How to learn French quickly: 10 tips
Parles-tu Français? Non? Soon, we’ll have you saying, ‘Oui! Oui! Oui!’ If you’ve decided to join almost 300 million French speakers and learn the world’s fifth most widely spoken language, there’s no time to waste.
Not quite sure how to get started? Here’s our list of ten handy tips to help you learn French quickly.
Start by thinking about the vocabulary that you will need the most. Identify the situations you are most likely to experience — like speaking to friends about your weekend plans. It can help to role play and practice them. This way, you’ll be better prepared when they happen in real life, giving you more confidence to enjoy the conversation and go beyond the basics.
2. Read, read, read
Local news, social media posts, the back of your cereal box — read anything and everything! If it’s available in French, we say: devour it. Children’s books and young adult fiction are a fantastic place to get to grips with grammar and spelling, and you can get into longer novels as your French improves. Reading the news in French helps you be part of conversations around current affairs, and magazines have more culturally-relevant language than classroom textbooks or classic books.
3. Listen to podcasts
Need to practice following a conversation in French? Look no further than podcasts. This is doubly useful, as it is easy to listen while you’re doing other things; suddenly activities like doing chores or walking to class become time to also reinforce your French. It’s multitasking for multilingualism!
If you don’t know what a new word is, don’t skip over it. Translate it immediately! If you’re reading, whip out your phone to do a quick search, and if you hear it in conversation, just ask the person who said it. They’ll likely be happy to assist you and give examples of how to use it in context.
5. Study abroad
Nothing will turbo-charge your language learning like studying in France. Whether you’re there for a few weeks or for a few months, being completely immersed in the French language does wonders for your skills. From taking the bus to class to staying with a host family, you’ll read and hear French wherever you go — constantly building mental connections and forming strong language memories. Through problem-solving and practice you’ll see your accent improve, your vocabulary expand, and your conversational confidence grow much faster than learning at home.
6. Follow influencers
Add French-speaking influencers to your follow lists. Understanding different accents and humor will start to feel effortless as you watch their content regularly. Choose topics that you’re interested in and you’ll also pick up lots of new vocabulary, expressions and slang that are relevant to your passions.
7. Watch TV
Start by watching your favorite sitcoms and change the audio and subtitle languages between French and your native language, depending on how your skills are progressing. Scripted TV shows are great for understanding conversational norms like dialogue speed and informal banter. As you get more confident, watch shows that are made in French, like Call My Agent! and Lupin, as these are better teachers of French culture and sense of humor.
8. Accept your mistakes
We all get things wrong and it’s an unavoidable truth that you’re going to make plenty of mistakes when you learn any new language. From mispronunciations and funky sentence structures, to incorrectly using masculine or feminine articles, don’t be scared of fumbling your French a little to start with. Recognizing your mistakes is an essential part of learning from them.
9. Make notes
You’ll thank us for this one. As you start learning, make notes of French vocabulary, expressions or slang that you find useful. The act of writing it down helps you to memorize it, and you end up with a really handy go-to list for when you need to quickly find the right words. Make the list on your phone so that it’s always nearby when you need it.
10. Find friends who are doing it too…
…and make time to practice with them. Your fellow French-learners may have the same questions as you, so you can learn together. Or, you may have different strengths and be able to support each other with your problems. Plus, they’re the perfect companions for learning more about French culture; make plans to go to French cinema, live music, or theater performances together.