Dear French learner
You may have heard that French is difficult.
You may think you’re bad at learning languages.
You may think your bad memory will prevent you from learning quickly.
But the truth is…
Everyone at any age can successfully learn French.
You don’t need to have the language learning gene, you don’t need to spend one year in France, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on private French classes.
All you need is to follow the 5 rules of French Together.
Here they are:
#1 Learn from authentic French content
Stephen Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition has shown that the best way to learn a language is to learn from authentic content you can at least partly understand.
For example, even if you’re a total beginner, you can probably guess what the following sentences mean:
Bonjour ! Je suis Benjamin.
Je suis Français.
A good French course will give you access to lots of French content you can partly, but not fully understand. And only teach you grammar in context (that’s rule number 5).
You’ll start by listening a lot and only start producing content (writing or speaking) once you feel ready.
As a beginner, I highly recommend you to use Rocket French, a course that’ll help you learn French with high-quality dialogues and clear explanations.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced French learner, I recommend Français Authentique.
#2 Listen a lot
“Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from simple exposure to the language – which is how babies learn their first language.” Paul Sulzberger Victoria University
Remember how you learned your native language?
You spent the first months of your life listening.You didn’t speak, you didn’t think about grammar rules, you just listened.
Then you started repeating words you had heard and later sentences.
Finally a few years later, you went to school and discovered that weird thing called grammar (yawn).
Many studies have shown that the way we learn our native language and the way we learn other languages aren’t very different.
If you want to successfully understand and speak French, you need to spend hours listening to the language the same way you spent hours hearing your native language.
The more you listen, the more your brain gets used to the language and the more you understand.
As a beginner you need to make sure you spend lots of time listening to French. Here are several ways to do just that:
- Listen to the audio from your French course several times
- Listen to French podcasts
- Watch French TV
- Watch French movies
- Watch French TV series
- Use a tool like Lingq to read and hear French at the same time
- Use audiobooks to read and listen to books at the same time
#3 Study regularly
Do you know what all successful French learners have in common?
They never give up!
They know learning French takes time, they know they’ll make mistakes and that it won’t always be fun. And they accept that.
If you study regularly (preferably everyday) and use every gap in your day to study French, you’ll make progress faster than you have ever thought possible.
And by study, I simply mean that you should get exposure to the French language (learn with a good French course, watch French TV, read French books…).
There are days when you simply won’t feel like studying French. On days like that, why not just watch Youtube videos in French or review past lessons?
It may not be as hard as studying with your usual French course, but it’ll still help you get closer to your goal: becoming fluent in French.
#4 Don’t be afraid to speak French
Picking a French course is good, studying regularly is great. But you know what’s even better?
Practicing and accepting that mistakes are unavoidable.
When you speak French, several magical things happen:
- You use what you learned which makes it easier to memorise
- You get feedback and get to learn from your mistakes
- You improve your pronunciation
- You realise you can actually say much more than you thought you could
That’s why I recommend you to speak as soon as possible.
As a beginner, your fist conversations will be rather short. But you’ll quickly be able to say more. And you’ll immediately know whether you pronounce and use French words the right way.
Not to mention that using a new language with someone is fun.
You can click here to see how to easily find a conversation partner near you.
#5 Learn grammar in context
At school, I spent years learning grammar rules by heart. According to my teacher, this was necessary, because grammar is essential.
The result? After thousands of hours learning English and German at school, I could barely create a sentence.
One day I decided to stop studying grammar rules and watch American TV series and find a conversation partner instead.
Binge watching American TV series and speaking broken English did wonders for my English. And I’m proud to say I haven’t opened a grammar book ever since.
I’m not saying you should never open a grammar book. What I’m saying is that grammar shouldn’t be your priority. If you regularly get exposure to authentic French, you’ll naturally learn grammar in context by seeing how sentences are constructed and verbs conjugated.
Don’t believe me?
Try asking a French person why they say something the way they say it. More often than not, you’ll hear “I don’t know, it just feels right”.
That’s because they intuitively know whether something is correct or not. Their knowledge of grammar rules comes from experience, not from learning rules by heart.
There are some cases when knowing rules can help you learn faster. For example, knowing that most words ending in “e” are feminine is a nice way to avoid mistakes at first. But ultimately, nothing replaces exposure to the language.
Learning French takes time, but I can promise you you’ll quickly make progress if you follow these 5 rules.
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