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What is the hardest part about learning French?

I'm currently learning French from both Canada and France, because I plan on travelling to both of these wonderful countries, but I really want to know what the hardest part about learning the French language is...any suggestions?

December 5, 2017



For me, it's the pronunciation.


Honestly, probably the grammar. Pronunciation is tricky at first but with a bit of time and practice my brain and throat figured out how to make the sounds correctly. But the grammar constantly throws curve balls - CONSTANTLY. Think you're starting to get the hang of it? Nope, almost every new lesson there's new grammar to learn which makes absolutely zero sense. I've been learning this language for years, with various different methods, and while I feel like the learning curve isn't as steep as it was the grammar still irritates the crap out of me sometimes.


The hardest part is listening and speaking. Duolingo is very good at teaching basic vocabulary, sentence structure, and even grammar if you read the notes and especially the sentence discussions (Sitesurf's comments in particular). However, the course does not prepare you for the real world. Unlike the course, you generally do not get speakers repeating things several times and/or at slow speed. You also cannot take a long time to work on proper grammar for sentences in a live conversation. Spoken french is also quite different from written french. Words get left out or slurred together. For example, il y a sometimes out almost like "ya" and the "ne" in the negative ne pas also sometimes gets omitted in speech.

All that being said, it will come. Besides Duolingo, try reading simple texts at first. Read the words out loud - it helps train your tongue). Use Google translate to translate words for you. Listen to audio tapes and use Youtube to listen to "Extra", 13 episodes (Arriveree Sam) and other programs. Try lyricstraining.com (You can listen to French songs and fill in words). It is a lot of fun while learning the words. (I love Zaz's music by the way and had never heard of her until I started using lyrics training.) Speak out loud when you can, preferably with someone else, but by yourself is ok if there is no other option.

Of importance, do not be like me. I wanted to be perfect in my grammar so was very inhibited in speaking unless I was sure I was right. This summer I spent a week in France with a teacher speaking only French each morning. One of the key things she taught me was that silence kills conversations. She encouraged me to just start speaking and to have catch phrases to help out - like Comment veut dire (what does that mean), quel est le mot pour (what is the word for), and j'ai un trou du memoire (I have a hole in my memory) etc. These give you some time to think without silence killing the conversation. They also enlist the other person to step in and keep the conversation going. Of importance, my teacher said the goal was to communicate and so long as you are doing that or trying to, the listener may not even pick up on your grammatical errors. So focus on doing that, not trying to be perfect.

Finally, if you want to practice verb conjugations use listeningpractice.org. Do not worry about the subjunctive now. Many native french speakers have trouble with it. Get the present, past and future tenses down pat first. Then move on to the more difficult tenses.)


Everyone will find one thing or the other more difficult than certain others might, but I particularly haven't had any trouble with grammar mechanics, pronunciation, etc. The one thing that I'm still learning (and probably will be for the rest of my life) is the various nuances between the handful of synonyms almost every word has. This might seem simple coming from a native English speaker since English already has much more than enough words in order to "se faire comprendre," but, honestly, however many words you thought there were too much of in English, you can double that number for French. Take, for example, the words "process" and "procedure." These are more or less the only two exact synonyms in English, but in French, several words mean one or both of these with a more specific meaning between "démarche," "processus," "procédure," and "procédé." At some point, you just have to tell yourself that "c'est abusé !" and move on with life. Additionally, many native French speakers will tell you that French is three languages in one, and, (un?)fortunately, this is correct. French has three different general languages that are applied depending on the scenario: français soutenu, français courant, et français familier/l'argôt. There is a word for almost everything in each of these separate languages (excluding français soutenu perhaps), which makes it even harder for learners of the language to reach a completely fluent level. The good news, though, is that the only French you'll really need to survive in France or any other French speaking environment is français courant ;)


Exactly, the langage courant is what is taught on Duolingo. Langage familier is used in informal situations, but you hear an awful lot of it in movies and on the streets. Langage soutenu is largely written, it is important if you plan to study in French school or University. This article explains the difference between all three with examples (en français): https://www.jerevise.fr/niveaux-registre-langue-langage.html


I think the questions are the hardest part of french for. Asking, saying, writing and reading them are so confusing


I agree with Qwl8143 above. The hardest part is the different registers of the language. I would not recommend learning, at least learning to speak, Canadian French. If you speak Metropolitan French you can be understood everywhere. I have heard that people have a tendency to be understood in Quebec using Metropolitan French, but you yourself may have a heard time understanding informal Canadian French with all its Quebecisms, if you will be in Montreal/Quebec it would be good to read up on it, but I wouldn't try and speak it. The hardest parts are argot, verlan, switching to formal and informal French. Common words like laisse-béton, boulot, bagnole, and fait chier are widely used in movies and informal spoken French. There are a few good books to get you started on argot and informal French, I would read them over and over as you will need them if you are talking to anyone under 30 and in many informal situations, especially if you plan on making friends with French people. There's an excellent article about the three registers (en français) here: https://nathaliefle.com/20-mots-du-quotidien-en-francais-familier/


yes but what I find to be hard is to not stop the !!!!


oh and I just gave you a lingot !!!


Uh... let’s see. Well don’t get your words mixed up like "le" and "la".Or "manger" with "mange" or "un" with "une". And other stuff like that!


probably masculine and feminine.


For me, it is the pronunciation. I had no problem when learning Spanish, but French is so mystifying to me so far!


The pronunciations make it really hard to decipher what people are saying. But the hardest part is definitely trying to figure out which parts of the standardised french taught in courses are actually used in real life french


I am learning for Canada as well because i want to move there, i absolutely love the language and enjoy learning it however i wish i had someone i could practice with lol

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