Top 5 Ways to Learn French
This first one always makes the “top 100… or 10 ways to learn a language” list, and that is to use some kind of tested & proven language learning software system, such as Rosetta Stone or the program by Pimsleur. These are undeniably great resources. The downside, according to most “would-be” language students, is the required investment of a $few hundred dollars$ to get started.
Is it worth the investment? If you stick to it and actually use the software longer than the first few months of receiving it, then the consensus is a resounding “YES”. These programs do work but, like everything else, they require actual effort & work on your part.
The next way to study & learn French is to take a class at your local University or Community College. There’s nothing like a structured, formal, environment & system to keep you studying and to track your progress.
Classroom learning is a good choice because you’ll have the opportunity to interact with other classmates and gain conversational skills. The downside to the classroom option is that, just as many people experienced in their high school required language class, passing a foreign language class can usually be accomplished by little more than memorizing key vocabulary words; unfortunately, very little is “learned” in terms of understanding the French language and certainly very little in being able to actually apply the lessons in a real world environment, without additional coursework.
**** Tip**** There are a lot of major Universities who have made many of their courses available for free in what is called “open university” or “open university courses”, etc. do a Google search and browse through the results. This isn’t limited to foreign language courses, there are courses on every subject imaginable and this can actually be an excellent resource to learn about almost anything! You can also find these courses on iTunes (which is free to download), simply do a search of the available Podcasts.
Another way to learn French is by watching video lessons. You can find and purchase quality video lessons to watch at home and practice the exercises discussed. Those are fine, but there is another resource available for you that is probably more preferable in “these hard times”: Search online (Yahoo, Google, Bing) for “free French Lessons” or some other similar phrase. In the results you should see numerous videos (from YouTube & other video websites) offering many of the same lessons you would find in the higher priced videos for FREE.
You can even bypass the search engines and just try searching through YouTube or another social video website where you’ll find plenty of lessons to choose from. If you find a particular instructor that you like, you can even subscribe to their channel and receive notifications when they upload new lessons.
Another reason people like to use social video websites is that you can actually interact (by email, private message, or even your own videos) with the instructors on the website.
**** Tip**** In addition to search engines and social video sites, try searching for “learn French” or “French Lessons” in the Podcasts section of iTunes. You can subscribe to the podcasts and get new lessons just as you can subscribe to the channels on YouTube.
Another resource for learning French is to interact with people who actually speak it. There are a number of ways to do this, for instance try searching Google for a social networking website that centers on language learning. One website I used for a while was Xlingo (languageexchange.org), although I’m not sure if that one is still operating, because the last time I tried to log in… it told me I didn’t have an account, lol.
However… the website is still up, so you can see what I’m talking about and then do your own searching around for one that catches your interest.
I like this option because, even though many of the people in the website are often not in the same country as you, you can still communicate and work together in your learning the French language (in exchange for your helping them to learn English) on different communication mediums, like Skype or instant messaging. Obviously this resource has a downside and that is, you always need to Be Careful in meeting new people on the internet, you never know who that person really is and unfortunately there are a lot of criminals, and the like, out there looking to take advantage of people. So if you choose this option, be careful… don’t give out personal information… you know the drill.
Another resource, related to this topic, is to volunteer or find out how to get involved in a local ESL program where you live. ESL stands for “English as a Second Language”. These programs usually offer classes for people who are native speakers of another language (i.e. such as French) who are trying to learn the English language. So if you were able to contact the person in charge of the program and figure out a way to get involved, that would allow you to meet new friends and to interact with people who can help you in learning French.
Also, consider people that you already know who speak French. They can be a great resource, especially in helping you to pronounce words and understanding how people really speak French.
The number one way to learn the French Language is to use a combination (at least one or two) of the first four resources on this list and to read books, newspapers, etc. (anything!)… the point is: Read in French.
Reading in French is the only way to truly build your vocabulary with retention, otherwise all you’re doing is “memorizing”… and memorizing French vocabulary words will not do you any good if you’re unable to use those vocabulary words to form sentences, participate in dialog, or understand concepts and ideas.
By reading in French you’ll develop the ability to think in French and that is the ultimate goal that you, as a French student (whether in a formal classroom or just self-study), should be working towards if you’re serious about learning the French Language.
So where do you find resources that enable you to read in French?
First and foremost you can start by searching your local bookstore or Amazon.com or other online bookstores. You want to search for words like “dual language book” or “dual language reader”. I recommend using Dual Language Readers because you get the bonus of having the English language on one page and then the exact translation in French on the page next to it. For example:
Learning a new language is far less difficult when you understand the ideas being conveyed. That is the true benefit of using a Dual Language Reader.
Later, as you advance, you can choose more difficult books to read (even those books that are completely in French). In addition, once you make it to that level, you can start reading French newspapers online, etc.
Obviously there are MANY other resources out there for you to learn French, but this list is enough to get you started right now, even if you can’t afford to invest hundreds of dollars in one of the major language software programs.
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