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I took French for two years in high school and fell head over heels for the language and now I'm wanting to learn more. What is the best way? I have heard a lot of people watch movies and tv shows in French to get comfortable. The thing is I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I was thinking of maybe taking an online class or is in classroom easier?

Any suggestions?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Adele, I'd like to share my experience studying French, though I've since switched to Spanish the concepts still apply.

When I first started researching learning a language I was always frustrated because every resource said the best way to learn was full immersion and I didn't have the means to actually go to a french speaking country.

I think it is still true non the less. I have heard many a story of people taking 4 years of french in high school and walking away with nothing, but people who go to France for a month come back with brilliant and beautiful accents.

My biggest failure was that I studied french for months but never took the time to practice speaking it. I could read with the help of a dictionary but many of the words never solidified in my long term memory. Find someone to speak french with and you will be surprised how much you find yourself retaining. This can easily be done with Native speakers on Skype or through websites like Verbling.

Spotify makes it really easy to find foreign music because of the playlist feature, find some french music that you really enjoy, bonus points if you can get the lyrics. Hearing and seeing the word at the same time will do wonders and even help you get better at pronouncing new words for the first time.  Do the same for movies with subtitles.

Lastly, Don't deny teaching yourself Grammar. I still have a book dedicated solely to french Grammar, there are also some free ones (though dated) on Google Books. It really helped in the long run when trying to form sentences instead of just repeating memorized phrases.

Best of luck! don't give up when the going gets hard. Always end your studies on a good note . Don't get discouraged if you don't see any progress, learning a language is one of those things that you don't realize how far you've gone until you're on top of the mountain and can see the trail head at the bottom.

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Some good tips are watching a lot of French telly, because that will help to get you confident in understanding and communicating. For learning more vocabulary, try some online courses, such as memrise, babble and so forth.

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I think a good way to learn is immersion. Change your computer and phone's language to French would be your first step. Taking a long vacation to a French city would also really help.

In any case, on weekends, I would join a French skype gaming group and just listen to them talk. It's a great way to learn casual French.

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Since you have a lot of free time, I recommend you immerse yourself in several modes of study. TV shows, music, and movies are very important and probably the funnest way to learn. I mean you can sit there for hours listening to French without even thinking about it. Just make sure you choose entertainment that you like. It'll make it much easier to focus on and do repeatedly.

Despite all that, there's nothing like formal training. Grammar, vocabulary, and proper pronunciation is key to learning a foreign language well. And you can only learn that in a classroom with a teacher, giving you chapters to study, homework, tips, and corrections. I believe when it comes to languages, in-class lessons are best. Online lessons can be great, but you miss that one-on-one interaction which is very important in learning how to speak French well. How else will you know you are saying a word wrong or using the wrong word in a sentence. Teachers can also help with colloquialism.

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  • 4 weeks later...

These are some great tips on learning the language. I am deciding on what method I want to use. I took a couple of years in grammar school. What I learned is long forgotten, but the love of the language has stayed with me.

I did not see any of you mention Rosetta Stone. Any thoughts on that software program? Is it worth the price?

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I'm learning French on my own right now too. I think the best thing to do is to go through a French textbook while at the same time having authentic contact with the language. The University of Texas at Austin has a free online textbook called "Francais Interactif" (pardon the lack of the cedilla) that you could use to help with building familiarity with grammar and vocabulary to support your other more authentic uses of it. Finding a speaking partner or watching movies in French would be good, but it can be discouraging. If you watch movies but only understand 2% of what they're saying, I doubt that's a good investment of time.

What I like to do is read Harry Potter in French. The language (vocabulary and grammar) is a little easier since it's meant for young adults. I'm also familiar with story, which helps along. The enjoyable thing about reading is that you can go as slow or fast as you want.

The bottom line is that whatever you do, it has to be meaningful contact with the language, but more importantly, it has to be fun. If it's not fun, then you'll give up rather quickly. So have fun!

Re: Rosetta Stone--My advice is to not buy Rosetta Stone. It would be boring and not worth the price. There are plenty of free resources or authentic sources you can use. And remember, learning a foreign language is a slow process, and there is simply no way around that. But that's what also makes it so rewarding.

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Watching French television and movies with subtitles would definitely help with getting more used to the language and becoming more familiar with it.

Something to consider could be perhaps making a French friend online to practice your French with in return for perhaps helping them with their English? I can't think of any better way to learn French than to practice speaking/reading/writing it. Also communicating with a fluent French speaker would really help with your pronunciation as well as your grammar and overall fluency.

An online class could definitely really help you as well particularly in grammar and vocabulary, you seem quite motivated to learn French so I'm sure with a bit of effort you'll improve your French in no time!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've switched most of my language preferences to french. Like facebook, gmail, any site where I can set a language. Just so I'm forced to deal with the language sometimes. When you're writing in another language, switch the spellcheck options to the language.

But it's an active process, you have to read, write, speak often. Find some people who speak french and try and tell someone a story, your grammar will be awful but it will force you to explain something in the words you do know. Learn the little phrases like, "What's the word for?", "I don't understand, could you please repeat" in french so that you can use them in conversation. It shows your willing to learn and people will take their time with you.

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If you have a basic understanding of french, I would also recommend watching tv shows and listening to music. You could also try reading some books in french if you have the time and patience to search the words you don't know and the meaning in that context. Also, you could try reading again books that you've read in your native language.

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From a more general point of view.  Become as immersed in it as possible.  I've found that sometimes treating words as if there's no English equivalent but rather just using a visual interpretation is the best way to pick up vocabulary. In the same way that if you think of a bunny in English, you think of a small fluffy animal, when you think lapin you should think the same, rather than of the word bunny.  I went to France for a couple weeks a while ago, and my brain almost automatically did it.

Another thing would be self trust that you understand it and are able to move on.  Kind of like, in the same way you don't have to think before you walk, you are just able to get up and do it.  It's kind of like an impulse. If you associate speaking French with self trust and practice it's easier to gain a tonne more experience. If you continue to "try" and remember it, you'll always continue to "try" and remember it. It's a bit hard to explain. Check out someone like Scott H Young, who has a tonne of content on learning languages and well...everything.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just moved to a French speaking city and am having a hard time picking the language up. I learned french as a child in school but it really hasn't stuck with me like I had hoped. Any advice for helping me get back into the swing of things? I really do love the language and think it's very important to be bilingual.

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I think immersion would be the best way to do so in any way that you can. As some of the previous posts have already mentioned, surrounding yourself with the music and watching some conversations is a good way to start. I also learned a handful of phrases just by looking up some common ones on sites that have accompanying pronunciation audio, which is what has helped me in learning French the most so far since the pronunciations are very difficult to get down properly. Also, if you can find one, try to search for a language partner you could practice with either online or offline. I'm betting there are at least a few French speakers who would love to practice with you in exchange for English lessons. Good luck!

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