebook

The 60-day sourire guarantee

This course comes with a 60-day sourire (smile) guarantee. This means that you have 60 days to try the course risk-free and see how you like it.

If you don't like it, haven't had the time to use it or feel that it's not the right course for you, email benjamin@frenchtogether.com within 60 days of your purchase and I will issue a refund with a smile. No questions asked

Here is what it means:

If you believe there is even a "slight chance" the French Together course can work for you, you should give it a try.

You should give it a try because there is no risk. If the course work for you, you will be able to finally speak and understand French. If it doesn't, simply send me an email within 60 days of your purchase to get a full refund. No questions asked.

I'm happy to offer you this guarantee because I honestly believe the French Together course is the best French course on the market but you don't have to take my word for it. Give the course a try and see for yourself!

Is this the right course for me?

Now you might be wondering, is the French Together course right for me?

This course is for you if you can say OUI to at least 4 of these statements:

The course isn't for you if:

You made it this far, here is what it means

If you made it this far down this page, it's a sign you're determined to speak French.

Maybe you've wanted to speak French for a while and have been dreaming of the day when you can finally have meaningful conversations with locals and order your favorite food in French, maybe you've even tried to learn French before.

You know anyone can successfully learn French and that you don't need to live in France or spend hours learning every day to succeed.

The question is: what are you going to do about it?

You could keep doing what you were doing and get the same result, or you could give French Together a try and join hundreds of people who now speak French.

And remember, when you get the course today, you have 60 days to go through it 100% risk-free. If you feel that you don't speak French as well as you would like or simply don't like the course, email me and I'll quickly issue a refund.

Questions other French learners asked before buying the course

Why can't I simply use a free course or textbook from the library?

You can and you would probably learn a few useful words, but the problem of most courses (including many paid ones) is that they don't teach you French, they just throw a bunch of random words and grammar rules at you in the hope that these words will magically turn into sentences.

The problem is that there is a difference between knowing French and speaking French and that's the reason why so many French learners know thousands of words but can't speak.

With the French Together course, you follow a clear roadmap that'll quickly bring you from beginner to a conversational level.

You don't waste time wondering what to study next or learning phrases and grammar rules you'll never use.

The result?

You learn French faster, avoid headaches and feel happy when you realize how much you can say in French.

I'm busy, will I still benefit from the course?

Unlike other courses that teach you random phrases, the French Together course was designed based on a list of the most common French words and each word was chosen based on how likely you are to need it in real-life.

Similarly, each grammar rule taught in the course was carefully selected based on how useful it is. I spent months looking for the easiest way to explain each grammar rule so you don't have to.

If you are busy, you will find that the French Together course helps you cut through the noise and make progress faster.

You won't "speak French in a week" but you will make good progress provided you can dedicate at least 15 minutes to learning French 5 days a week.

I'm bad at languages, will the course still help me?

Hundreds of students who were bad at languages or had a bad memory used the French Together course and can now speak with confidence.

That's because being bad at languages usually has more to do with using the wrong method than with an actual inability to learn languages.

In fact, I have never met a student who was truly bad at languages. Given the right method and motivation, even the worst students make progress. It may take you longer than most people but you will speak French if you work hard enough and use the right method.

And I say that as a former monolingual Frenchman who was convinced he would never be able to speak English!

You have already spent a lot of time learning French, don't let your belief that you are bad at languages prevent you from speaking French with confidence.

What if I have a bad memory?

It's perfectly possible that you truly have a bad memory, particularly if you are not as young as you used to be. But this doesn't mean you will never speak French.

In fact, a lot of older people have found that they made progress faster with the French Together course because the focus on the most common phrases means that there is less to learn and that learning is more manageable.

You will also be surprised to see how quickly your memory can improve when you spend a bit of time learning French every day.

I'm not sure which level to choose

The French Together course contains 3 levels. Level 1 is for complete beginners, Level 2 is for false beginners who already know a bit of French and Level 3 is for intermediate students.

The course follows the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and you can expect to reach level A1 by the end of Level 1, level A2 by the end of Level 2 and level B1 by the end of Level 3.

