After 11 Years of Learning French (C1), Some Tips for Beginners And Advanced Learners!
@FrederikVC brought up an interesting point a while back and I'd like it to be a thing: I have not done the C1 exam but I took the B2.2 course at the Institute Catholique de Paris and it was so easy they tried to move me into the C1 section. I stayed in B2.2 and aced it so I am confident that I could pass the C1 course with little difficulty. After 11 years of near-consecutive study I'm...learning German (lol that's irrelevant but still true). What I actually wanted to say was that I'm 3 months away from receiving my French degree!
SO, a few French-specific language learning tips.
Beginners: Learn The prepositions associated with each new verb you learn. If you go into learning more personal pronouns knowing that its Donner à someone, you'll be a lot less confused when you see "Je le lui donne" and not wonder why its not "Je le le/il donne". Do not underestimate the importance of noun genders. This was one of my biggest mistakes and it came back to bite me so just learn them from the start. Learning German I can say the accent is a lot easier and you will get away with just using DL for accent prep, but not at all for French. Subbed youtube videos will help a lot with accent because pronunciation changes (things like liaisons and dropped word endings and such) when you have longer sentences that you won't see in DL. Eg: When DL tests you on "Il y a une table" you may not know that 'il y a' will sound like 'ya' in the middle of a sentence (used to mean 'ago' then) -> "Je l'ai vu il y a trois mois".
More Advanced: A couple text/practice-books. The first is just called Grammaire française by Olivier et Beaudoun (2ème édition). This is a fat reference/grammaire book with a huge wealth of very useful information on a huge range of topics. It it over the top with info but still has a good amount of practice. The next is Apprivoiser l'écrit. The big yellow thing, $7 on amazon too. This one is set up as a workbook/textbook combo with huge amounts of practice for little points like: Is it "je vais faire mes devoirs dans/en deux heures?" These are 2 of the text books I will keep for the rest of my life.
Hope this helps, comment if you have any other French-specific tips. Ciao et bonne chance!
I'll toss two books into the pot. One I got for Christmas from my wife, and the other I just bought myself.
The present: French for Reading by Karl C. Sandberg & Eddison C. Tatham. This book is 526 pages long, and is aimed specifically at graduate students who have to pass a language proficiency exam in French. It doesn't teach accents. It doesn't teach translating from English to French. It teaches how to read scholarly articles in French if you understand English. It has a narrow focus, but if you want to read French this is probably the place to start.
It is a programmed text, which means it's really oriented towards teaching yourself. As I go through the book, I'm also creating online flash cards of all the vocabulary taught. Perhaps (if I finish the book) I'll make those cards public. They won't replace the book, but they may be a good supplement.
(As part of my wife's Ph.D. in Mathematics requirements, she needed to translate a math paper from French to English. She was able to use a dictionary, but she still needed to understand French grammar and how verbs conjugate and that sort of thing. A dictionary alone wouldn't cut it. That's the audience that this book is aimed at. When she heard what this book was, she said she wished she had it when she was in school. You may still need a dictionary for 5% of the words, but that's a heck of a lot better than needing one to look up je.)
The purchase: Réussir le DELF A1 by Bruno Girardeau & Nelly Mous. This short and colorful book is a study guide for the DELF A1, which I'm hoping to take before the summer. (Deadlines tend to focus my attention.) This book includes a CD so I can practice the kind of listening necessary for the DELF exam. Again, any vocabulary that's new to me is also going into an online flash card system. (By the way, the entire book is in French.)
Both books are available from Amazon.
What does it mean "It teaches how to read scholarly articles in French if you understand English"? Can you give an example how the book helps one to do that?
Chapter one is on cognates. There are seven lessons (roughly) just looking at cognates. There are roughly one hundred fifty lessons, and it ends with more on être.
At the end of each chapter are readings from scholarly papers that you should be able to read my that point. (OK, the readings for chapter one translated most of it, but you had to fill in the missing words.)
Wow. Sounds like a great book to have. Unfortunately the used one is $60 on Amazon :-(
What sort of scholarly articles are focused on? Those I read for English are totally different to those I used to read for Psychology, and I expect History might also have its own vocabulary priorities.
Bon courage for the DELF!
Forgot to add one more invaluable book! Its called the Bescherelle! (Yes, you can find all of its information online easily) But its a lil red book that has every conjugation in every tense of every verb in the French language. Just in case you'd like to have a book. Also not very expensive.
Thank you! I just recently started learning French, so I will keep this in mind. :) Merci beaucoup !
Grammaire française by Olivier et Beaudoun (2ème édition) is $175 on Amazon :-(
:( Welp. Even used? In any case, the big Yellow thing is a great resource by itself with tonnes of practice
It looks like the 2ème Édition is pretty old. Here are links to other editions on Amazon.com:
Workbook for 5th: https://www.amazon.com/Workbook-Grammaire-Française-Jacqueline-Paperback/dp/B01182XAQO
Thanks for your input!
I'm using 'Modern French Grammar' by Margaret Lang & Isabelle Perez. Have been happy with it, but don't have a point of comparison. It also includes verb tables for the most common verbs, and this is probably the section I refer to most at this point.
I've been learning off and on for a number of years but am only around B1+. I've enjoyed using the following, all monolingual and should be available from online bookstores: "Nouvelle grammaire du français" (ISBN 978-2-01-155271-6) from Hachette publishers. Explains every grammatical point I've encountered to date in my Alliance française classes with lots of examples. "Grammaire progressive du français" from CLE International publishers (https://www.cle-international.com/recherche/collection/progressive-604). These books come in various levels, and there are also books on vocabulary, phonetics, and other themes. On each left-hand page is an explanation of a grammatical point, and on the right is a page of exercises. The topics and exercises build on each other as you go through the book. These are fantastic for self-study. * "Dictionnnaire du français" from Le Robert and CLE (ISBN 978-2-09-033999-4). This is a focussed monolingual dictionary for learners of French. The definitions are more detailed than in a normal dictionary, they highlight "faux-amis", and provide many idiomatic examples.
I stayed in B2.2 and aced it so I am confident that I could pass the C1 course with little difficulty
The big jump from B2 to C1 is vocabulary. Huge amounts of vocabulary - thousands of words. So, don't be so sure.
After 11 years of coming across vocab and all the reading I've done for the degree, that's one thing I'm more sure of, knowing vocab. haha, if anything, I'm better at vocab than grammar.
I find expressions are much tougher. I was reading a text aimed at B1 level and I couldn't understand every word individually but couldn't clearly understand what it says.
That's actually how I learn a lot of phrases that you wouldn't normally use, just how the language is constructed from the words you do know, not necessarily idioms. Right now I'm reading Le rouge et le noir (The red and the black by Stendhal) and I keep a few sticky-notes on the flyleaves to note down interesting constructions.
Sticky notes on the flyleaf? Brilliant. I'm going to steal this idea for my own books.