That’s it, you’ve decided to learn or resume studying French! You are very motivated and you can already imagine yourself ordering a croissant 🥐 on the terrace of a Parisian café …
I’m not going to tell you that this is a bad idea (croissants are super good ) but be careful, when you start, you can quickly fall into certain traps and lose your motivation very quickly…
To be sure of effectively achieving your goal of learning French and not giving up at the first difficulty, I advise you to adopt these 6 attitudes:
What doesn’t work: Buying all the books that exist on the market, download a lot of applications on your phone, subscribe to all the Instagram and YouTube accounts of French teachers. By multiplying the sources of information, you risk getting lost.
What works: Having a single referral for each category, especially for books and apps, and following 2-3 Instagram and YouTube accounts, no more.
How? I recommend that you try out different apps and accounts on social networks for a few days, look at reviews of books, or ask friends for advice and quickly sort it out. Long live minimalism
What doesn’t work: Waiting for the “right” moment. « I don’t have time », « I have other priorities right now », « in three months I will be quieter ». It’s not true! Behind these pretexts, very often hides the fear of starting an unknown discipline, and therefore, of leaving your comfort zone.
What works: Creating urgency and integrating the learning of French into your daily life.
How? Whether you are learning with a teacher or alone, choose a schedule (early in the morning, during a break …) that doesn’t risk being occupied by another more “urgent” activity such as a work to be completed, a meeting that lasts longer… French should no longer be an option, it should be part of your daily life.
What doesn’t work: Scheduling two hours on weekends to learn all the conjugations in the present tense, 3 vocabulary cards and do the associated exercises. Not very motivating, right?
What works: Being in contact with French every day, even five to ten minutes, rather than seeing (and reviewing because you forgot) an entire lesson every two weeks. It is thanks to practice and consistency that you will be able to progress in French.
How? Don’t hesitate to divide a lesson over several days to make it more digestible and easier to integrate into your week. There are also apps like Duolingo that motivate you with rewards and a fun aspect to exercise every day for a few minutes. The more time and commitment you have, the more you will increase the time you dedicate to French in your daily life.
What doesn’t work: Downloading vocabulary cards or write the grammar rules in a notebook without ever reading them, watch a Youtube video that seems interesting to you and forget it right after.
What works: Use a new grammar rule, conjugation or vocabulary right away, and better yet, several times. This is the only way to memorize for the long term.
How? You have to create a context. If you live in France / know French people, or if you are part of a group of learners, use what you have just learned in writing or speaking as much as possible. Otherwise, imagine a story and write sentences using this new word or verbal tense.
What doesn’t work: Wanting to speak fluent French in a month. To take a sporty image: if you haven’t worn a pair of sneakers since Middle School, you can’t imagine running a marathon in two weeks…
What works: Accepting to be a novice in this field and congratulate yourself every day on your progress, even small ones. We were all a beginner before becoming an expert in a field.
How? Whenever you feel like you suck, or don’t progress quickly, make a list of all the things you’ve learned from the start. We do not all have the same skills and experience with languages. Everyone moves at their own pace.
What doesn’t work: Wanting to learn French because “it’s cool”. No, sorry, that’s not enough!
What works: Having a precise motivation, even “futile”, to use French.
How? In a classic way, you can set yourself the goal of taking a French exam (DELF, DALF, TCF …) and thus know your official level. You may also need to speak French to travel to France, or better communicate with your French colleagues or collaborators. But it can be related to your interests: you want to be able to reproduce your favorite cooking recipes, watch Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain or Les Intouchables in the original language, read Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, sing and understand the songs of Edith Piaf or Angèle.
Having the right tools is great for progressing with quality and efficiency. But you still have to know how to use them well and understand their usefulness. The ideal, of course, would be to take French lessons with a teacher to create a mandatory weekly meeting, have a method to follow and receive professional advice. But whether you learn with someone or alone, I advise you to first adopt these 6 attitudes to be sure to make progress in French and not to give up. Remember one thing: You can’t buy knowledge and skills, you acquire them over time and practice.
✅ enrich your vocabulary
✅ receive effective advice
✅ learn about French culture