My French Progress and Beginner's Tips for French (And to some extent, other language learners)
Okay, I would be lying to say I am an expert with language learning. (I live in America, one of the most monolingual nation's in the world)
That being said, I do have some tips that will help you. After a while, French WILL come to you. Don't stop thinking you never will understand it, you WILL.
Tip One: Keep a consistent Schedule. Even a lesson a day can help. Don't overload yourself. Your brain is not a supercomputer (Okay, it kinda is, but that is beside the point). Even your brain will need a break after a while. A good time to take a break or call it a day is when you keep making the same mistakes that you SHOULD know.
Tip Two: Memorize the genders. Gender memorization are important if you want to LEARN french. French is a beautiful language, it is also a romance language. You have to understand the genders if you want a chance to speak it.
Tip Three: Repetition-SPEAK OUTLOUD!
This may seem like a 'duh' one to some, but I will be the first to admit that I did not do this. When I saw a sentence, I just translated. This is not the best thing to do, because it does not really immerse you in the language. Speak the sentence out loud, that way, the sentence will be engraved in your long term memory.
Tip Four: Keep a French Journal! Okay, this helps! Even if all you can say is Je suis Albert or whatever, it is better then nothing! For me, this helps me get the vocab down. I, unfortunately, did not do this immediately and I am not going to lie, I regret it. Just write as much as you can, get real creative :). It helps you soak up the language and be able to think and speak in the language. Try to refrain from using a French-English Dictionary if you don't know a specific word unless you have to. If you want to keep the duolingo word bank open just in case, be my guest, just don't become to reliant on it. Other Resources
Duolingo is free and it can get you a good start in the language you are learning, but I would not recommend using just it. My suggestion? When learning French, and by extension, all languages, you must speak it.
"But ALBERT!" You cry, "I don't know anyone who speaks (Insert language here)".
I have some suggestions for you. http://lang-8.com/ (This lets you connect with native speakers... It does not have the best User Interface, but is free) http://www.italki.com/partners#learn=english=korean=1=1 (This is also free, I have it saved as Korean, but there are French speakers on here as well, some even have a skype!)
http://cafetalk.com/ (You can find some french tutors on here, some of which are AMAZING. This is not a free resource, but inexpensive and some will be willing to help you for free if you ask.)
http://www.babbel.com/dashboard (Kinda another way to supplement with Duolingo inexpensively, it has a way to find new friends who speak your language)
Honestly, if there was one thing I could say to the old me, I would say that you can do MORE. The first two sites are free, they can help immerse you in the language.
Yes Duolingo is an amazing resource, in fact, you can maybe just do fine on your own with keeping a journal. But you have to work at it if you want fluency. I said I can read, but I can't really write in french too well and I am not the best with speaking it. Which leads to my final tip.
DON'T GIVE UP! You will make progress if you take the initiative. If you can take something from this, I want you to know that I still struggle. Learning a language is not easy, but it is doable. If you learn best by writing and thinking it out, keep a journal. If you learn best by speaking, sign up on Italki and find someone who speaks French. I am just here to let you know that there are resources that are free that can make you fluent.
Good luck! I hope this may help some of you new language learners out there.
Great advice Albert. I might even start a journal myself.
Some other resources that I would recommend:
Duolingo French on Memrise - for people wanting extra practice on the vocabulary in the course: http://www.memrise.com/course/322152/complete-duolingo-french-vocabulary/
Coffee Break French - 20-30 minute lessons, starting right from how to say 'Bonjour'. Great for extra listening practice and getting you to speak out loud. I've just started, here's the link to the first lessons: https://radiolingua.com/tag/cbf-season-1/page/3/. There are more advanced classes too. A lot of the additional content is charged, but you can listen to the lessons for free. :)
Www.mylanguageexchange.com is also a great place to meet language exchange friends. It looks a bit old fashioned, but the search function works well enough. You can join for free and send free 'hi's'., so full members can contact you back if they are interested. From memory paid membership, so you are able to message other people, is about $10 for three months, which is plenty of time to make some friends and exchange contact details. I've made some great friends through the site. :)
These are great resources as well! Thank you for the extra resources, I may use them myself :).
Not to much to add there concerning tips. I will say, especially with French, that the duo pronunciation is a bit off. I say this wherever I can because this is important. For example, the computer voice will not pronounce "les chiens" and "les chiennes" any differently. But a native speaker does. There are many small instances of these types of spoken errors in duo that frustrated the hell out of me until I started watching and or listening to native speakers. Keep that in mind.
I do agree, I have something for that. I honestly should have considered that! Thank you :)
Tbh, because it is computerized, duo does have its disadvantages in both sound and auditory pronunciation.
Thank you for the extra tip! :)
Thanks for posting this. It's very positive and encouraging--something every language learner needs to hear every now and then. I agree heartily with your advice to spend some time actually speaking French. I majored in French and even in the advanced courses, very little spoken French was used. Thus, I ended up knowing how to read and write it fairly well, but to speak it very poorly and to comprehend very little of what's being said to me. To your advice to speak French I'd also add: listen, listen again, and listen some more. In a pinch, I could probably baby-talk my way through a simple conversation, but the big problem would be to understand the French guy's responses. I can learn how to say Où sont les toilettes?, but if I don't understand the answer, I may never find that bathroom :). Bon travail, et bonne chance dans vos études.
I tried the Lang-8 site and found it very helpful. It's better than the language exchange sites that just offer pen-pals, because the feedback is much quicker. You just post something in French and usually several people will correct it. Of course you have to wonder if the corrections are correct :). They seemed to be. They all made sense.
I have confidence in most peoples translations too.
But to be safe, I had 2-3 speakers who spoke french correct me.
To be honest, I stopped using for the UI, but I added it because it does have its perks.
Thank you for the comment :).
I agree and this may be Duo's only major problem. The parts where you do speak it are kinda...tacked on, in my opinion.
Sentence construction is still hard for me, written and audio, but I can read it well. I am starting to write a journal and I may find a tutor soon who is bilingual to speak to me :).
One thing I have to say to everyone, you may know vocab, but that does not make you fluent :).
Merci beaucoup! :)
Great article. Some things people take for granted like a notebook or speaking aloud. Another great idea is to use Flash cards. It helped me with the gender of nouns and the conjugation of verbs. Keep up the good work!
I considered putting flashcards, but I figured someone might say. "But duo has flashcards!" Which is kinda a double edged sword since I tend to attribute one french word to one english word. Like Du (I tend to take it literally per se and translate it as some)
Thank you for the tip :)
Everyone, flashcards do help with conjugation and gender identity, I highly recommend it if all else fails!!
My tip: If you can read fast enough you should start to watch French movies (or TV Shows) with french subtitles. You are going to improve your listening and feel more confident to speak French.
Extra tip: Les Revenants is an amazing show.
add bits of french (or other languages) to a normal conversation and, voila, you sound sophisticated