After helping thousands of students choose the right level, here are my recommendations for each level:

  • If you are a complete beginner or false beginner, buying the complete course makes the most sense. You will get access to 90 everyday conversations, learn the most common phrases and get to practice both listening and speaking with conversation practice exercises and audio recorded at slow and normal speed.
  • If you can read in French but still struggle to understand spoken French, I recommend going with the complete course as well. The French in the course is a lot more informal (and realistic) than what most courses teach so you will still learn lots of useful vocabulary. You will also get to practice listening and speaking, 2 things most courses severely neglect. As an intermediate student who struggles to understand spoken French, the complete course is the best way to finally understand spoken French and gain the confidence you need to go from listening to speaking.
  • If you already feel confident ordering food in French, asking for directions or talking about simple topics but would like to go further and engage in deeper conversations, Level 3 is for you. I recommend not purchasing Level 1 and 2 in this case and looking for a French conversation partner instead. At this stage, you are ready to speak and the more you speak, the more fluent you will become.

"The Level 1 course in general is something i wish i would have read when i first started to learn french. But since i already knew pretty much all that stuff it's even easier for me to notice some useful tips that you've included in the course like dropping the 'ne' part, "possessing" the age, or filter words. Even though its a 'crash course' for total beginners it can be very well used for someone who studied french in the past and wants to get back on track.Everything is spot on. As a total beginner i would have started learning french with this course for sure."

Anton - Moscow - Russia

Will the course work on my computer/smartphone/tablet?

The French Together course has been designed to be easy to use and work on as many devices as possible so you can learn French wherever you go.

Here is the list of devices you can use the course on::

  • iPhone, iPad, Mac
  • Android smartphones and tablets (Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE, Alcatel, HTC, Sony Huawei, OnePlus, Google, Xiaomi...)
  • PC and tablets running Windows
    • If you don't see your device on the list or simply aren't sure whether the course will work on your device or not, feel free to email me at benjamin@frenchtogether.com

      On how many devices can I use the course?

      As many as you want. As long as a device belongs to you or your family, you are allowed to install the course on it.

      I'm not very tech-savvy, is the course complicated to use?

      The course has been designed to be as easy to use as possible and has even been approved by my grandparents. If you know how to browse the web and found this page, you will have no trouble using the course.

      What if I need help?

      I created French Together because I was frustrated with existing language courses and their empty promises.

      And while French Together has grown a lot over the years and now has thousands of students and millions of readers, it's still a small company and I intend to keep that way.

      This means I take the time to personally help all the students who join and will do my best to answer your questions and help you learn French.

      If you have questions about the course, the French language or simply need tips on how to best use the course, just write me an email and I'll be happy to help.

      Can I use the course later?

      Once you buy the French Together course, it's yours to keep forever. You can start using it now, in one week or in 10 years.

      Of course, the sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to communicate with locals and express yourself in French, so don't wait too long!

      What if I don't like the course?

      This course comes with a 60-day sourire (smile) guarantee. This means that you have 60 days to try the course risk-free and see how you like it. If you don't like it, haven't had the time to use it or feel that it's not the right course for you, email benjamin@frenchtogether.com within 60 days of your purchase and I will issue a refund with a smile. No questions asked.

"Bonjour Benjamin !

I have been getting up a bit earlier each morning just to study french on your course, and then I have it with me all day, repeating to myself and combining different sentences. I only used the duolingo app before and it has helped me build up vocabulary and grammar, but for sentences it hasn’t really done anything for me. As you’re saying, when will I ever say ”Il y a une vache dans le jardin !” ?

I even feel confident enough to let people hear me speak, to show them what I’ve learnt and it feels amazing! I can better assist my son, who is going to choose french as extra language in school next year. He’s going to have a bit advantage and I cannot tell you enough how happy I am to have found this course!

It makes me confident enough to tell my son ”we can do this together!” Merci :,) Merci beaucoup !” "

Donna Åhrberg - Sweden

Here's what you get when you buy the French Together course today


  • Choose between Level 1 (complete beginner), Level 2 (beginner) and Level 3 (intermediate)
  • 30 lessons based on real-life conversations
  • No recurring payments. Pay once and keep the course forever.
  • Use the course (ebook with integrated audio) on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone/tablet or Windows PC/tablet.
  • Recordings of all conversations at slow and normal speed
  • Conversation practice exercises
  • Bonus: The How to Learn French in a Year Ebook


  • Get all 3 levels of the French Together course  at a 40% discount compared to buying the courses individually.
  • 90 lessons based on real-life conversations
  • No recurring payments. Pay once and keep the course forever.
  • Use the course (ebook with integrated audio) on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone/tablet or Windows PC/tablet.
  • Recordings of all conversations at slow and normal speed
  • Conversation practice exercises
  • Bonus: The How to Learn French in a Year Ebook