Learning French or any other new language can rapidly become challenging if you do not know how to start. In the long run, it is essential to adopt effective studying techniques to learn more with minimum effort. I would like to share with you some powerful learning strategies that I use with my students and that will finally help you learn French more effectively.
1. Motivation and Dedication
The first thing that you need to begin your French learning journey is MO-TI-VA-TION. I guess you finally found the motivation to start learning french if you are reading this. Or maybe, you realized that learning French is harder than what you’ve been expecting and your motivation is slowly decreasing? But there is nothing wrong with this. It is even quite common that people experience at first a high level of motivation and then slowly start losing interest. Why? Your short-term motivation is the only one being stimulated and this lasts for a short period of time. However, if you really want to keep on learning and speaking french fluently, you will need to add some dedication and to stop putting off your french lessons until later. By trying to dedicate some time slots to French lessons and visualizing your learning objectives and steps to reach them, you will reinforce your motivation and consequently level up. But keep in mind, you need to like what you learn to make it more effective. So, feel free to challenge yourself by listening to French songs you like, reading press articles you are interested in, watching French movies you love and so on. Learning a new language is rather a gift than a chore. Find the best way to love what you learn then.
As a French teacher, I often can observe that some of my learners mainly rely on me and their French classes to practice French language. It is indeed a good start but I acknowledge it is not enough. One of the greatest Return On Investment in language learning is forcing yourself to speak with others. “I don’t know conversational partner I can speak French with”, “I am shy”, “I am a perfectionist person and I don’t like to make mistakes”, “I am not able to pronounce French sounds properly”, “my beginner level does not allow me to converse with somebody in French”: I admit there are many good reasons to avoid speaking French. If you cannot find the perfect mate, tutor, teacher, native speaker to speak French with, no worries. The answer is pretty easy, Talk to Yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I am not telling you to walk out in public and start speaking out loud in French. You can do this at home out loud or wherever you want in your head. By doing so, you will allow yourself to get more fluent and comfortable with French. Talking French ALOUD to someone or even yourself is one of the best ways to improve your French pronunciation, fluency and confidence. More you speak the better you speak: this is a virtuous cycle! It is well known that “practice makes perfect”, so what are you waiting for?
At some point, you would eventually like to expand your French vocabulary and remember these words. And that is when “repetition” will be required. Start by learning from 100 to 200 most common French words and make your own sentences with them over and over again. Everytime you learn a new French word, reuse it immediately within a full sentence (even a short sentence). For instance, you have just learned the French word “papillon” which means butterfly in English. Make a sentence with “papillon” in it then. As an example: “Le papillon est bleu”. You can also visualize the blue butterfly in your head which is even better for memorization. Elaborate and rehearse make you activate and optimize long-term memorization which is required when you learn a new language. If you are eager to step up your skills, I also suggest you make use of “Spaced Repetition” by using a simple notebook or Flashcards (The applications Quizlet or Anki are dedicated to that). For instance: On the 1st of July you learn the French word “papillon” and you reuse it immediately in a sentence. One week later (about 7th of July), find it into your notebook or flashcards and repeat it aloud once at least. A few months later, you will do the same repetition process again. One year later, you will be able to find it back in your memory because it has been fixed into a part of your brain. They can significantly improve your brain’s ability to recall and fix what you learn.