French is still one the most frequently spoken languages in the world. There are approximately 100 million people who speak it as their first language. It is part of the romance family of languages and has its roots in Latin. For centuries, French was the essential second language for most cultures. These days Spanish has taken over that role, but learning the French language basics, will still put you in good stead when traveling.
Learning French is a good way to train your mind as it encourages the brain to examine things in a different way. This kind of training will make your brain more flexible. The first place to go when beginning the process of learning French is the bookstore. Find yourself a good quality textbook that focuses on getting you started with the basics. Look for one that comes complete with an interactive DVD to practice with. Make sure you buy a well renowned English to French and French to English dictionary to help with your learning. Furthermore, keep your goal to speak French, in mind.
The first step is to learn greetings because if you can do nothing else, at least you can show you have made an effort. French has two forms, formal and informal. When talking with older people and in any official situation, use the formal form. For people your own age and people you are friends with, use the informal. Basic greetings and introductions are:
Au revoir! Goodbye!
Salut! Informal hello
Je m’appelle My name is
Enchanté! Nice to meet you!
Ça va? How are you?
Au revoir! Goodbye!
These are the very basics and will allow you to interact with people you meet.
Take a Language Course
Rather than trying to complete the whole process on your own, join a local language course. There are usually a myriad of beginner French language courses available. Use the internet to find one that is at a convenient location and time for your schedule. It will give you the opportunity to practice your greeting skills straight away. In addition, you should strive for something complete and easy.
The big advantage of using a professional course is not only the professional instruction, but also the chance to speak, listen, and read simultaneously. Learning in the classroom alone will not be enough for you to become proficient. You will need to study outside of the classroom, as well. See if you can find someone from your course to meet for coffee and practice with. Moreover, you can also practice with them through video chat.
The Gender of Nouns and Articles
One of the most striking differences you will notice right from the start is that every noun in French has a gender. It can either be masculine or feminine. In most cases, there are no rule as to which type of noun is which gender. You have to learn the gender when you learn the noun. You can understand the gender through the article in front of it. The French equivalent of the English article ‘a’ is either ‘un’ for the masculine form or ‘une’ for the feminine. The same applies to ‘the’ which can either be ‘le’ for masculine or ‘la’ for feminine. Below are some examples:
- Un poisson (m), A fish.
- Une banana, A banana.
- La nuit (m), The night.
- La lune (f), The moon.
For people, you use the actual gender of that person.
Learn the Gender and Articles
It is essential that you learn the article of every noun together with its article. Doing this right from the beginning will make learning the basics correctly much easier. One of the most efficient methods of learning vocabulary is through creating your own language aids. Buy a pack of index cards, and write one noun, together with its article, on each one. Put the English translation on the reverse.
You can then use them to test your knowledge. Look at the English noun then try to remember the article, and the corresponding French noun. Say the nouns out loud in French if possible, if not do it in your head. Work your way through the stack of cards several times a day. When you are confident you have learned a word and what gender it is, set the card aside, and create a new one. Once a week, go through all the discarded cards, and check that you can remember them, and their article.
Need extra help with memorizing? Try this “superhuman” techniques to improve your memory and reading.
Use Audio Aids
In order to keep your pronunciation as authentic as possible, get some audio tapes. For French, there is an enormous range to choose from. They will allow you to not only learn words more quickly, but also provide you with a learning tool while doing other things, such as traveling or working out. If you wanted to, you could also find a French radio station to listen to. This will provide you with a more passive learning, and will help you to differentiate between words.
Speak at Every Opportunity
In order to learn the basics of French, you need to practice at every opportunity. When going around the house by yourself, learn the name and gender of things in the house, and mentally say it to yourself when you see it. The same applies to food. If you see a type of food and do not know the name of it, write it down, and make a flash card at the first opportunity. There are also basic interactive courses available on the internet that you can practice with.
Learning the French basics is quite straightforward. In fact, with all of these tips, you might soon experience French Conversation Made Easy. You will find it is also very interesting and rewarding. As with anything, learning French takes time and effort. Within a relatively short time, if you follow theses learning methods, you will start to feel comfortable with French language basics. Next thing you know, you’re off to France and embarking on a new adventure!