So, how long have you been learning French for?
When you answer this question for yourself, you have to be very clear on the level and proficiency you are aiming for.
Is writing and watching movies enough for you? Need to take a test? Want to converse with the natives?
Let me start with a story…
One of the greatest memories of my life was when I went on a trip to a foreign country with my parents for the first time. My dad used to tour constantly with his symphonic orchestra, and because of this, I had no other dream but to travel.
And here I was, for the first time in a place where people were speaking a different language than I was used to, who were wearing weird clothes and who didn’t know me even a little bit.
As my dad drove through this new country, I loved to read the signs in the streets, and to listen the radio station that didn’t sound like anything I was used to.
My major feeling was of disbelief, watching my own feet as if they were somebody else’s, on the pavement of a strange land.
One of the countries we went to was Germany, and my dad would proudly keep his German well oiled, in the event that we would need to ask for directions or any other help while in Berlin. My dad’s German was constantly in practice with the help of a significant pile of books, as I only knew English from school and from movies.
The last day of our stay in Berlin, after taking a ton of photos, we sat on a patio and had a beer, before going back to the car to embark on our return trip.
Distracted and not used to the ways of that foreign place, we started to walk to the car, when we realized that my bag with all the pictures taken, plus my passport and the rest of my money, was left on the patio, without supervision.
We ran back – the bag was nowhere to be found. Dad started to ask some peeps sipping their last drop of beer – they didn’t seem to understand his German. In a last effort to get some information, I asked our question in English and it was with great pleasure that I got my bag, in dad’s total disbelief.
My practical (and practiced) English came to the rescue, in spite of dad’s constant abnegation to use good theory in keeping up his German game.
How overrated is bilingualism?
Becoming bilingual opens up a new world – books say — a world of different people, different cultures, and different sentiments.
Learning a new language has been shown to delay Alzheimer’s, boost brainpower, reduce cognitive biases, increase concentration, and the ability to tune out distractions.
But, more so, the ability to speak a second language has a ton of social benefits. There’s an awesome feeling in being able to order food in a waiter’s native language.
The coolest thing about learning your second language is that it makes learning a third or fourth language much easier.
In fact, the challenge isn’t in learning a new language, but learning how to learn it. Once you know the techniques, you’ll be able to apply the same language techniques in every new language you learn.
6 strategies to learn French in 90 days
This is what the statistics say:
- Get the right resources for learning: A grammar book, memorization software, and films/books.
- Get a private French-language coach: You will want one for at least 3 months. It is recommended 1 hour with them a week and 1 hour/day on your own, at least 5 days/week. (NOTE: if you want to be really self-sufficient, and reach fluency faster, the ideal time with your coach is 5 months).
- Attempt to speak and think only in French: Every time you can’t remember a word, put that word into your memorization software. Practice your vocabulary daily.
- Find friends, French language partners, and other French speakers: Once you can have basic conversations with your private French language coach, you need to find others to speak with. If you haven’t already, think about moving to the country where the language is spoken. Practice continuously. Stop speaking English. Keep your French language coach as a trusted conversation partner, who knows how to correct you.
- Days 1-30– during the first month, work one on one with a private French-language coach — not group classes: Group classes allow you to sit back and be lazy, while a private French-language coach forces you to learn. You need to immerse yourself as fully as possible. You want to start memorizing around 30 words and phrases per day. Pay attention to your pronunciation
Days 31-60– After your first month, it’s time to focus on exposing yourself to French as much as possible: After a month of private coaching, you’ll have the ability to have basic conversations.
Days 61-90 – By day 60, you should be in a good position to speak the language: You just simply need to keep practicing.
- This is the strategy that comes TO THE RESCUE, from yours truly. In case you couldn’t learn 30 words and phrases per day, you don’t have the luxury to move to a country where French is spoken, when you do have a life and family and job and you can’t spend 4 hours/day with a tutor, but still want to have that skill under your belt. 6 more weeks are necessary, if you want to have French under your skin and, rather than gulping words and expressions that are easily spit out by the brain due to overload, you can then learn 10 words and expressions every week, and make this process a natural, smooth assimilation. Why 10? Because the 200 most common words make up 50% of occurrences. Are you more ambitious? With 60 words and expressions/week, you get up to 70% of occurrences.
Immerse yourself as you FINALLY reach your dream of becoming bilingual, learn to speak Parisian French, and BREAK your language barrier!
Now it is your turn!
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