10 Tips for Teaching Yourself French

Here's a fact for you, French is actually one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.  We anglophones have William the Conqueror and several years of Norman occupation to thank for a third of the words in the English language.  Anyone that has attempted to converse with a French speaker knows that pronouncing English words with a  heavy French accent will almost always get you out of a tight spot.  Lexically, English has more in common with French than any other Romance language and is a good choice if you're interested in teaching yourself a language.

With this in mind, we have compiled a list of ten tips to help you on your way to French fluency, all without setting foot in a


1. Little and often
With language learning, repetition is key. One of the main challenges you will face when attempting to teach yourself a language will be forcing yourself to study regularly.  This need not be hours at a time, research has shown that as little as twenty minutes of study a day, reviewing as you go, is more beneficial to your progress than a weekly 2 hours.  That being said, the more work you do, the faster you'll progress.

This is an approximate estimate from ILA France of the time needed to reach each level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages :

A1 (beginner) : 60 hours
A2 (elementary) : 160 hours
B1 (intermediate) : 310 hours
B2 (upper intermediate) : 490 hours
C1 (advanced) : 690 hours
C2 (mastery) : 890 hours


2. Stay organised


You will probably be making lots of notes, particularly when it comes to grammar rules.  Don't let piles of paper overwhelm you and stock up on stationary to help you keep everything in order.  Having separate notebooks for grammar, vocabulary and general notes is a good way to do this.  Use diffent colours when writing  to make it easier to see particular elements of a sentence at a glance.



3. Read
It is strongly recommended to use a textbook to teach yourself French grammar but there's no need to spend hours poring over pages of complicated rules.  Reading literature is a great way to build vocabulary and to see grammar used in context.  Start with children's literature or a novel you've read before. If you don't feel up to tackling a whole book just yet, take to the internet to read news articles, for example le Monde. This is also a great way to get your daily practice. Here is a great list of intermediate level books to get you started.


4. Watch TV

Listening is crucial to effective language learning.  One of the best ways to get practice is to watch TV in french.  Again, a
good place to start is by watching childrens films or programmes.  Try watching a film with French subtitles instead of English to help you associate the written word with what's being said.  Watching TV will help tune your ear to the way spoken French sounds and will introduce you to everyday vocab and common phrases in conversation.  Click here to see a list of Franglish's favourite French films or here for a guide to the best French TV series for learning French.


5. Listen to music
One of the easiest methods for picking up language is listening to music. The repetition will help you to memorise vocab and singing along will do wonders for your pronunciation.  You can stick your headphones on pretty much anywhere so this is a great tip for those who lead a busier life.  Franglish has put together two playlists of french songs which can be found here.


6. Learn your vocab


It's all very well picking up odments of vocab from books and films but to make the words stick it's important to use words soon after learning them.  Flashcards are a great way to review extensive lists of vocabulary and the repetition will help you to retain words and phrases.  Grouping words together will also help you to remember them, whereas trying to learn opposites together (e.g. Fast/slow; push/pull) may hinder your progress.  Include colours and pictures to help you visualise the words. 


7. Use your phone
While the French have stolen many English words when it comes to social media, changing your phone settings to French could intensify your learning experience and you'll learn a significant amount of technology vocab.  Use the notes tool to jot down words and phrases while you're out and about and raid the app store for free dictionary apps such as WordReference, and apps for grammar and vocab practice, for example Duolingo.  A list of the best apps for translation can be found here.


8. Get online

The internet is brimming with useful stuff for language learners!  Blogs are a great way to get into reading in french and it will be easy to find articles on something that interests you.  Ma Vie Française is a great blog to start with, as most articles are written in both French an English, and articles cover everything from society and current events to the best hot chocolate in Paris.  YouTube is also a great tool for language instruction, allowing individual creators to upload content on everything from grammar rules to cultural differences, here is a list of some great channels for learning French.  Podcasts are fab for those who want to learn on the go, subscribe and listen when out and about.  The Talk in French podcast covers french culture and language.


9. Record yourself


If you don't have a French friend to chat to, using a dictaphone to record yourself speaking can be a great way to correct your pronunciation and accent.  Record lists of vocabulary to replay to yourself when you're out.  Keeping your recordings is a great way to chart your improvement.


10. Make mistakes



Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Errors are inevitable when speaking a foreign language and are usually a great learning experience. Try not to worry about verb endings or prepositions, native speakers will be happy to correct you.  Don't let your mistakes discourage you, be open to corrections and speaking will become more natural.  Making a note of your errors will allow you to review them later on and help you to remember the corrections. 



Image credits: All pixabay.com

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