How difficult it is to learn French for Indians?
French is a Romance language and is also recognized by the United Nations as a global language. It is a very influential language as it is a language of culture, including art, cuisine, dance, and fashion. Learning French will help you improve your artistic and critical thinking skills. French allows you to enter the culture of over 300 million French speakers in more than 50 countries worldwide.
When learning a new language such as French, it’s quite normal to have many questions and concerns with respect to how long it will take to learn the nuances, dialect, idioms, slangs to be able to speak like a native speaker.
I don’t want to discourage or dishearten you but as a non-native French speaker, you must bear in mind that, you will never be able to develop the native fluency that every French speaker possesses, owing to the exposure they received in French from a young age! So be realistic! And let it sink into you. Your goal, on the contrary, should be to enhance your speaking abilities and become fluent, to a level where you are understood clearly, without a scope of misunderstanding, by the native French speakers!
If you’re serious about learning French and you’d like to consider your options, here’s what you should know: everyone’s experience is different. How quickly you learn French is dependent upon many personal and external factors, including how much time of time you can commit each day, what types of methods you’re using to learn, do you have adequate support and resources, do you have a trainer to help you improve your French skills, do you have a conversational speaker to practice your skills with, have you learnt any Romance language before, etc.
Your learning is also dependent on your goals! Your objective decides how fast you will be able to learn the language! If you’re driven, excited and hungry to master French, you’ll be fluent before you know it. If you are going to pursue the language, giving it adequate time with complete dedication diligently, using the right resources, seeking help as needed, enrolling in an online course, then you certainly will have a shorter path to learning. The best motivation for a person to learn anything comes when they want to do it for themselves!
FSI – Foreign Service Institute, USA has classified languages according to difficulty levels for English language speakers. Please note this information is valid for an Indian who is proficient in English and not otherwise!
French falls into Category 1 of the classification. In other words, French is considered one of the easiest languages to learn because it is “closely related” to English. And according to the FSI, it would take an English speaker approximately 23-24 weeks or 575-600 hours of study to become proficient in the French language.
Where do learners encounter difficulty?
Difficulties can range from an inherent fear of learning a new language to doubts on its success after spending time and efforts and in some cases money!
Learning a Romance language for the first time will require a strong intent, will, resolution, a lot of effort and some homework such as past tense and subject-verb agreement. If you commit to this early and often, you can quickly ramp up to the level of someone who already knows a romance language else it’s not worth jumping in!
Overlooking the existence of false cognates!
French may be the first language to be learnt, not just a Romance Language! Each subsequent language learnt, makes you a pro to know the method of learning on your own, so if you don’t have prior learning experience it would be tough to begin with.
Are you aware of the best method that works for you when learning? Are you more of a visual learner, auditory or kinesthetic?
Do you have any exposure to the French language? Such as in school, or are you aware of basic French in other words you have a bit of foundation to build on?
If you are devoid of access to a community of French-speaking people you are certainly at a disadvantage. And in India, I myself have no idea if that even exists!
Practising with Conversation Partners is an important part of the learning process, and access to French speakers gives you more opportunities to actually use your French skills. If you don’t have anyone to practise with…it’s going to make your life miserable!
Kids pick up information without apprehension and internalize it better. So how old you are will play a great role in your learning!
Learners who wish to master spoken or business French or learn only the basics may be slightly better off than those who intend to give their DELF/DALF exams.
One important piece of advice – unless you approach learning any new thing with complete heart and soul, efforts, dedicated time, motivation, excitement, chalked-out schedule and commitment you will never make any progress. Same goes for learning a language or learning French. So, is this just a ‘let’s try’ option or do you really want to do it?
Have you or haven’t you prepared yourself to what’s required to learn French? If you would have explored the various ways to achieve success in Learning French only then will you stay afloat!
Without an intent, a conviction and the need to learn you will not get any far.
If you are someone who will abandon something in the midst of pursuing it, due to difficulties then this is just not for you. You need to be a self-motivator, someone who can stand up in the face of adversities.
Having unrealistic goals or overambitious expectation can lead you straight to failure.
One of the best ways to do so is by indulging in French movies and music, which can enhance your French listening skills and make challenging accents and dialects more familiar. If you’re lucky enough to live in France or another French-speaking country, French fluency may be easier to achieve in a shorter amount of time. Some people say that beginners can become fluent in one year, but that, of course, depends on your experiences abroad. Alternatively, knowing any of the languages can actually give you an edge in learning French because these languages share similar grammatical structures and vocabulary words called cognates. If you are not sure how to study the integral aspects of the language, start by learning the rules.
Now, after arming yourself with the above, you need to proactively judge all options available to you and select one that aligns your personal learning style with a right mix of speed and efficiency along with accuracy and fun. You could choose from online classes to online games, flashcards, audiobooks, podcasts, suitable playlists on Spotify, French movies on Netflix with English subtitles and English movies with French subtitles, joining a literary club, volunteer for French community events, open houses, community projects, apps such as Memrise, Multibhashi, Lingvist, Duolingo, to study or italki, couchsurfing meetup or any language exchange group to find conversation partners to practice spoken French with, workbooks, activities to pull pleasure textbook reading or online or offline courses taught why are the trainers all while choosing the right techniques to reach your goal.
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