Learning Spanish after French
I have studied Spanish for about 4 years now and just got back from a language immersion trip in Spain for 6 weeks where I was forbidden to speak a word of English the entire time. (I had a host family and all that other good stuff like classes every day) I just returned back to the U.S. and I've decided to take up French.
In Spanish, the conjugations are quite clear to who and what you are talking about (with the exception of subjunctive and a few tenses like imperfect past and conditional). Also because they are so different, you normally can drop the pronoun and just say "Tengo hambre" Instead of "Yo tengo hambre".
What I've learned from French is that the spellings of the conjugations are quite distinct but the pronunciations are quite similar if not the same between people.
My question is, do you need to clearly state every time the pronoun before your verb?
Thank you very much! P.S. if you have any tips for people like me who already can speak Spanish to help with French, that would be great :)
I'll be interested to see how you find French after Spanish. I am relatively new to French after studying Spanish for years. One thing that has surprised me is that in some ways French feels a lot more similar to English than Spanish. There are a lot of shared words and similar words which can make it very easy to see the connection between the two languages. In some cases the words are spelled the same in both English and French.
One of the things you may find a bit challenging is that there are some French verbs that are very similar to Spanish verbs but have different meanings. One example is the French verb entendre (to hear) which I invariably read and understand as the Spanish verb entender (to understand). I also find French verb conjugations to be somewhat more difficult because of the verb endings being largely silent; so it's more about memorization, especially for irregular verbs.
By far the hardest aspect for me so far is French pronunciation. After a few months and hours and hours of oral practice, I still struggle a lot. My pronunciation is choppy and heavily accented, and sometimes I get really discouraged. I'm confident that with continued attention and practice I'll get better.
If I have one tip for you in pronunciation, it is that French pronunciation does not necessarily line up with the words. It's pronounced more in linked syllables that blend words. For example, the sentence "J'habite aux Etas-Unis" is pronounced something like a smooth, flowing "zhah-bee-toh-zay-tah-zew-nee".
Best wishes in your studies.
Not only do you always have to use the pronoun before the verb, you have to use an article (definite, indefinite, or partitive) before the nouns.
I learned Spanish first, to a fairly decent level as you have, and when I decided to learn French I did the "French for Spanish speakers" course. It will slow you down some, but at least you won't lose your Spanish while you learn French. That was a big concern of mine.
Taking the French for Spanish speakers course is a great suggestion. Once you become somewhat comfortable with French, you might consider doing the Spanish for French speakers course, too or instead, as it will have you write about 80% of your replies in French, rather than in Spanish.
Pronunciation in French is challenging and takes some effort. I took 2 years of college-level a very long time ago, and have had classes, travel, and various French-speaking friends along the way.
One of my French teachers once told me, "You know, most English speaking people have trouble pronouncing the French U, you can do it but you use it when you shouldn't." Sigh! I'd worked on learning the U but apparently need to spend more time figuring out when to use it. I still need work on liasons and enchainement.
After refreshing my French with Duolingo (thanks Duo!) a couple years ago, I took a B2 French literature class at Alliance Française. All the other people in the class had been in the same class for 10 years! Every single one of them still sometimes had some problems with pronunciation when reading aloud.
So, if you're finding French pronunciation challenging, you are not alone. Because I learned some Spanish as a very small child, Spanish pronunciation seems much easier for me.
Here are a few things that have been helpful to me in learning pronunciation:
With the Duolingo speaking exercises, speak very slowly and clearly. It's not terribly natural but it sometimes wouldn't accept it otherwise. Or, you can turn off the speaking exercises and learn pronunciation another way.
Youtube videos are really great for learning the alphabet (I always start there) as well as for other pronunciation videos.
Reading and listening to the same text is helpful. As a beginner, you'll need something easy, but can eventually work up to podcasts with transcripts, audiobooks with books, movies in French with subtitles in French, and so on.