The French language has an elegance to it, particularly in its sound. However, many beginners find it difficult to master due to issues such as grammar and spelling complexity. We have divided how to learn French into ten simple steps that you can follow even if you have a hectic schedule. Continue reading to begin your French language journey. Allez!

The First Day Of French Class Will Push You Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

What should you do with the remainder of your day one time? Keep using Omniglot to collect French questions and phrases that you would use the first time you spoke with a native speaker.

These will be the same phrases you would use when meeting a native speaker for the first time:

  • “What do you do?”
  • “Where are you from?”
  • “I’m from [country or city of origin].”
  • “I’m a [job title].”
  • “In my free time, I like to….”
  • “What do you do in your personal free time?”

If your job title and hobbies are not listed on Omniglot, you can translate them using Google Translate.

The phrases you gather now do not need to be grammatically correct. The goal is to be able to say basic things about yourself in Tarzan speak. For example, I can learn how to say, “Je Benny. I am Irish.” Sure, it’s not perfect. But you get the idea. Your first conversation partner will, too.

Make a list of the phrases and their translations, then say them aloud.

Make an effort to memorize them, but don’t spend too much time doing so. When you have your first conversation, keep your notebook nearby. Besides, you will be using these phrases almost every time you meet a new person, so you’ll memorize them in no time. Don’t go overboard. You don’t want to exhaust yourself. Simply memorize these few phrases and worry about elaboration later.

As you may have noticed, French pronunciation differs greatly from English pronunciation. It will take some practice to master. You might feel like a clown trying to say the above phrases while trying to pronounce the R correctly or determining which letters are silent. Don’t worry about it! It’s just the first day. Do your best, then repeat after the recordings. The rest will come later.

During The First Week, You Will Begin Conversing With A Native French Speaker

You should go to Preply very early in your first week (even on your first day!) and schedule your first conversation with a native French speaker. Schedule it seven days after you begin learning French.

Speaking is by far the most effective method of learning a language.

There is no greater rush than when you say something to a native speaker in your target language for the first time, and the other person understands you. You will feel empowered to continue using the language because you’ll know you can use it to connect with someone else.

Rather than looking for a conversation partner, I recommend scheduling your first conversation with a French teacher. Lessons are not cheap, but they are generally very reasonable. On Preply, tutors also provide free trial lessons.

Remember what I said about French being a global language? If you limit your search to France or Europe, it may cost you more than you can afford. However, if you look all over the world, you will undoubtedly find someone who meets your specific needs.

Why become a teacher? Teachers will have prior experience working with students of other languages. When you’re a beginner, it’s critical to have a supportive and patient teacher. Teachers also understand how to help you progress by pushing you hard enough to keep you learning but not so hard that you become overwhelmed.

You’ve set up your first meeting. You should spend the rest of your first week preparing for this conversation.

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Optimizing Your First Hour Of French Learning Will Set You Up For Success

Create a personalized French phrasebook as your first step in learning French.

Why are you doing this? My approach to learning French will focus on learning French that is relevant to you, your life, and your reasons for wanting to learn French.

Get a new notebook and a pen, and label it “My French Phrasebook” on the front.

Rather than the one-size-fits-all phrases found in most French courses and phrasebooks, this notebook will contain the French phrases you need to know.

Let’s get started on that first page!

Search the French phrases page for the phrases you use when meeting someone for the first time.

Here are some phrases I would look up:

  • “Hello”
  • “My name is….”
  • “What is your name?”
  • “Nice to meet you.”
  • “Goodbye”

Make a note of each word or phrase and its English translation. Click on each phrase in Omniglot to hear a French speaker pronounce it, then repeat what you hear.

Rep until you’re comfortable making French sounds in your mouth.

Steps To Learn French

Step 1: Start By Learning French Sounds

The French alphabet contains the same letters as the English alphabet, and more than 28% of English words have French origins. That surpasses any other language. As a result, it is one of the simplest languages to learn for English speakers. There is one exception: certain letters have accents.

They are also pronounced differently than English letters, as shown in the table below. When learning French, it’s critical to focus on the sounds rather than the letters.

In French, there are 23 consonants and 16 vowel sounds. If you speak English, you are already familiar with 20 consonants and six vowels. So you have three new consonants and ten new vowels to learn.

