French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spoken in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other languages d’oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France’s past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Around 80 million out of 300 million French speakers are native. As well as the 80 million native French speakers in the world, there are an estimated 220 million partial speakers, and these numbers are increasing. Owing to population growth in Africa, the total number of French speakers could rise to as much as 700 million by 2050, according to demographers.
The following 10 tips and tricks for french language learning will help you to get started!
1. Choose Your Language Wisely
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing which language you want to learn:
- Why you want to learn the language. Your personal motivation is crucial for your language learning success. It’s highly recommended to study a language that you are motivated to learn, whether it be for personal or professional reasons.
- How knowing the language can improve your life. Once again, the more a language can help to improve your life, the more motivated you will be to learn it. The more motivated you are to learn it, the easier, more fun, and faster it will be to learn the language. Choose a language that will bring you fulfillment.
- Know what resources are available to you. Some languages are easier to study than others simply because of the language learning resources available to you in your neighborhood, city, country, or online. Studying a language with easily accessible resources can save you time and money and help you to make your studies more varied, interactive and practical.
2. Yes, You Can
First and foremost, it’s important to know that you, yes, you, can learn a new language regardless of your age, previous experience, gender, native language, nationality, income, and schedule. While there is no denying that these things can play a role in how fast you learn a language, they cannot and do not prevent you from learning. Language learning is possible for everyone, especially you.
3. Know the Raíces, Racines, Radici, Radacini
I just wrote the word “roots” in four different languages that are derived from Latin. Due to a mixture of geography, history, politics, and time, these four languages (Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian) evolved in such a way that some of their vocabulary is very similar to that of Latin, as can be seen from their respective versions of the Latin word radicibus, meaning “root.”
Take the time to get to know your target language’s roots a little bit before diving in, and you’ll have more realistic expectations about what learning will entail.
4. Know the Language Basics
No, I’m not referring to knowing how to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “one beer, please” (although this is, of course, helpful). I’m referring to knowing how languages work, the basic parts of a language, and how this knowledge can help you as a learner.
One of the first steps in learning a language is to learn a little bit about what makes up a language and the unique aspects of the language you want to learn. To do this, keep in mind the roots of the language as well as several core linguistic aspects: phonetics (pronunciation), grammar, and culture. What does the alphabet look like? Are there any letters that are similar to those from your native language? What are the different verbs tenses in English, and are they the same in your target language? Are there more verb tenses? Less? Are there special words to show respect?
5. Stay Motivated
It’s no secret that motivation is crucial when learning a new language. Any quick Google search will find you countless studies that prove the importance of motivation in language learning. This is one of the main reasons why anyone–and I mean anyone–is able to learn a language: motivation is more important than any one of the excuses you may have for not learning a language.
Stay motivated. Focus on why you want to learn the language, how it will improve your life, and everything good that can come from learning a language. Learning a new language is always worth it.
6. Make a Plan and Stick to It
Set realistic goals and stick to them. If, for example, you have very little free time but still want to study, set aside an hour or two every week that you will dedicate to that language, no matter what. Make yourself a schedule based on your available resources, and tell those close to you about your schedule and dedication. They will respect your learning time, remind you when it’s time to study, and help keep you motivated. Feel free to even share your progress with them and tell them about what you’ve learned. Give yourself rewards when you’ve accomplished a goal.
7. Make it a Part of Your Daily Life
Although it’s important to set aside study time, it’s also important to be exposed to the language you are learning as much as possible. Incorporate the language you are learning in your life whenever and wherever possible.
The more the language you are learning becomes a part of your daily life, the easier it will be for you to learn, practice, and become fluent in that language.
8. You’re Not Alone
Know that you’re not alone, so don’t be a language-learning loner. Sure, maybe you’re the only person you know who is studying Russian, but you definitely aren’t the only person in the world.
Meeting and interacting with other people who are also learning the same language can help make your learning more fun, keep you motivated, and provide you with conversation partners who can teach you things you can’t teach yourself.
9. Use Your Resources
Fortunately for language learners, we no longer live in a world that requires Biblical translations and endless verb charts to learn a language. Whether it be at a language academy, at a community college or university, in your local public library, at a bookstore, online, or over the phone, there are thousands of resources available for learning nearly every language imaginable.
Take advantage of these resources every step of the way.
Remember: This is the 21st century, the world is at your fingertips, and you’re not alone.
10. Watch, Read, Listen
Do you like movies? Watch them in the language you’re learning, starting with subtitles in your native language (beginners), followed by watching with subtitles in your target language (intermediate), and finally without subtitles (advanced). If possible, find movies dubbed in your target language at a local library, rental store, or online.
Do you like to read? Go to your local library, book store, or shop online for books in the language you’re learning. For beginners, check out some fun children’s books. For intermediate learners, young adult novels are articles written with language learners in mind are great. For advanced learners, the sky is the limit with all of the novels, newspapers, magazines and more that you have access to in your community or online. You can also take things to the next level and listen to audio books!
Do you like music or listening to the radio? Find CDs, audio books, songs, radio stations, and podcasts in your target language and listen away. Music, audio books and podcasts are great for learners of all levels, while intermediate and advanced learners can add radio stations to the mix.
11. Practice Makes Perfect
Imagine you dedicate two hours a week to studying French online, and then you turn off your computer (and brain) and leave your french aside until next week.
Just because you have limited time to dedicate to language learning doesn’t mean that you don’t have time for language practicing.
Tell your family or friends about what you learned after your class or study time. Practice with a native friend or coworker over coffee or lunch. Try and read the french signs on the bus or in the store when you’re out and about. Talk to yourself in the language you’re learning. Repeat words, sounds, phrases and sentences in your mind. Look around you and recite the vocabulary words for the items that surround you. There are so many ways that you can make practice a part of your daily life.
Practice, practice, practice!
Language learning doesn’t need to be torture, and if it feels like torture, then you’re not doing what you should be doing. Use your resources. Travel and talk with native speakers and fellow language learners. Play games. Tell your friends and family about what you’re learning. Be proud of the fact that you’re improving yourself. You’re opening your eyes, ears, and mind to a new culture and world, and there’s something incredibly exciting about that. Even if all of the rules and memorization are tiring at times, remember that there are so many different ways to learn and be creative with your language learning.
Keep it fresh and fun. You’ll stay motivated and learning a language will be faster, easier and more enjoyable than ever before.