Are you stuck in the “beginner” stage of learning French?
Do you feel like you’ve been dabbling in the language for years without making significant progress to converse with confidence?
If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Many adult learners, like our fictional friend Mabel, find themselves self-labelling as beginners indefinitely.
But fear not; there are ways to break free from this cycle and move towards fluency.
Meet Mabel: The Forever Beginner
Mabel represents a combination of three individuals I’ve had the pleasure of helping on their French learning journey. They all shared common challenges and frustrations, which I’ll address in this blog post.
Before we embark on this language-learning journey, let me introduce you to Mabel. She’s like the friend we all have who’s been toying with French for years but can’t seem to break out of the beginner phase.
But don’t worry, these tips are here to rescue you, Mabel and anyone else stuck in the beginner’s trap.
- Organise Your ‘Bits and Pieces’ of French
Ever feel like you’ve got puzzle pieces of French floating around in your head? It’s time to put them together into together!
- Create a Vocabulary Notebook: Grab a notebook and start jotting down new words, phrases, and expressions. Organise them by themes or categories for easy recall. You can even colour-code the words for masculine of feminine gender and regular or irregular verbs.
- Practice Sentence Construction: Take those vocabulary gems and practice constructing sentences. Start simple, then gradually add complexities: make them plural, turn into negative form with ‘ne.. pas’, make questions…
- Overcome Wobbliness and Build Confidence
If your French foundations feel a bit shaky, try this to build confidence”
- Set Achievable Goals: Break your language learning goals into smaller, achievable milestones. It’s like climbing a staircase – each step gets you closer to the top (even if they’re tiny steps).
- Use Language Learning Apps: Explore apps like Duolingo, Busuu or Babbel. They offer structured lessons and exercises that’ll boost your confidence bit by bit.
- Create Structure
Imagine your French knowledge as a beautiful garden. Structure is the fence that keeps it organised and thriving.
- Follow a Curriculum: If you’re going solo, consider following a structured curriculum or textbook. It provides a clear roadmap and ensures you cover all aspects of the language.
- Join a Language Course: Enrol in a formal language course with French Speak so we can guide you through structured lessons and provide that nurturing feedback you need to progress faster.
- Master the Art of Asking Questions
Questions are the keys to unlocking conversations. If you’re not sure how to ask them or often get tongue-tied, let’s fix that.
- Learn Question Words: Get very familiar with question words like “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” Practice forming questions with them, and soon you’ll be able to interrogate anyone anywhere (just think about the ones you’ll need for your specific scenario).
- Use YouTube to learn more: Dive into my videos on YouTube so you can practice asking and answering questions I’ve linked to one here.
- Seek Clarification
When in doubt, ask. Google is your friend, and so are your fellow learners and teachers.
- Online Learning Groups : Find a language exchange buddy who’s fluent in French. You can ask them anything you’re unsure about, and in return, you can offer your native language expertise. I personally haven’t found this method very useful to learn but know some learners who love it.
- Perfect your Pronunciation
Pronunciation often takes a backseat, but it’s the icing on the French language cake. Let’s make sure you’re pronouncing it all well enough to be understood 100% of the time. Drop the idea of speaking perfectly.
- Use Language Learning Apps: Many language apps offer pronunciation exercises. Dedicate some time each day to practice speaking and repeating words and sentences. Your accent will thank you.
- Watch French Movies : Pay attention to how native speakers pronounce words. Mimic their pronunciation, grab the transcript where you can so you can contrast ‘the French you read’ vs. ‘The French you hear’ and soon you’ll sound better yourself.
- Listen to Music: Many music channels exist and here’s my own 90’s playlist.
Pronunciation is an essential part to converse so we created our own course to teach you to Pronounce and Understand French Better, check it out here.
- Improve Your Listening Skills
Listening is where the magic happens. It’s like the melody to the lyrics. Let’s fine-tune your listening skills.
- Listen Actively: Dive into French TV shows, movies, or podcasts. Start with English, then French subtitles as your skills grow, eventually go without.
- Repeat and Recap: Hit pause, rewind, and repeat. Summarise what you’ve heard to ensure it all sinks in.
Listening is also an essential part to converse so we created our own course to teach you to Pronounce and Understand French Better, check it out here.
- Stay Accountable
Life gets busy, and sometimes, French practice takes a backseat. Let’s make sure it’s always on your schedule.
- Set a Schedule: Establish a regular study schedule that fits your life. Consistency is your secret sauce, even 15 minutes every day will make a difference!
- Use Language Learning Apps with Notifications: Many apps -including the friendly gree owl – send reminders to keep you on track with your learning goals. Let them be your virtual French buddy, cheering you on.
- Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset
Mistakes are stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. It’s time to change your mindset.
- Don’t Fear Mistakes: Understand that mistakes are a natural part of the learning journey. Embrace them, learn from them, and keep moving forward.
- Practice Speaking: Don’t wait for perfection before you start speaking. The more you practice, the faster you’ll improve. It’s like riding a bike; you’ll wobble at first, but soon you’ll cruise.
- Set Clear Goals
Lastly, let’s talk goals. They’re like your North Star, guiding you through the French learning galaxy.
- SMART Goals: Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, aim to have a five-minute conversation on a specific topic in French within three months.
- Visualise Success: Close your eyes and picture yourself conversing with ease. What will you talk about? What will they ask? How will you react? It’s a great way to brainstorm both sides of a dialogue. Visualisation can also be a powerful motivator, like a sneak peek of your future French-speaking self.
Remember, you don’t need to relocate to a French-speaking country to become conversational, you can absolutely do that from home.
With dedication, structured learning, and the right mindset, you can make significant progress right where you are.
Whether you decide to join our “Beyond Beginner French” program or take this journey independently, these tips are your roadmap to saying au revoir to the ” Beginner island”
Get in touch if you’d like to discuss by clicking here.