It is essential to become acquainted with the French alphabet and the sounds of each letter. You have some homework for the rest of the day if you haven’t already started studying French sounds.

Step 2: Start Speaking French (Now) 

You may feel silly the first time you try to speak French, but getting used to it and gradually building your confidence is an important first step.

To improve your speaking ability, we recommend the following steps:

Get A French Tutor

While passive and active listening is simple to incorporate into daily life, conversing with native speakers is much more difficult. Preply allows you to book 1-on-1 French lessons with native tutors. This will provide you with practice in listening, having a real-life French conversation, and speaking.

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Find A Language Exchange

Language exchange apps match you with native French speakers who will teach you their language in exchange for you teaching them yours. If you become friends with your language exchange partner, they may become an informal French teacher, which will benefit both of you.

This is an excellent option if you are on a tight budget because exchanges are free and French courses can be costly. Language exchanges, on the other hand, can be unstructured and difficult to progress with, so working with a “real” tutor is always preferable.

Seek French Culture

Look for French cultural centers and communities in your area and find ways to participate in their activities. Begin taking French classes in art, music, or any other hobby that interests you. If you’re learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby, why not do it in French?

Make the most of French cuisine and beverages. Consider whether there are any local bars or restaurants where you can practice your French. Take advantage if there is. You may encounter some difficulties at first, but persevere, and you will be communicating effectively in no time.

Step 3: Read In French 

It is nearly impossible to master a language without first becoming acquainted with literature. Even if you can not handle Proust or Hugo right now, that doesn’t mean you should stop reading in French.

If you ask a variety of experts for tips on learning French, they will all agree that beginners should start small with simple, easy-to-understand books. We suggest the following:

  •  René Goscinny: “Le Petit Nicolas”
  •  Saphia Azzeddine: “Mon père est femme de ménage”
  •  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “Le Petit Prince”

Another excellent tip is to seek out books with well-known plots (such as Harry Potter) and attempt to read them in French.

You can also read news in French and sign up for newsletters. We recommend this French-language newsletter, which delivers new, free content every day.

Step 4: Pay Special Attention To The Audio

Despite having a high level of reading understanding, you may be perplexed when someone speaks to you in French. This is due to the significant differences between written and spoken French, which can appear to be two different languages.

That is why it is critical to incorporate listening into your French learning routine. Reading is a fun and easy way to expand your French vocabulary, but it won’t help you understand the lady in the patisserie shop.

There are numerous ways to interact with spoken French online, including:

  • Bien Dire has audio recordings of native French speakers conversing.
  • Listen to podcasts in French. For beginners, we recommend Coffee Break French.
  • Listen to French music on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite YouTube channels by searching for playlists.
  • Take in audiobooks. Look for French translations of your favorite books on Audible or borrow them from your local library (if available).
  • Investigate YouTube. Consider the types of videos you typically watch (e.g., interior design, personal development, vlogs), and then look for French YouTubers who make videos on those topics. You’ll learn natural, modern French this way. Linguist Stephen Krashen proposes that in order to learn a new language, the content must be understandable enough that we can get the “gist” of it (even if certain concepts remain beyond our grasp). So, if you don’t understand after a few minutes, try something else.
  • Look for YouTubers who have dedicated their channels to teaching French. Our favorites are innerFrench (for intermediate to advanced students) and Piece of French (for beginner to intermediate learners).

Step 5: Watch Movies And TV On French

Movies are a fantastic resource for learning foreign languages. If you enjoy watching movies in your spare time, why not do so in French? This activity will help you better understand the language’s communication patterns as well as the culture. Another advantage of watching French films is that they train your brain to think in French.

We recommend watching movies with French subtitles at first but then turning them off to improve your listening and comprehension without relying on reading. Also, don’t be afraid to take notes and repeat some phrases. This comprehensive list of French-learning movies will come in handy.

While it may be tempting to start with original French TV shows and movies, it may be easier to begin with English-language movies you already know that have been dubbed in French (a common practice in France). This is to ensure that you can follow the plot while also understanding French.

Step 6. Consider Basic Pronunciation Rules

For beginners, French pronunciation can be difficult. To begin with, the language contains sounds that do not exist in English. It also has many complexities, such as one letter having multiple sounds and exceptions to standard rules.

