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How to Learn French Fast : 12 Top Tips To Help You Learn Fast

Learn French Fast

Learning a new language opens up a world of words that don’t exist in your native tongue and introduces you to thousands of new people to talk to! The price of stepping into this world is studying for hours to learn a language.

Foreign Service Institute (FSI), the authority in the language learning training, states that it takes an average of 580 hours of study to learn French, but if you discover how to learn French fast with the best language-learning strategies, you can speed up that timeframe!

12 Top Tips to Help You Learn French Fast

Taking a class or signing up for an app-based French course can help you cover all the key concepts as you learn French, but you also need to consider the best learning strategies for you. 

These twelve tips will help you take on extracurricular French activities and also focus your structured learning time. 

1. Listen to Learn 

One of the best ways to speed up your French learning timeframe is to choose a learning program that focuses on listening comprehension. 

English speakers often have a hard time deciphering spoken French because French uses linguistic sounds that English does not. It also contains words with silent letters that can make separate words sound as if they run together.

You also have to consider complications like French idioms and accents. All of these linguistic complexities make it quite difficult for a newbie trying to master basic vocabulary to understand a word anyone says!

The best way to master this challenge is to find a learning program that focuses on listening comprehension. Look for a program that features listening lessons with native French speakers. For example, the StoryLearning French Uncovered begins each immersive lesson with a story told by a native French speaker.

2. Avoid the Pain of Pronunciation 

French may be the language of love, but your tongue won’t love speaking it at first! French pronunciation presents a serious challenge to a native English speaker because French features sounds like nasal vowels and R’s spoken from the back of the throat. 

English doesn’t use these sounds, which means your brain won’t recognize them as meaningful and your tongue will not know how to shape them. For example, to speak a nasal vowel you allow air to flow through both your nasal passages and the oral cavity of your mouth instead of just shaping the sound with your mouth and tongue.

The best way to overcome the pain of pronunciation is to practice, practice, practice. Better yet, sign yourself up for a program that features voice recognition software. For example, Pimsleur’s French app offers extensive guided pronunciation within each lesson and offers a great way to get started on those tricky French sounds.

3. Practice Practical Vocabulary 

Another great way to learn French more quickly is to select a language learning program that focuses on practical, everyday words and vocabulary. Classroom French with its formulaic phrases and formal constructs might get you an A+, but it will not help you a lot on the streets of Paris!

Like every language, modern French has its own collection of idioms, slang, and filler words. Plus, French has different words for formal and informal modes of address. For example, tu and vous both mean “you,” but you use tu when speaking to a close acquaintance, and the formal vous to speak with a stranger or to show respect.

Choosing a learning program that focuses on real-life, informal language will help you sound like a native speaker faster than a traditional classroom approach. You may want to consider FrenchPod101, which focuses on teaching you words, phrases, and grammar that you will find helpful in everyday conversation.

4. Schedule Your Study Time

Scheduling study time will speed up your French learning process immensely. First, scheduling your study time means that it will not get pushed to the back burner.  Second, planning regular, timed sessions will help your brain retain what you learn better than cramming in four or five hours of study at the end of a week. 

One great way to find regular study time is to do a time audit on yourself. Use a free online resource like Google Calendar and type in what you do every hour for a day or even for a week. Then look back to see where you have a free half hour to study French!

Finally, intentionally scheduling your study time can also mean slotting in time for specific kinds of study, like vocabulary memorization, listening comprehension, and conversation. This allows you to develop all the skills you need in French and keep on track in each one!

5. Hack Immersion Learning

If you get a chance to dive into an immersive environment by visiting a French-speaking country, go for it! Immersion learning can increase your knowledge of French by leaps and bounds. Your brain will soak up the sounds of the new language, helping you master listening comprehension, vocabulary, and pronunciation in record time.

But if you can’t afford a vacation or study abroad program, you can hack the idea of immersion learning by using these cool tricks.

Immersion learning means surrounding yourself with French in areas of your life outside the classroom.

  • Take advantage of your downtime by swapping out English movies, TV shows, and podcasts for entertainment in French.
  •  Change the language settings on your phone and computer to French, and force yourself to improve your reading and writing skills.
  • Attend a class taught by a native French speaker or select a learning program that includes listening comprehension lessons taught by a native French speaker.

6. Sing to Learn Sounds

Another way to immerse yourself in French and accelerate your language-learning process is to listen to French songs. When you sing a word, you often draw out separate sounds so that the syllables become more distinct. Both listening to and singing songs in French will help you master the new sounds of the language.

