French language is an intricate language that involves many rules that are quite different from the English language. For English speakers, learning French is not always an easy task. In many of the French words, some letters are spelled out but only remain silent for reasons that most French speakers don’t even understand. Moreover, special characters that are not part of the English alphabet are present in French language, like Ç, Ǽ, and Œ. Some letters or characters, on the other hand, take on multiple sounds. However, no matter how complex it is to learn the French language, the success of this process lies in six simple steps.
First of all, learning the French language starts by having a sense of motivation. Without this, a person will find it easy to procrastinate. Furthermore, even the smallest challenges in the learning process will make it easy for a person to give up. Motivation is definitely one of the key steps to successful language learning. One way to express motivation is by having a dedicated journal or notebook for the task. This journal will be a vital tool in taking the next five steps.
Second, it is important to know the key vocabulary of the French language because this will include common words that a learner will almost always encounter. Just like a child who is just starting to learn his native language, it is important to start with the basic. In order to do this, the learner must use his journal and write down key vocabulary in English then find out its translation in French. For instance, the learner may start with several categories, such as greetings, pronouns, and common nouns. In the greetings category, for example, the learner may write the most common ones, such as Bonjour (Hello or Good Morning), Salut (Hi), Coucou (Hey there), and other salutations. While listing down the most common words in French, the learner must also write down and be familiar with the French alphabet because some characters are not the same as the English characters. Knowing the key vocabulary by understanding their meaning, correct spelling, and proper pronunciation will give the learner a good head start.
Once a learner is familiar with the most common words in the French language, the next step is to understand how these words are put to use. If a learner does not know how the French words are properly used, he may send out a different meaning. For instance, both of the words “Allô” and “Bonjour” mean “Hello” in English; however, Bonjour is used to greet someone either in informal or formal settings while the word “Allô” is not used as a greeting. Instead, it can be used when answering the phone in order to confirm if someone is on the other end. Now, one way to start understanding how words are put into context is to read French children’s books while having a French dictionary around. Children’s books are filled with visuals that help with understanding and information retention. Of course, using other reading materials will also be helpful in the process.
After acquiring knowledge with common words, understanding how they are spelled, pronounced, and how they can be used, the next step is to take the learning to another level by being familiar with grammar usage and sentence structure. These are important aspects because one cannot communicate properly in French without understanding basic French grammar or without knowing the correct way of constructing sentences. The best way to do this is to have a tutorial or handbook that teaches French grammar and other aspects of writing. Now, learning takes place by doing, so aside from having resources about these topics, the knowledge must be put to use. For instance, using an English children’s book, the learner may practice by translating the story into French. Writing the translation down into the journal is a good practice because it will allow him to review and assess his own work. If there is anything that he is not sure about, he may consult his tutorial material or ask someone who knows the language to check his work for him. An English children’s book is a good starter tool because the sentences are short and simple.
The fifth step in the process of learning French is immersion. Immersion means that the learner has to be surrounded by the language on a day to day basis. This will result to an even deeper and stronger familiarity with French. For example, the learner may want to put French labels into his things or he may stick these labels to the different parts of his house. He may put labels like “table à manger,” for the dining table, “réfrigérateur” for the refrigerator, and “machine à café” for the coffee maker. Aside from using labels, one can be immersed into the French language by listening to French music. When choosing a song, it is important that the learner is also familiar with what the song means. Hearing without understanding is meaningless because the sense of the language will not be retained in the mind. In addition, immersion can also be done by watching French TV programs or movies. Most French movies have English subtitles which are helpful in understanding what the characters are saying and what the words stand for. This is a good way of familiarizing with French grammar as well. While watching, the learner may repeat the lines being said as a way to practice or he may want to write down some lines that are new to him. This way, he has something to study further after watching. Immersion may also be done by visiting a French store. Being physically surrounded with products and things that have French labels may help ignite continuous passion for learning the language. Also, reading the product labels is a good way to enhance one’s vocabulary. Similarly, regularly visiting French restaurants is a good idea for French language immersion. The ambiance would be a perfect fuel to open one’s mind to new learning, which can happen by reading on the menu and actually making an order in French. This experience may also help boost one’s confidence in using the language, and it may further enhance the motivation to continue learning.
Lastly, the learner needs to use his knowledge by talking in French. One may know lots of French words and may understand French grammar, but without actually talking and conversing in French, the learner will not grow and develop his newly acquired skills. If one has a friend who knows how to speak in French, he may ask him/her for a talk at least a few times a. If the learner does not have friends or relatives who can speak in French, then, he may try to look for an online community who supports those who wants to learn the language. Another way is to enroll in a short French language course, which is probably offered online as well. There are programs that offer one-on-one talk between students and instructors. This is a good venue to apply and practice French speaking.
Overall, as complex as it may seem, learning the French language can be an easy task. The first key step is to be motivated and to stay motivated to learn. Second, one needs to know and be familiar with the key vocabulary - how they are spelled and how they are properly pronounced. Third, it is important to understand how these words are used and in what context they can be used. Again, some words may seem to mean the same thing even if they don’t. Fourth, one needs to learn grammar usage and sentence structure. Fifth, the learner must be immersed in the French language by listening to songs, watching TV programs or movies, and visiting French stores or restaurants. Lastly, learning French requires talking, talking, and talking. Successful learning of the French language cannot take place without actually putting it into practice. Indeed, learning French is not as hard as it may seem.