If someone asks you, “Do you speak French?” you may understand; however, your pronunciation must be good in order to hold a real French conversation and be understood.

To get you started on your French language learning journey, here is a quick overview of general pronunciation rules:

  • All vowels in a word must be pronounced, whereas some vowels in English are “swallowed” (not pronounced). For instance, “do you know what I mean?” is pronounced, “due know what I mean?” The words “do” and “you” are combined into a single sound. This is not the case in French.
  • The stress in French adds to its allure. In contrast to English, where stress can be placed on any syllable, stress is always placed on the last pronounced syllable in French. We recommend watching this YouTube video on French syllable stress as you learn French.
  • If a word finishes with a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel or a silent “h,” the final consonant joins the next vowel.

So, if the sounds and pronunciations are so difficult to master, how can you learn French online on your own? Find a comprehensive guide to letter combinations and sounds and memorize the rules. Tongue twisters are another entertaining way to practice your pronunciation.

Of course, developing other skills, such as speaking and listening, will have a significant impact on your French pronunciation.

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Step 7: Activate Your Vocabulary By Learning French Words And Phrases

Understanding basic vocabulary, phrases, and numbers are one of the most important things to do when beginning to learn French. Beginners typically begin by practicing words that will come in handy when meeting French people, asking basic questions, and introducing themselves. Using flashcards will also help you remember previously learned French phrases.

Greetings And Useful Phrases:

  • Bonsoir ! (bohN-swahr!) — Good evening!
  • Bonjour ! (bohn-jhoor) — Hello!
  • Au revoir ! (ohr-vwahr!) — Goodbye!
  • Pardon/Excusez-moi. (pahr-dohN/eks-kew-zey-mwah.) — Excuse me.
  • S’il vous plaît.(seel vooh pleh.) — Please.
  • Merci. (mehr-see) — Thank you.
  • Je vous en prie. (zhuh vooh-zahN pree.) — You’re welcome!

Useful Questions To Learn Basic French:

  • Comment vous appelez-vous ? (koh-mahN vooh-zah-pley-vooh?) — What’s your name?
  • Est-ce que vous parlez anglais ? (ehs-kuh vooh pahr-ley ahN-gleh?) — Do you speak English?
  • Comment allez-vous ? (koh-mahN-tah-ley-vooh?) — How are you?
  • Où est-ce que je peux trouver… ? (ouh ehs-kuh zhuh puh trooh-vey….?) — Where do I find…?
  • Quelle heure est-il ? (kehl uhr eh-teel?) — What time is it?

Step 8: Make Lists Of Basic Pronouns, Nouns, And Verbs

Building your French vocabulary begins with the fundamentals. Learning them will allow you to converse about people, places, and things in your environment. Because it is impossible to form a sentence without a verb, common French verb conjugations are a good place to start.

Another method is to categorize various word types by topic and then create targeted lists. You will learn one topic and word type at a time in this manner, which is a tried and true method of learning new words. You could, for example, begin by learning pronouns:

  • je — I
  • tu — you (informal)
  • il — he
  • elle — she
  • on — we (informal)
  • nous — we
  • vous — you plural/formal form
  • ils — they (masc.)
  • elles — they (fem.)

Pay attention to the numbers in French as well. When visiting France, you will need them for shopping, currency exchange, and transportation. Learning basic French verbs, nouns, and numbers as soon as possible allows you to immerse yourself and begin conversing with people.

Step 9: Master Basic Grammar Rules

Learning essential words is an important first step on your journey to fluency. It is also necessary to structure sentences using proper grammar properly. 

There is no single, simple way to learn French grammar, but we recommend starting with the following rules:

  • Nouns’ gender. A noun can be masculine or feminine. Understanding how this works and what patterns to look for is beneficial.
  • Articles are used. The articles “la” and “le” are used for feminine and masculine nouns, respectively; “l'” is also used when the following noun begins with a vowel. For masculine and feminine nouns, the indefinite articles “un” and “une” are also used.
  • Conjugation of verbs. The verbs in French change depending on the subject of the sentence. There are standard “regular” rules and “irregular” rules. Learning the conjugation rules for regular verbs and a few of the most common irregular verbs is a great place to start.
  • Tenses of verbs. There are 12 active verb tenses in French. Begin by learning the present tense (“présent de l’indicatif”/”indicative present”), past participles (used to make the past tense), and irregular future tense forms.
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Step 10: Surround Yourself With All Things French

Engage as much as possible in French language learning. The goal is to get to the point where you can think, joke, and even dream in French.

