Selecting The Right Tools To Learn French

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So you already asked "I want to learn French, where do I start?" and answered fundamental questions on why you want to learn, and what your goal is - learning to pass test, learning to read French or learning to actually communicate in French.

Now, you are ready to pick a learning method. There are so many French learning method available out there that it can be overwhelming. Here are my tips on selecting a French learning method which best suits YOUR needs and goals.

Selecting the right method to learn French

It's really worth spending some time researching and sorting through the ton of French material out there to find what is good for you.

  • Look at the customer reviews, and also what experts recommend.
  • Be smart and make sure you don't fall for paid advertising (like Google ads) or affiliate links (links to product which give the referring site a percentage of the sale… Many very popular audio methods such as Rosetta Stone use this marketing technique… It doesn't mean they are necessarily bad, but it means you cannot trust the rating they are getting because the person wrote the review to get the affiliate fee…).
    Doing your own research here is essential because at the end, you can only trust yourself! 
  • Make sure you know what you are buying: a decent site should have samples, and plenty of VERIFIED customers reviews.
  • Many methods offer a "100% money back guarantee" or "free trial" - that's always a good thing.
  • "Ask and you shall receive" - if the method you are interested in doesn't offer samples or free trial, contact them and ask them for some. If there is no customer support, in our days and age, it's a very bad sign...

Look for the right method for your own needs

I don't believe there is only one good method.

But there is one best suited for each student. If you speak Spanish for example, the structure of French, the logic of the tenses is going to be quite easy for you.

You need a method that will give you the facts, lists, but you won't need much grammatical explanations. 

On the contrary, if you only speak English, chances are that you will say at one point "French grammar is so difficult" (and I am being extremely polite here…).

So you need a method that truly explains grammar (both French and English, a method that doesn't assume you know what a direct object is, for example…) and then gives you plenty of practice.

Learning with level appropriate tools

Many people will tell you to "read the newspapers", "watch French movies", "speak with your French friends". I personally disagree. 

There are always exceptions of course, but in my experience (20 years teaching French to adults) for the majority of people, that is not how you should START to learn French. It's what you do when you are a confident French speaker, but not how you start. 

Studying with something too difficult, speaking with people who cannot adapt their language to your present level may destroy your emerging self confidence in French.

You have to nurture this confidence, so that you can one day get over your - only natural - fear of actually speaking French with someone else. You must always feel you are progressing, not running into a wall. 

Nurturing methods do exists, but finding them will require a little research and sorting from your part. For beginners/intermediate students of French, I personally recommend my own method - À Moi Paris downloadable audiobooks. Otherwise, I really like what they did at Fluentz. In my opinion, whatever your level may be, learning French with audio is an absolute must.

In the next couple of weeks we'll actually take a look at the French learning options out there. First, the free French learning tools, then studying with a teacher, and then resources to self study French.

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