How easy is it to learn French?
Spoken by over 274 million people across the globe, this language belongs to the big five Romance languages. The language of love is an official language in 29 countries across multiple continents. French is not a very difficult language which most people will try to convince you to believe. At the same time French reading isn’t quite as straightforward as other Romance languages you may have studied, or heard of. Unless you approach it in the right manner. It’s also a language that inspires fear in learners because of its notoriously tricky pronunciation. So, the question arises, how easy or difficult is it to learn French?
Let’s first analyze French factually:
The FSI, US Foreign Service Institute, divides languages into groups of difficulty for speakers of English:
Group 1: French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili
Group 2: Bulgarian, Burmese, Greek, Hindi, Persian, Urdu
Group 3: Amharic, Cambodian, Czech, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Lao, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
Group 4: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean
FSI research indicates that it takes 480 hours to reach basic fluency in group 1 languages, and 720 hours for group 2-4 languages. So, statistically, similar to that of some other romance languages, French is one of the easiest languages to learn when compared to some other languages.
Now let’s take into consideration some other factors.
People who speak romance languages may find that French is more difficult to pronounce or they find the spelling a bit weird. However, grammar like the subjunctive and verb conjugations could be child’s play for them. Somebody who speaks English natively, may find the grammar rules difficult but enjoys the fact that French shares over 2,000 words with their language. That means, French may be easy for a set of group of people and harder for another.
Another important factor is the way you choose to learn French. If you decide to take up official classes, then the language will automatically become much easier to learn due to the fact that you’re receiving expert guidance from certified trainers. On the other hand, if you decide to learn the language on your own, then you might face some troubles and that might slow you down and make it difficult for you to master the language. French can be easy to learn if you’re motivated to learning it, yet the difficulty and time spent learning varies from person to person.
In all honesty, the real difficult part about learning this language is purely its pronunciation. French has a huge number of vowels. Many of these vowels are new for an English speaker and mastering the pronunciation may take some time. Spanish and Italian are easier than French in this regard because they only have about five. Other than that, there isn’t really any pure difficulty regarding learning the language.
With that being said, it is important to remember that at the end of the day, the level of difficulty or ease when learning a language truly depends on the learner themselves. French is no stranger to this notion. While it clearly is the easiest language to learn on the board, if definitely isn’t easy for every individual when we take into consideration that not all of us natively speak English. But with determination and constant practice, you can master French in no time.