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Learn to Speak French - How Not to Give Up - Tips for Beginners

Aug 17, 2007
Focus on your goal in learning French - maybe you are about to visit a French-speaking country on business, perhaps you need to speak to colleagues in French or have a French-speaking pen friend. Or maybe you're just going on vacation and would like to be able to order food and ask directions.

If you have a specific goal in mind which you can focus on you should find learning much easier. Try putting a picture of whatever represents your goal - a photo of your holiday destination etc - somewhere you will see it regularly and be reminded of your goal.

I started to learn French when I travelled to fleamarkets there to buy decorative antiques for my shop - being able to speak even basic French helped me enormously in bargaining for better prices and made the whole experience more fun.

Try to find a learning package that suits your lifestyle. There are lots of different types of French course - the old-fashioned textbook-only approach has been overtaken by interactive language courses, the best of which may combine CDs, audio, software etc where you are able to listen to the language being spoken and get a chance to speak yourself.

Some of the software available really makes it fun to learn by using interactive games. If it's difficult to find time at home you can listen to audio while on your way to work or while you're jogging etc.

You might like to think about doing classes at a night school /adult education institute - you will be with people who are at the same level of proficiency as yourself.

Speaking French with other people will help overcome any reticence or embarrassment you might feel when you are actually trying to speak when you are abroad or with a French person. And don't worry, everyone in the class will make mistakes and they won't all be better at it than you!

Doing a class may also help you to meet people that you could see outside of class to try out your new language skills. Classes can be a useful addition to whatever package you are using at home, and your classmates will help your motivation and stop you from feeling isolated in your learning.

Don't try to do several hours a day and then nothing for a week - it will be far easier to absorb what you've learnt if you do, say, 15 or 20 minutes once or twice a day, and far more manageable.

Learning in bite-sizes chunks doesn't feel nearly so daunting and you'll feel that you've achieved something every time you've completed a 15 minute session. This will help to give you the motivation to continue. You could try promising yourself a small reward or treat each time you finish a section of the course.

It is really important to keep using the skills you are acquiring - if you have no one you can speak French with, you can still say words and phrases out loud.

When you're at home you can try to think of the French words for the pieces of furniture and household objects, clothes, food etc that you have around you, and look up those you don't know.

You could write the French name for various things on little sticky notes and attach them to everyday items so that each time you look at that item you see the French name for it. This is a good technique to help you remember basic vocabulary.

Above all, don't let it become a chore. Keep it fun and you'll keep your enthusiasm for it.
About the Author
Bridget Bonnett has lived in France and travelled extensively there. For a fun way to learn French she recommends www.fastfunfrench.com
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