While language immersion is typically associated with moving abroad, there are ways to immerse yourself in French, even if you haven’t yet purchased your plane ticket to Paris. As an example:

  • Set your phone, tablet, and computer to French as the default language.
  • Download French movies, series, audiobooks, and podcasts for on-the-go immersion. Even if you don’t understand everything, there’s still a lot to learn because passive listening is an important part of language immersion.
  • Look for new recipes in French when you’re trying new ones! You might end up with an overly spiced curry or a dry banana bread, but the advantages to your French language learning will be numerous!

How To Speak French Fast: Month 2 And Beyond

So you’ve been studying French for a month? Excellent work! Now is the time to reflect on how far you’ve come in just a few weeks.

Even if you were unable to study as much as you desired, your progress would astound you as long as you studied consistently and did not give up. It’s difficult to believe that you could once barely pronounce Bonjour.

If you discovered that any part of your study routine was not working for you over the last month, abandon it and try something else. It is far more important to study frequently and consistently than it is to study how you study.

Keep learning every day and speaking French as much as you can, and fluency will come sooner than you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Realistically Take To Learn French?

French is classified as a category one language by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). For most English speakers, learning French takes 23 – 24 weeks (575 – 600 hours). As a result, French is one of the easiest (and quickest) languages to learn.

What Are The Greetings In French?

The most important French greetings include bonjour (hello), enchanté(e) (nice to meet you), bonsoir (good evening/hello), salut (hi), coucou (hey), Ça fait longtemps, dis donc (long time no see), Âllo (hello), Ça va? (how are you?), tu vas bien? (have you been well?), quoi de neuf? (what’s up?), au revoir!

What Are 10 French Words?

Learn Some Common French Words

  1. Bonjour = Hello, Good morning.
  2. Au revoir = Goodbye.
  3. Oui = Yes.
  4. Non = No.
  5. Merci = Thank you.
  6. Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much.
  7. Fille = Girl.
  8. Garçon = Boy.
  9. Femme = Woman
  10. Homme = Man

Can I Learn French In 3 Months?

While you won’t be able to master it in three months, especially if you only have a few hours a week to devote to it, you can be more efficient by following an initial plan of action. Let’s look at what you should do in your first hour, day, week, and month of learning French.

Can I Learn French In 1 Month?

The reality is that learning French in 30 days will require you to cover a lot of ground. Don’t, however, become overwhelmed. Take it day by day, and re-adjust your learning strategy as needed.

What Should A French Beginner Learn First?

Understanding basic vocabulary, phrases, and numbers are one of the most important things to do when beginning to learn French. Beginners typically begin by practicing words that will come in handy when meeting French people, asking basic questions, and introducing themselves.

How Good Is Duolingo For French?

Due to features such as audio lessons, French is likely one of Duolingo’s best courses for speaking. However, it falls short of bringing you up to a solid conversational level. At least not by itself. The main issue is that (aside from the audio lessons), the speaking exercises are not conversation exercises.

What Does B1 Level French Mean?

Level B1, also known as the ‘Threshold’ or ‘Breakthrough’ stage, is the point at which a French speaker moves away from the most simplistic language usage and is able to cope with the majority of situations they are likely to encounter while traveling around a French-speaking country.

Can I Learn French After 30?

Basic grammar and vocabulary can be learned at any age. That explains my “sufficient” French. However, there is an enormous amount of low-frequency vocabulary and syntax that even native speakers may only encounter once a year.

A Brief Conclusion

Learning a language on your own is difficult, but following the steps we outline will get you off to a great start. We recommend that you find a professional tutor as soon as possible because they will assist you in studying more effectively and, more importantly, speaking French on a regular basis.

Speak French whenever possible, and also practice reading, listening, and writing. We also recommend doing weekly recaps of what you’ve learned to help it stick in your mind and keep you motivated by seeing your progress.

Preply allows you to search a database of qualified French tutors and select the one that best suits your needs. So, what are you holding out for? Preply can help you find the best French tutor for you, so start your journey to French fluency today. Voilà!