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elsmandino

Advice for beginner, struggling with French.

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Hello,

I am struggling to learn French and would be really grateful for some practical advice on what to do.

At the moment, I spend half an hour doing Duolingo, followed by half an hour of reading from these two sites:

https://www.1jour1actu.com/

https://savoirs.rfi.fr/en/apprendre-enseigner

In the evening, after work, I also try follow the Learn French with Alexa course on Youtube.

I would be really grateful for some advice on whether this is a good regime to stick with or whether my time could be spent with better resources.

I do not feel that I am getting that much better but maybe I am overestimating the time it takes to become any good at all with French.

Thanks.

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Hello! I would recommend  YouTube channel français authentique

. Guy there gives all sort of useful advices, speaks French distinctly and what is the best have all videos subtitled

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I agree with nkaretnikov, Français Authentique is the best resource for beginners in French, honestly! I listened to this channel for like an hour a day and after two weeks I was able to shift to other native French YouTubers.

It's great to start with just one speaker, so you can get used to his style, his prononciation and his vocabulary. This is the problem when you try watching French movies, for example, and there is a nice little blend of an African accent, a street slang, an accelerated speech and high-end vocab.

Also, I don't know within what time you want to learn French, but if you are a native English speaker it shouldn't take too long for you: just 600-700 hours. And it's the actual data from the official study conducted by Foreign Service Institute. You can read about their estimated language learning timelines here: 

http://linguapath.com/how-many-hours-learn-language/

If you're beginner, the first step is probably to pick up as much new vocabulary as possible. You're already using Duolingo, so I guess you're working on it.

When it comes to reading, I would prefer to find something more interesting than RFI :D maybe it's just my problem, but I find reading news incredibly boring. The best option is to find french blogs or podcasts on a topic you're interested in, like sports, hobbies, personal finance etc... It's not easy to find these resources when you're just starting speaking a new language, but it is worth it on a long run! You actually discover that a foreign language can be a source of information just like our first language, so you get +80k to motivation ;)

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There are some great advice here, but i would only like to add that for a beginner you should complement all the youtube videos and so on with a basic beginner’s book to give you the initial structure of the language. You should also bear in mind that there is no quick fix in language learning. it takes time and effort. Good luck

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Having to watch most of French movies without French subtitles, as they are not available most of the time. That reminds me of another big frustation, which is thinking I understanf French pretty well, and then not being able to understand half of a dialogue without saubtitles or captions.But frankly speaking I prefer some blogs that are led by simple bloggers. I heard they use all modern techniques of teaching, even the best hosting Zomro.net for their platforms to satisfy the clients needs on the highest level

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I subscribe to a few news feeds on Facebook, such as Le Figaro, Le Monde. On my cell phone, I use an old version Opera Mini browser, the only one I find that allows you to copy text in the big block of text plus image (not sure how to call it). In other browsers, you can't select the text. So, whenever in doubt, I copy the text and click the Google Translate bubble.

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The best way for you to learn French depends in good part on how you best learn a new language.   There are a number of methods of learning a language.    You might do best with a systematic approach to the grammar and a lot of drill work, an intuitive approach that gives you sentences or stories to read and you infer the grammatical features, which works well for many people who learn vocabulary and grammar easily and quickly, or an immersive technique like watching videos and changing the language your computer uses to communicate with you.   

Your chosen method also depends on your schedule and how you generally like to use time.   Duolingo has some drill work (and you can repeat it), and its French lessons offer a lot of drill work and eventually you can test out (repeatedly) if you've really got it.   Its biggest advantage is it's easy to use if you have small snatches of time available throughout the day or you're trapped on the bus for an hour getting home.   

Your ability to pick up spoken language will also have an impact on whether you're going to go with the learn from videos method.  It took me nearly until I was in kindergarten to learn my own native language by that method.   My memory isn't that great, a problem I share with my father, though we're both quite bright, so drillwork usually works better for me in any case.  I'm bright and analytical and I usually need things explained to me in detail.  Trying to learn to read, I hung up on where's the letter for the glottal stop - the uh sound that begins a word that starts with a vowel, like apple and egg.   Finally a remedial reading teacher answered the question!    

In any case, I've never learned a new language from spoken speech in my life - I can't even UNDERSTAND it unless I already know the words, and know them well, and people speak clearly and distinctly until I'm used to understanding the spoken language!  When I was in grade school they tried to teach us French by having us read sentences out loud, and everyone seemed to get it but me, though to be fair if noone else got it either we'd never know it.   Maybe the other kids were more willing to lie about it.   

That doesn't necessarily mean you won't learn from the videos, particularly if you're already able to make out what they're saying.  We've already heard here from someone who said it worked for him.    

