June 15

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10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier About Learning French

Of course, I make mistakes. I'm human. If I didn't make mistakes, I'd never learn. You can only go forward by making mistakes.

Alexander McQueen

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I'm not going to lie, I've had a lot of trouble learning French. But it's worth it! In this post, I'll tell you some things that have helped me and maybe they'll help you too. I've learned a lot about the language, as well as how to learn it. The most important thing is that you need to be patient and consistent. Learning another language is not easy, but it’s also not impossible!

Start with your interests – if you're interested in cooking, French cooking is a great place to start.

I'm a Francophile who also likes to cook, so why not stack the skills? 

I also love fashion, so why not learn about fashion in French while I'm at it?

I've always found that the best way to learn a language is by immersing myself in it. So when I first started learning French, one of the things that helped me was figuring out the meaning (names) of dishes and apparel. For example, prêt à porter (ready to wear) or matelassé(e) (quilted). I learned the later when I was looking for a handbag, and this word kept coming up. This tip also comes in handy when practicing Italian.

Find the right level for you – don't feel like you have to start at beginner and work up from there

Do you feel like you're not good enough to start at the beginner level of French? You can always find a more appropriate level for yourself. For example, maybe your vocabulary is too advanced, or perhaps you have trouble pronouncing certain letters. There are many different levels of French out there, and it's up to you to choose one that will work best for you!

If you're looking to learn French, there are many free resources online. And the first step is figuring out where you stand on the spectrum of learning – beginner, intermediate or advanced. Then, once you've determined your level, find a resource that's designed for your skillset! I know it can be tough to start and work your way up when all those cool words and phrases look appealing. But don't worry- just because you can't use them yet doesn't mean they won't come in handy later on down the line!

Don't be afraid of making mistakes! It's all part of learning a language

The French language is tricky. You have to learn how to speak it with a perfect accent, use the proper grammar and vocabulary, know all the idioms, and make sure you don't accidentally insult anyone. It's impossible!

But what if I told you that making mistakes was part of learning? That's right – every time you make a mistake in your speech or writing (like mixing up your words), you are strengthening your understanding of the language because your brain is working hard to figure out what word or sentence structure would be appropriate. When we get tripped up on questions like “Quelle heure est-il?” or “Qu'est-ce que c'est?”, our brains light up with activity. 

When you're learning a new language, there will inevitably be mistakes made. One of the essential steps in the process is to make a mistake and then learn from it! So stop being afraid of making mistakes because they are all part of learning how to speak French.

Be patient with yourself and know that it will take time to learn this new skill.

It's frustrating when you can't express yourself in a language that is not your native tongue. You see this all the time with people who are learning French. They try to say something, and it just doesn't come outright, but they keep trying because they know it will eventually click. So don't be too hard on yourself! We get it; we're also learning how to speak French every day.

Practice every day!

What's the best way to improve your French? Practice every day! I know it isn't the sexiest advice and you may be thinking, “I can't do that!” But you're mistaken. You might not know what to practice or how, but it doesn't matter. It's all about doing something every day to get better at speaking and understanding French. Learning a language is no easy feat. It takes time and patience to get it right, but the journey will be rewarding when you finally reach your destination!

Listen to podcasts while doing other things, such as driving or walking the dog (bonus points if they are in French!)

As you can probably tell, I'm all about stacking skills, tasks, and habits. It's one of the reasons why I love listening to podcasts in my spare time. One of the best things about them is that you can listen to them while doing other things, like cleaning or walking your dog. 

Do you find it hard to follow French podcasts? Do you have difficulty concentrating on what's being said and keeping up with the conversation? Here are a few tips for listening to podcasts while doing other things. 

  1. Listen at 1.5x or 2x speed (depending on your level of proficiency). This way, when you listen to an episode again after practicing conversational French, it will seem like average speech speed. 
  2. Take notes as if you were in class and had a pen in hand. Write down vocabulary words that are new to you or phrases that might be useful later on; they're often repeated throughout the podcast anyway! 
  3. Try pausing the podcast every once in a while. 

Find a good frequency dictionary. Notice I didn't say bilingual?

For those of you who are French learners and need to find a good frequency dictionary, I recommend this one:

It's okay not to know everything about every topic when speaking French.

So you're sitting there, listening to your teacher talks about a topic you have never heard of before. You catch yourself thinking, “I'm going to look like an idiot if I ask what that word means….” Don't worry! You are not alone. The French language is full of words with little or no English equivalent, and it's okay not to know them all. So be curious and ask questions!

Use the internet as much as possible – there are so many resources!

It's not always easy to find good resources for learning a language. If you're looking for a great way to learn French, I've got some resources to help. It's hard to know where to start when it comes to learning a new language, but I've compiled some of my favorite tools on the French language learning resources page. You'll find everything from podcasts and books to apps and YouTube videos! So don't anything hold you back from learning this beautiful language – just get started!

Always have fun and remember why you started to learn French.

If you're reading this, then the chances are that you've been learning French for a while. That's because languages take time and effort to learn. But don't worry! Learning a language is fun and makes the world seem like an even more prominent place than before. So keep on doing what you love, and never forget why you started in the first place. Whatever your reason is: keep on going! It will make all the difference when you finally reach fluency.

*Hey, this page contains affiliate links. There's no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission when you decide to use them. They help me keep this party going.


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