Plus, music helps you remember new words and concepts better than simply reading them on the page or screen. Harvard Health recently released a study stating that music activates areas of the brain responsible for memory. 

Where can you listen to French songs? Download playlists for free on Spotify or search for popular French pop stars like Poupie and Jain on iTunes. 

7. Focus on French Films 

You can often find ways to improve your French learning speed by combining more than one immersive activity at once. Watching French films or TV shows offers many opportunities for this multi-tasking study strategy!

  • Try pausing your movie and repeating what a character just said out loud. Or, as you get more advanced, imagine what you would say in response to the movie character and speak that phrase out loud!
  •  Turn on the subtitles in French and practice your literary skill as well as your listening comprehension.
  • For a real challenge, pause the movie every thirty seconds and transcribe everything you just heard. You can translate into English at first, but as you get more advanced you can transcribe in French to practice your writing skills!

8. Converse Constantly

You may not have the opportunity to speak only in French, but you can increase your learning speed dramatically by finding many opportunities to hold conversations in French.

One of the easiest ways to practice French conversation from your home is to sign up for a free conversation app like HelloTalk. Conversation apps connect you to a global network of native speakers and other language learners. They allow you to build long-distance relationships so you feel safe testing out your new skills.

After all, building up a stockpile of Frech words in your mind won’t do you any good if you don’t actually practice using them!

9. Master Memorization

One of the most important ways to condense the time it takes you to learn French is to use the right memorization strategies. When you dive in to learn a new language, you often start with an app or textbook that teaches you to memorize lists of vocabulary words.

This does not work efficiently because this way of memorizing just stashes each word in your short-term memory. You can access the word for a quiz, but you won’t remember it a few days later!

Instead, use a program or free app that teaches vocabulary using a spaced repetition system, or SRS. The SRS method uses spaced reminders about each word or phrase to help you recall it. Over time this stores the vocabulary in your permanent, active memory!

Free flashcard-style apps like Vocabulary Miner or Anki can help you make the most of your memorization.

10. Wise Up with a Wordcount 

How many vocabulary words do you need to memorize in order to effectively speak French? Giving yourself a goal of learning 1,000 practical words and phrases can condense your learning process and help you learn French more quickly.

The fact of the matter is that native speakers of any language don’t use every word in that language on a daily basis. You probably come across English words you don’t know quite often, too! According to the Economist, native speakers of any language often only have a working knowledge of about 20,000 words.

You can aim to attain that 20,000 someday, but start by building up 1,000 words of practical vocabulary to help you navigate everyday life.

11. Take a Crash Course in Connectors

Another way to speed up your French-speaking ability is to educate yourself on conversational connectors. This means phrases that help the flow from one meaningful part of the conversation to another.

When you chat with a friend, you probably add phrases like “you know?” or “in my opinion” without even thinking about it. French speakers do this as well in a smoothly flowing conversation, using phrases like c’est á dire, or “that is to say” and d’autre part, or “on the other hand.”

The best way to build your skill with connectors is to converse with native speakers and pay attention to the way they connect phrases and words within a sentence. If you do not know anyone who is a native French speaker, try one of the conversation apps recommended in this article to get started.

You can also build up your skill with connectors by using full sentences when you speak French out loud. 

12. Fail Your Way to Success

Finally, one of the most important ways you can increase your speed as you learn French is to let go of the pride, embarrassment, or even good intentions that prevent you from practicing.

Once in a while, someone might laugh if you mispronounce a word during a conversation in French, it’s true. But most native speakers will welcome your attempt to communicate in their native tongue.

Sometimes you may hold back from speaking in your beginner-level French because you worry that you will offend someone by using the wrong word or phrase. While good-intentioned, this will also inhibit your language learning speed. Do your best and if you do accidentally say something rude, offer a genuine apology and move on!

Developing your resilience will allow you to quickly bounce back after minor errors and keep on learning the beautiful French language.

FAQs

How Can I Learn French Fast at Home?

The best way to learn French fast at home, rather than in a classroom, is to sign up for a comprehensive language program that covers all the skills you need, such as vocabulary, pronunciation, listening comprehension, and grammar. 

A program like the Pimsleur French app that you read about in this article features lessons on all of these skills. It also uses a Spaced Repetition System to engage your long-term memory as you study. 

Can I Learn French Fast for Free?

You can learn French fast for free, but you often have to put in a lot of legwork to piece together free resources to help you study. Plus, paid learning resources typically include more tools and a greater wealth of knowledge than free learning tools.

That said, you can definitely get started learning French for free with fun resources like the Duolingo or Memrise apps.

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