Ok… I lied. Learning a language is not effortless, it requires energy and dedication. When I see promotional titles like “Learn French in 10 days”, I am sickened. Im-pos-si-ble. I have been through learning a language from scratch; I know what it’s like. It’s challenging, but so very rewarding in the end.
While not completely effortless, here are a few tips that will make your life a lot easier.
Watch movies you know and love, dubbed in French.
Yes, you might cringe a little when you hear your favourite actors with different voices, speaking a foreign language that doesn’t quite follow their lips. However, it will help your ear get used to the speed of the French language and you’ll start to make an association with what the actors are saying because you already know the context of the situation. Fun and highly effective!
Watch children French shows…
…and by children, I mean pre-school shows. I know… it will seem very silly, but these shows have very simple, usually slowly spoken dialogue. Think about it for a second. 3-4 year olds already have an excellent vocabulary compared to a lot of foreign language learners. You would be surprised on how much you can learn in a 30-minute episode.
Read everything French
Make a habit of reading in French; read instructions, warnings, cookie recipes, blogs, fairy tales and even simple French novels. The reasons we have the impression that foreign speakers speak so fast is that we can’t make a mental separation of words in our head. “Iknowhowtospeakenglishbecauseilearneditwheniwasyoung” is certainly hard to read. Well, that’s what happens with a new language. Getting used to seeing French words will certainly help your understanding.
Invest in a good software program
If you’re serious about learning French, buying educational software can be a great investment. Software like the Ouino French learning system teaches a very solid foundation to the French language. While requiring some dedication and effort on your part, it should improve your knowledge in a big way.
Immerse yourself in French
Spend some time with French natives, travel to French-speaking areas, go to a French community center and DO NOT speak English. Use keywords, signs, point to things, but do not speak in your mother tongue. The problem with trying to learn a new language is that you can get by almost anywhere in English. Let the shame go and play the charade! It may be frustrating at the start, but very rewarding when you realize you are not using as much made-up sign language.