Learn How to Speak French

Tips to help you learn how to speak French (or any other language)

Students having a discussion
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Updated by Camille Chevalier Karfis

There is no magic formula for learning how to speak French - it requires time, energy, and patience.

There are, however, some techniques which will make your language study more efficient and thus help you to learn French more quickly.

The two main aspects to language study are learning and practicing, and they go hand in hand.

Memorizing vocabulary words won't do you any good if you are unable to use them, so you have to supplement your studies with practice.

The following tips on learning French include plenty of practice ideas - if you really want to learn how to speak French, do as many of the following as possible.

Learn With French Classes

One of the most efficient ways to learn how to speak French is to take a class.

If you don't want to attend a language school, there are almost certainly some reasonably-priced French classes available at your local community college or adult education center.

Check out who the teacher is: is s/he French? From which region? How long has s/he been a teacher? A class is only as good as the teacher is.

Learn French in Immersion

If at all possible, spend some time in a French-speaking country - that is the absolute best way to learn French. However there again, choosing your French learning program is the key. For adults, I strongly recommend learning French in immersion at a French teacher's homestay: you'll get the individual attention and unique guidance of a French teacher and experience French culture in immersion.

 

However, there are many French learning schools offering various programs. Do take the time to research the school, the teachers, the location and accommodation arrangements before you make your choice. 

Learn With Online French Lessons

Work on the basic vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and verb lessons in my French for Beginners section.

I suggest you first read "I want to learn French, where do I start".

Watch out though that self-studying is not very everybody. Most people need to guidance of a teacher to successfully conquer French, or at least, a well organized French learning tool. Check out my article on Best Resources To Self-Study French.

Listen to French

Listen to spoken French every day. The more you listen, the easier it will be for you to acquire that lovely French accent.

Invest in a good French Audio Method: spoken French and written French are like two different languages. It is essential you train with level appropriate audio to conquer French pronunciation.

Listen to French music - you may not understand all the words, but singing French songs out-loud is a great way to get the French language rythme and a fun way to learn new vocabulary.

Watch out for French movies though. They are a great tool for advanced students, but can really break the spirits of a beginner. French movies and French radio are made for French people, not students and are often overwhelming for a beginner student. 

Read French

French newspapers and magazines make good tools for advanced students. For each article, make a list of the words you don't know, look them all up after you finish the article, and then read it again while referring to the list.


Ditto for French literature - check out these bilingual books

Use a dictionary to make flashcards and themed word lists.

  • Use the flashcards to label everything in your house - doors, walls, bookshelves, rooms, etc.
     
  • Keep word lists in a binder - flip through the pages every day to test yourself. When you're sure that you know every word on a list, remove it from the binder to make room for new lists.

Speak French

To speak French, not only do you need to know French, but you also need to get over your speaking anxiety. And the only way to do this is to practice with other people.

French learning software and French audiobooks can prepare you to understand French people, and you can learn a lot with answering questions out-loud and repeating common sentences.

However, nothing will ever replace real life interaction.

To learn to speak French, you need to... speak! I encourage you to check out your local French classes (There may be an Alliance Française next to you, or check your community college offerings, or community ads such as Craigslist), or try a French Class by Skype

As I said above, I strongly believe the best way to quickly improve your French speaking is to go to an immersion in France.

Do you feel nervous when you try to speak? Here are some tips on overcoming speaking anxiety.

Have Fun with French

Enjoy yourself - learning doesn't have to be a chore. Take a look at the inspiration and fun links.

Make a language scrapbook to keep all of your notes and related information in one place.

Learn French With Social Medias

Camille posts exclusive mini lessons, tips, pictures and more daily on her Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages - so join her there to learn some French.