Use the right tools and speak like a native really soon!
I've been teaching French as a tutor on italki for one month now, and I’ve noticed that most of the people here want to find good material for learning French quickly and efficiently. As a language learner myself, I know that time and motivation are the most precious things we have to keep learning a language, so I picked the 4 most useful tools to learn French quickly. If you’ve just started learning French and you want to specifically focus on conversation, this article may interest you even more.
1. A Phrasebook
If you want to express yourself, you need to focus on sentences. A good phrasebook will give you useful sentences you can directly try on italki. I suggest you try Lonely Planet Phrasebook (I really love this one) and Assimil phrasebook. Even if they are designed for travelers, they include a lot of sentences you could use to talk via italki or in real life. First of all, check out the basic conversation (or anything like that) chapter; you'll find interesting phrases there to introduce yourself and start a conversation.
Salut! (informal) Hi!
Bonsoir! Good evening!
And, don't forget to ask: Ça va ? (informal) How are you?
Je m'appelle ... My name is...
Je viens de/ Je suis .... I'm from/ I am ….
J'ai ... (age) I'm ... years old.
J'apprends le français depuis... mois/ans. I've been learning French for... months/years
Once you know how to greet and introduce yourself, pay attention to the sentences you may use on italki:
Est ce que tu m'entends? Can you hear me?
Est ce que tu me vois? Can you see me?
On peut commencer? Can we start?
Est ce que tu peux répéter s’il te plaît? Can you please repeat that?
Then, open to a random section (or choose one) in your phrasebook and follow the script! Just read the sentences and ask questions to your partner. With that you can already try to spend dozens of minutes speaking French, even if you’ve never said a single word before!
2. A Spaced Repetition System (SRS)
To make you learn vocabulary really efficiently
In my opinion, it's the best tool to learn new words and remember them for a long time.
If you don't like trying to remember long lists of vocabulary, a spaced repetition system software can be your new best friend to learn French quickly. What is an SRS? It's basically a system to help you learn and remember words and sentences (it can be anything actually) by scheduling the review of flashcards you learnt, in order to put them in your long-term memory.
The most famous one is Anki, the computer program is free as well as the app. To use it you have to download decks from the web. Everything is explained here:
Anki (Friendly, Intelligent Flashcards) 2.0 User Manual
If you have a smartphone or tablet, MosaLingua makes a really good one to learn French and there are already 3,000 words and sentences well selected in the app. Check it out: MosaLingua: Learn words, enjoy the world
You can also use Memrise, it's free, a little bit fancier than Anki, but less intensive:
Memrise: learning, powered by imagination
3. A French Person
Yes, they eat frogs and they smell bad, but at least they know how to speak French, and that's something you're looking for! Find a language partner on italki, a tutor, or a good teacher. Maybe you can also find French speakers in your area.
Don't wait to be "ready" to try to speak, because you'll never be actually ready, it's just in your mind. Au contraire, if you start having conversations with a native early, you will get used to making mistakes, and as we’ve seen before, it's an important point to learn quickly!
To make the exchange or the teaching session useful and less stressful you can prepare for the conversation and a little bit for what you'll talk about … with the phrasebook and the sentences you remember from your SRS ;)
Try to stick to the French language as much as you can! Make communication your priority before perfection. You need a little bit of time to get used to finding your words in the other language, and making mistakes is the proof that you're on the right path. If your personal French speaker is trying to speak too much English, feel free to remind him or her that you want to hear French as much as possible, "En français s'il vous plaît".
4. A French TV Show
(that you will get addicted to)
Why a TV show? Because, it seems to still be one of the best types of entertainment in your target language, to spend time in front of, enjoying it.
Should I watch it with English subtitles, French subtitles, no subtitles? Well, it's up to you, but it's often said that the harder, the better. That said, the key to consistency is to like what you're doing, so don't be too hard on yourself.
You can check out this one: Extra french avec sous-titres- Episode 1 on YouTube; it's made for French learners. Yeah, maybe it doesn't look so great, but it's a really good start because it comes with French subtitles!
This one: Clash la série S01E01 (complet) en français is not made for learning, but for a free show, it's quite interesting.
This web-serial is my personal favorite: Le visiteur du futur.
For those who never find time to watch anything, you can try one of these short web-serials:
- Un gars, une fille (Before Jean Dujardin was famous)
- Bref : probably the fastest French you'll ever listen to. But, you can try.
If you want to find other good French tv shows to buy, you can check out this list:
IMDB: Most Popular French-Language Titles
I hope you found this article useful, and if you want to learn French quickly, feel free to contact me, I’d be happy to help you.