With all of the different ways to learn French out there it’s incredibly difficult to pin down which way is the best. This is definitely a subject where if you ask 1,000 different people you’ll end up with 1,000 different answers. However, after trying countless methods (most useless) I think I’ve identified the best way to learn French that can work for most people and also assumes a few things about you as a French learner. Let’s go through them first…
- It assumes that you aren’t able to be in an immersive environment (such as living in a French-speaking country). There’s nothing more frustrating than when I see people who say that in order to learn a language you must be immersed in an environment where that language is spoken. Although this isn’t at all a bad idea and likely will result in increased fluency it just isn’t feasible for most people. It can be pretty discouraging to learn French if you think that you absolutely have to go live in a French-speaking country.
- You are a serious French learner. This isn’t something that for the casual learner. A lot of people look for methods that only require 15 minutes a day or that you can only use 3-4 times a week. If you don’t have time to dedicate to learning French every day, then you probably won’t be successful in using this method.
- You already know at least a little French. If you are a complete beginner then this won’t work at all. You don’t have to be an expert (although if you are this will still work), but if you’re a total beginner then you’ll have to likely use some traditional methods first.
So what’s the secret to French fluency? Repetition. Let me explain
We all know that in order to learn anything a certain amount of repetition is needed. This is no secret. The problem with language learning is that it can be incredibly difficult to get the right kind of repetition. This is because normal sentences and paragraphs are filled with all sorts of different vocabulary and grammar points. It’s hard to just practice one thing at a time when you’re bombarded with so many variables. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you find as many examples of what you’re trying to learn so that you can really hammer it into your long-term memory.
How can one go about doing this? The short answer is sentence mining.
Sentence mining is the process of going out and finding complete sentences, copying them, and studying them. By doing this you are able to capture vocabulary and expressions in their full context and don’t have to rely on hard-to-understand explanations that don’t really capture the essence of what you’re trying to learn. When you’re trying to learn a specific element of the French language the best thing you can do is to gather a huge amount of reading material (can be a book, graphic novel, newspaper, magazine, etc…) and start to look for whatever element you’re trying to learn. Compile all your sentences into a massive list and study it like crazy. By doing this you create a resource for you to go back to should you ever need help. It really is as easy as that. Create resources of all the French difficulties you have and you’ll never have to rely on anyone else to provide them for you.
What is your favorite way to learn French? What methods and techniques do you know of that have helped you take your French skills to the next level. Comment below and tell us about them and how they work.