I have proven able to learn in conversation with Spanish speakers if I already know many of the words and they're trying to be understood, besides which, Spanish on the TexMex border doesn't sound very different from English plus it's strictly phonetic, unlike French, which has such weird sounds Welsh and Gaelic are easier to understand, and French words aren't pronounced much like they're spelled.

If you try to do four different methods at once you're likely to burn out.   I've tried it - never had it last long.   In addition to four times the work, there is no such thing as two programs that teach the same features and vocabulary at the same time.

French Made Simple and French the Easy Way are two of the books I've found most useful at the beginner level.   French Made Simple emphasizes the experiences and language needs of a businessman and tourist, and beyond that, emphasizes culture.   French the Easy Way has more general interest exercises.   

When I was in high school I did well in French for the first time.  There was little spoken French.   We had a series of textbooks through the three years, which taught grammatical features and extensive drills where we wrote out sentences repeatedly, changing them so the grammar matched up.   This is exactly how I best learn a new language.  Today's high school language texts are far more likely to combine the intuitive method with immersive techniques, and they start out throwing a great deal at students all at once.   The texts I once succeeded with have gotten hard to find.

French has far more complex grammar than English does; verb endings that change by tense and by who is the speaker; three regular conjugations and numerous irregular ones.   Nouns vary by gender.   Adjectives have separate endings by singular/plural and gender.   French has a couple of dozen KINDS of articles and determinatives.   Unless you truly have the sort of memory that sees something once and you have it down, then if you don't use something like duolingo or a book that provides drillwork, you're going to be making up your own, which takes even more time.   

Warning about duolingo; you have to take many ways they say you must do things with a grain of salt.  They're a snooty and peculiar bunch.  I'm told I should respect them because they're volunteers who don't know what they're doing.   ???   Still you can usefully learn the language from them.   

What you probably MOST need to look out for with duolingo, though, is that it's highly unlikely duolingo and your videos will pronounce French the same way!    Not only do they pronounce French by different rules than those I've been consistently taught before, not to mention their own eclectic version of rules that have always confused me because everyone has them different, but, their Chilean accents come into it.  So, "nous avons" should be pronounced, "Nus avon".   The s on the end of nous is pronounced because the next word begins with a vowel.   Duo lingo will TELL you that it should be pronounced "Nu avon", and SOMETIMES pronounce it that way.  Often you will hear "Chu avon" or "Ju avon".   This is their Chilean Spanish accent at work!    Weak consonants just mysteriously morph into j and ch.  You'll only ever encounter this on duolingo, certainly not in your videos!    

It gets even better with regular verbs.  By Duolingo's pronunciation rules, regular verbs are generally pronounced alike no matter how they're conjugated.  If you can't make out what the pronoun is, your guess of whether it's tu parles (you speak) or nous parlons (we speak) may not be what you were meant to write out what you heard, and you'll persistently fail the exercise.  If you heard a gravelly "chu parl" you don't know what they're saying.  This problem was driving me buggy, and a key reason why I just turned off the sound.  Sorry, duolingo my computer has no speakers.   

So you know, French sets of pronunciation rules differ on when you pronounce ending vowels and ending consonants.  I don't know who pronounces what how, and it has always made it impossible for me to read French out loud.  (I happen to be very sure about how to pronounce nous avons, though.)  It almost certainly has to do with dialectical differences and shifts in how the language is pronounced over time.   Spanish and English are both worse in that regard.   (The chaotic spelling of English stems from a time when English had six or seven very different dialects.  Then, like Spanish, only since written English is younger not as badly and not as many different ways, English pronunciation has changed considerably since its spelling became standardized.)   

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35 minutes ago, villandra said:

The best way for you to learn French depends in good part on how you best learn a new language.   There are a number of methods of learning a language.    You might do best with a systematic approach to the grammar and a lot of drill work, an intuitive approach that gives you sentences or stories to read and you infer the grammatical features, which works well for many people who learn vocabulary and grammar easily and quickly, or an immersive technique like watching videos and changing the language your computer uses to communicate with you.   

Your chosen method also depends on your schedule and how you generally like to use time.   Duolingo has some drill work (and you can repeat it), and its French lessons offer a lot of drill work and eventually you can test out (repeatedly) if you've really got it.   Its biggest advantage is it's easy to use if you have small snatches of time available throughout the day or you're trapped on the bus for an hour getting home.   

Your ability to pick up spoken language will also have an impact on whether you're going to go with the learn from videos method.  It took me nearly until I was in kindergarten to learn my own native language by that method.   My memory isn't that great, a problem I share with my father, though we're both quite bright, so drillwork usually works better for me in any case.  I'm bright and analytical and I usually need things explained to me in detail.  Trying to learn to read, I hung up on where's the letter for the glottal stop - the uh sound that begins a word that starts with a vowel, like apple and egg.   Finally a remedial reading teacher answered the question!    

