The beginner’s guide to learning French
As a beginner you certainly
wonder what the most effective
way to learn French is. There are
a lot of methods available, but only
a select few really give results.
Here is everything you need to
know in order to start learning
Learning French is hard
You know what
all successful French learners have in common? They worked hard! Learning French doesn’t have to
be difficult, but it takes time and determination. You can’t expect to be fluent quickly if you only study
French one hour per week.
Here is an estimate from ILA France of the time needed to reach each level of the Common European
Framework of Reference for Languages :
A1 (beginner) : 60 hours
A2 (elementary) : 160 hours
B1 (intermediate) : 310 hours
B2 (upper intermediate) : 490 hours
C1 (advanced) : 690 hours
C2 (mastery) : 890 hours
So you would need roughly one year and a half to
be fluent in French if you study two hours per day
and roughly five years if you study 30 minutes per
Keep in mind though that these numbers are
estimates. How you spend these hours can greatly
increase or reduce the number of hours needed to
Considering how ineffective most language
courses are, you could certainly learn much faster
if you follow an effective method. In the first stages
of language learning, the quality of the material is actually much more important than the quantity.
You can learn French considerably faster if you already know how to memorize vocabulary and choose
the right French-learning material.
The method you are going to read about here is based on Luca Lampariello’s Full Circle Method. Luca
is someone I have been following for a while and I really like his approach to language learning.
So I decided to adapt his method to fit the needs of French learners.
Three basic principles
It’s essential to study regularly and as often as possible. That way you don’t have the time to forget
what you just learnt and the whole learning process becomes much easier.
Learning French must become an habit for you, something you do automatically everyday. Or if not
everyday, at least regularly.
If you are on a tight schedule, try to spend at least 20 minutes per day studying French. A daily 20
minutes learning session works much better than a weekly two hours session when it comes to
If you learnt a foreign language at school, you probably experienced what I like to call the Parrot
Like a parrot you repeated individual words a thousand times in the hope that they would finally stick in
Then you proceeded to learn French conjugation by heart.
This is not only boring but also extremely ineffective.
Sure you can probably remember part of what you learned because repetition works at the end. But
how much time did it take you to retain so little information? Most of all, do you know how to use these
words and verbs you learnt?
When you begin learning French, focus on listening to dialogues of real spoken French first. If there is
some grammatical point you don’t understand, feel free to look for information and read about it, but
don’t obsess over it.
You will be able to learn and understand grammar naturally as you get more familiar with the language.
Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too. Dr. Willis
When we find something boring, we tend to lose
focus and think about other things. We keep doing
the task we were doing, but we don’t really think
about it. So our brain considers it unimportant and
we quickly forget what we just learnt.
This is why having fun is absolutely essential when
it comes to learning a language (or anything
You can’t always have fun when you learn French,
but you can make the learning process much more
enjoyable and motivating by incorporating game
and fun in your learning routine.
For example you could :
Watch funny French commercials
Learn French using memes on Memrise
Find videos of French songs you like and try to sing along
Watch movies in French (with English subtitles if needed)
What is the best French course?
It depends on your level, it depends on your motivation. It depends on who you are.
Truth is there is no perfect French course.
However, there is a course you will enjoy learning with, a course which will allow you to make progress
and learn French.
What course? The answer depends on you.
You want to learn on your own
If you enjoy learning on your own and want to learn as fast as
possible, Assimil is for you.
This method contains dialogues in real spoken French and
To learn with Assimil, you could use Luca Lampariello’s Full
Circle Method and do the following :
Listen to the dialogues
Repeat the dialogues
Read the dialogues while listening
Read without listening
Translate the French dialogue into your native language
Translate your translation back into French
After one month doing this for one hour everyday, you will be ready to speak French for the first time.
You would rather be guided through the learning process
If you like to feel you are not alone when you learn,
a method like Assimil is NOT for you.
Babbel or Rocket French however, would be great
Both websites teach you French using dialogues
and give you the opportunity to ask questions if
you don’t understand something.
The choice between the two is a matter of personal
If you like to learn on the go, mobile apps are also
Whatever course you choose, remember that the
most important is to stick to it. The best method of the world will be of no use if you don’t work hard.
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