Tips for Learning French

  • Make it personal
  • Make your own flash cards
  • Take risks
  • Make the most of your time in class:
  • Do your homework:
  • Break your study time in small chunks:
  • Add a bit of fun
  • Immerge yourself in the language
  • Speak it
  • Try it
  • Get a linguistic toolbox
And never forget to…..
Studying a language will be highly rewarding. In this instance, learning French means breaking communication barriers, enriching your world with a new culture, learning about others but also learning about yourself and your own mother-tongue. You will be able to better understand your French speaking friends not only because now you can speak their language but because you will also be in touch with their culture and ultimately get a true and fulfilling experience. Learning languages will also mean having fun and being able to travel independently and in the process getting to know more about these countries than you would have by only meeting the English speaking natives.
Even if mastering a language requires time and efforts, you will be highly rewarded with an immense sense of achievement once you will reach a certain level of competence.
Here are some suggestions on how to make your journey easier and more enjoyable while applying methods and techniques to learning effectively without wasting time and loosing focus.

Make it personal
.While you work on the handouts and material that I am supplying, write up all the new words and phrases in your personal pocket notebook and try to make them relevant to you. If you have just learnt the professions, associate every member of your whole family tree with their profession in French with the correct syntax (Paul is an architect = Paul est architecte –no un or une with profession in French). If you are an only child, make a list your friends and their trade. Repeat them in your dull moments during your busy day. Stick words around the house, make shopping lists in French.
Make your own flash cards
Write the French word on one side and the English translation on the other. Try to memorize the words and then shuffle the cards and look for the right translation. Keep on average 20 cards. Once you have retained the word, take it out and add another card. At the end of the week, test yourself with the whole packet of cards or get your partner or kids to do it. This might have extraordinary results on your relationship or their school report.
Take risks
Remember that the important thing is to get your message across. If you don’t remember particular words, try to think about alternatives: words that have the same meaning or give descriptions ( sailboat could be describe as a boat with sheet of fabric, no engine).
In desperate cases, give a French twist to an English word and pronounce it according to the language you are learning. It might work and the only thing you’ll risk, is to be understood!
Make the most of your time in class
Participate actively to the class’ tasks and coral activities.
Since our life is generally very hectic, it can be difficult to find time or even little time to study a language outside the class, participating to the lesson is a great opportunity (along with other steps) in our way to learn. Let’s say that participating to a class is like being in France for an hour or so a week. It gives you the opportunity to live for a while outside your everyday environment allowing you to travel there while you are effectively 2 minutes from your desk. Cool isn’t it?
Do your homework
Homework offers such a great opportunity to really focus on structures and grammar as well as functions. While during conversations we don’t have much time to think about genders and verb congregations’ rules, during our homework we have the time to think about those rules and to correct our mistakes as well as reinforcing our knowledge. When doing homework think carefully about the purpose of the exercise, which structures and functions they want you to use in that particular instance. Try to get increasingly familiar with your lesson’s material till you will be able to master it without any effort. This will result in increasing your speed and fluency in the language and your ability to learn will be much greater.
Well this is my ideal world…. But I know that’s sometimes impossible for you to find the time. Never use the lack of completed homework for not attending a class. Coming to the class will always be beneficial.
Break your study time in small chunks
It is counterproductive to dedicate long time in one go to study the language. Instead of study 3 hours in one day ( generally on the eve of your class), try to study no more than 30 minutes per day and break the time in twice or even 3 slots during the day. Furthermore, if your day is full of dull moments that can be transformed into mini lessons: try for instance to repeat vocabulary during breakfast time, count number under the shower, do your shopping list in French or glance at your vocabulary list while waiting for the lift.
Add a bit of fun
Listen to some French music and sing it out and aloud. With the internet at hand, it wouldn’t be difficult to download some authentic music for you to listen to. Singing will reinforce your pronunciation and your listening comprehension will be greatly improved as well as your speed in speaking and general fluency.
Immerge yourself in the language
Surround yourself with authentic material as much as possible: nowadays it is possible to have cable television with many foreign channels. Pick up news and programs in French (Le Monde is sold literally 2mn from Eland House): this will add fun to your learning process as watching film and news will be really intriguing and it will help your lateral thinking skills. It is very important to listen and get used to the real speed as well as different accents. At the very beginning it will be difficult to understand even a single word but then it will be coming easier and your brain will absorb much better the overall learning process.
Speak it
Also try to make friends with French speaking people that speak your language. If you live in London, it should not be difficult to come across some French people (even without  hanging out in South Ken)
Try it
Look forwards to put all this hard work in practice and book yourself a short break in the country whose language you are studying (not Paris, remember you want to speak French! Lille is only 1h20 away). By programming one foreign trip to France when you start studying French, you will boost motivation to study when you don’t have time.
Get a linguistic toolbox
From Day One, get familiar with some essential phrases like could you repeat more slowly please?( Pouvez-vous répéter plus lentement s’il vous plait?), how do you say this in French ( Comment vous dites ça en français)…,what does this mean ? ( Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire?), I don’t understand ( Je ne comprends pas) or I haven’t understood…(Je n’ai pas compris)” from the beginning. Do not be shy and use them as they will allow you to be pro-active in your language acquisition process.
And never forget to…..
As a beginner linguist, expect to understand very little initially and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Language learning is a process that require a certain degree of patience and acceptance of making mistakes, which is normal –remember how many times you said ‘yes, it’s a car, a red car” to you toddler?-. As long as you keep hearing, reading the correct structures, you will learn them. Students will learn at a different pace. Even advanced students can also experience the feeling that they are not progressing. Progress in language learning is made by reaching several plateaux. Do not despair when reaching one, your brain is only processing the amount of information you have been feeding it.
Do not underestimate lateral thinking learning. No matter how slow, as long as you keep listening and talking you will add new information and suddenly your brain will absorb this without you even realising unlocking your ability to learn new structures and vocabulary. If you feel you are making little progress, try to revise old material or do more exercises and you should improve sooner or later.