Some mistakes can considerably slow down the learning process. Here are 6 common mistakes and ways to avoid them and learn more efficiently.


1. Don't focus too much on grammar

Sure grammar is important, without it your sentences will look weird and native speakers may not even understand you.

But, you shouldn't obsess with grammar.

Most mistakes won't prevent people from understanding you, and nobody will blame you for making a few grammatical mistakes.

In fact, as a native French speaker, I sometimes make mistakes too.

And that's okay.

This doesn't mean that you should completely forget about grammar.

Instead, you should simply learn grammar when there is something specific you don't understand in a sentence.

Learning grammar as you stumble upon grammatical constructions you don't understand make it much easier to learn and understand grammar.

In a language full of exceptions like French, learning rules by heart is not worth it.

If you do that, you will quickly get bored, remember nothing and end up cursing the crazy people who created French grammar.


2. Be selective when you learn vocabulary

Your school teacher is going to hate me for saying this but...

Many words are useless.

A lot of language courses and phrase books teach you sentences such as Mon aéroglisseur est plein d'anguilles (My hovercraft is full of eels).

Some other use sentences that sound extremely old-fashioned or way too formal for daily life.

These sentences won't bring you much, because you will most likely never use them.

If you are a complete beginner, it's worth checking out lists of the most common French words. These are words French people use everyday.


3. Learn sentences, not words

Learning individual words is not only difficult, it's also extremely ineffective.


Because, we memorize more easily when we create associations.

When you learn a word, the only thing you memorize is the word and its meaning.

So, even if you memorize it, you won't know how to use it once the time to speak has come.

Whereas if you learn sentences, you will immediately know how to use the words you learn.

You will also learn expressions at the same time and sound much more natural.


4. Don't be afraid to make mistakes

“What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning - and some of them many times over - what do you find? That you can swim? Well - life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for there is no other way of learning how to live!” - Alfred Adler

We all make mistakes, and that's a good thing.

Mistakes allow us to learn and improve.

Sometimes, they can also be hilarious.

It's important to recognize that mistakes are an essential part of the learning process.

The only way not to make mistakes would be not to try to speak French.

And, that would be a huge mistake.


5. Don't be afraid to speak French

Speaking French can be scary. Most of all if you’ve never done it before.

The good news is, it gets easier with practice.

Speaking French is extremely important, because it's the best way to get feedback.

As soon as you will start speaking French, you will immediately discover how to improve your pronunciation in French, you will also get used to speaking a new language and quickly speak it more fluently.

So, why not start now? Even if you don't know many words, you can probably say more than you think.

If you are not ready to speak, at least try to write as much as possible. You can then post a notebook entry on italki, get feedback and learn from your mistakes.


6. Don't forget to have fun

Having fun is the best way to stay motivated. Some studies also hint that it could actually make us more likely to memorize what we learn.

Not to mention that if you don't enjoy learning French, you are likely to quickly give up.

So try to always learn French in a fun way. For example you could :

  • Watch great movies and TV series
  • Read books you enjoy
  • Speak French with people you enjoy talking to


- Over to you -

Have you ever made one of these mistakes?  Do you have advice? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!