In any case, I've never learned a new language from spoken speech in my life - I can't even UNDERSTAND it unless I already know the words, and know them well, and people speak clearly and distinctly until I'm used to understanding the spoken language!  When I was in grade school they tried to teach us French by having us read sentences out loud, and everyone seemed to get it but me, though to be fair if noone else got it either we'd never know it.   Maybe the other kids were more willing to lie about it.   

That doesn't necessarily mean you won't learn from the videos, particularly if you're already able to make out what they're saying.  We've already heard here from someone who said it worked for him.    

I have proven able to learn in conversation with Spanish speakers if I already know many of the words and they're trying to be understood, besides which, Spanish on the TexMex border doesn't sound very different from English plus it's strictly phonetic, unlike French, which has such weird sounds Welsh and Gaelic are easier to understand, and French words aren't pronounced much like they're spelled.

If you try to do four different methods at once you're likely to burn out.   I've tried it - never had it last long.   In addition to four times the work, there is no such thing as two programs that teach the same features and vocabulary at the same time.

French Made Simple and French the Easy Way are two of the books I've found most useful at the beginner level.   French Made Simple emphasizes the experiences and language needs of a businessman and tourist, and beyond that, emphasizes culture.   French the Easy Way has more general interest exercises.   

When I was in high school I did well in French for the first time.  There was little spoken French.   We had a series of textbooks through the three years, which taught grammatical features and extensive drills where we wrote out sentences repeatedly, changing them so the grammar matched up.   This is exactly how I best learn a new language.  Today's high school language texts are far more likely to combine the intuitive method with immersive techniques, and they start out throwing a great deal at students all at once.   The texts I once succeeded with have gotten hard to find.

French has far more complex grammar than English does; verb endings that change by tense and by who is the speaker; three regular conjugations and numerous irregular ones.   Nouns vary by gender.   Adjectives have separate endings by singular/plural and gender.   French has a couple of dozen KINDS of articles and determinatives.   Unless you truly have the sort of memory that sees something once and you have it down, then if you don't use something like duolingo or a book that provides drillwork, you're going to be making up your own, which takes even more time.   

Warning about duolingo; you have to take many ways they say you must do things with a grain of salt.  They're a snooty and peculiar bunch.  I'm told I should respect them because they're volunteers who don't know what they're doing.   ???   Still you can usefully learn the language from them.   

What you probably MOST need to look out for with duolingo, though, is that it's highly unlikely duolingo and your videos will pronounce French the same way!    Not only do they pronounce French by different rules than those I've been consistently taught before, not to mention their own eclectic version of rules that have always confused me because everyone has them different, but, their Chilean accents come into it.  So, "nous avons" should be pronounced, "Nus avon".   The s on the end of nous is pronounced because the next word begins with a vowel.   Duo lingo will TELL you that it should be pronounced "Nu avon", and SOMETIMES pronounce it that way.  Often you will hear "Chu avon" or "Ju avon".   This is their Chilean Spanish accent at work!    Weak consonants just mysteriously morph into j and ch.  You'll only ever encounter this on duolingo, certainly not in your videos!    

It gets even better with regular verbs.  By Duolingo's pronunciation rules, regular verbs are generally pronounced alike no matter how they're conjugated.  If you can't make out what the pronoun is, your guess of whether it's tu parles (you speak) or nous parlons (we speak) may not be what you were meant to write out what you heard, and you'll persistently fail the exercise.  If you heard a gravelly "chu parl" you don't know what they're saying.  This problem was driving me buggy, and a key reason why I just turned off the sound.  Sorry, duolingo my computer has no speakers.   

So you know, French sets of pronunciation rules differ on when you pronounce ending vowels and ending consonants.  I don't know who pronounces what how, and it has always made it impossible for me to read French out loud.  (I happen to be very sure about how to pronounce nous avons, though.)  It almost certainly has to do with dialectical differences and shifts in how the language is pronounced over time.   Spanish and English are both worse in that regard.   (The chaotic spelling of English stems from a time when English had six or seven very different dialects.  Then, like Spanish, only since written English is younger not as badly and not as many different ways, English pronunciation has changed considerably since its spelling became standardized.)   

Thank you for all that great advice, villandra!

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Practicing daily with duolingo and watching videos seems like a great plan! I would recommend sticking to it. When you are learning a new language it often happens that you feel like you are not making progress for a while and then all of a sudden you notice how much you have improved.

Another tool to help you become fluent is to read in the language you want to learn. You expand your vocabulary and learn the rules implicitly. For that I recommend https://fluentpad.com/ in which you learn books in French and you can click on the words or sentences that you do not understand for a translation.

Good luck!

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