French is one of the most studied languages worldwide, after English and Mandarin. It attracts students for different reasons, one being that it is a sophisticated language. It has also been labelled as the language of love.
So, if you want to study French, here are some tips for your consideration.
First let’s define what is a beginner?
You can be a true beginner, meaning you have never been in contact with the language previously. You are a blank canvas. According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) this is the level A1. This means that you will have to get familiar to new vocabulary, grammar, and especially French pronunciation.
Most people interested in French are ‘false beginners’, meaning that you have studied the language at school, but you have forgotten most of what you were taught. To the CEFR this is the level A2. You might have to unlearn some elements that you’ve memorised in the past - like wrong word pronunciation- to have the opportunity to study the correct way this time around.
Know your goals.
What is it you intend to do with the language? Is it for work, for communicating with the natives? Write down your objectives and make a study plan.
Have the right mindset.
Mindset is important when learning a language. You must be confident that you will succeed or the whole process will be a waste of time. You should be confident that you will be able to interact with someone else by using the new language, even at a very basic level.
You should rid yourself of preconceived ideas like ‘French pronunciation is difficult to master’.
You should take your French learning journey as an adventure and welcome every step you take towards accomplishing your goals.
Consider every milestone- no matter how little- as a success.
Where to start?
First learn the basic rules of politeness. Know when you should use ‘vous’ instead of ‘tu’ as well as all the vocabulary that will help you introduce yourself, talk about yourself, your hobbies, and your family. How to ask questions, how to order food, basic items you can buy at a supermarket.
Learn sentences in context.
You may not need to study work-related vocabulary, for example, if your short-term goal is to travel to France in two months. You should instead pay more attention to the vocabulary and phrases that will help you interact with people during your stay.
Learn useful conversation starters like how to order at a restaurant, or ask for a table, how to enquire about tickets at a museum the right way to order a coffee at a café.
Learn the vocabulary that you will most likely use.
Make a list of useful sentences and practice the pronunciation as well. It is paramount-especially at a beginner level- that you use audio that will tell you about the correct pronunciation of every word if you do not have a tutor at hand.
The Present Tense will help you communicate in French as soon as you start learning.
Learn the present tense.
At this stage, all you need is the present tense when studying verbs. This will help you communicate in French with simple affirmative and negative sentences.
Don’t boil the ocean.
Use simple learning methods. Don’t over complicate things. Remember you must learn to walk before being able to run. Always plan. Set monthly and weekly goals and stick to them. Keep a vocabulary journal and remember to go back periodically to past vocabulary, expressions, and sentences. Some Apps might be useful as they are spaced repetition software.
Don’t be like a child in a sweet shop.
I know there are a lot of free resources, but they might also act as distractions if you do not set a structure to your learning. You might easily get loss in the vast ocean of content out there. Focus on your immediate goals so that you can build your knowledge of French on solid ground.
Pay attention to pronunciation.
I must admit that French pronunciation is not easy. You must pay attention to the word liaisons and you will master this with practice. It also takes time to learn to pronounce the French ‘R’ as well as recognise the difference between ‘u’ and ‘ou’, ‘é’ and ‘è’.
Study modern French expressions.
The French you usually find in books is not all that you will listen to in the French streets. You should find a way to get introduced, from the start, to the spoken French so that you do not feel lost when visiting.
As a French beginner, you should:
Plan your language study and set realistic goals.
Remember your priorities.
Structure your language study so you don’t run after the first shiny object.
Learn the vocabulary and expressions that you are most likely to use.
If you want to grab more tips to help you learn French Download the ‘Ultimate Guide To Overcoming The Fear Of Speaking French’