How to Learn French: the Most Popular Options

6/6/2014

Spoken in France, parts of the Caribbean, South America, and Africa, French is a popular romance language to learn. While it bears some similarities to English, French has its own set of rules governing verb conjugation, articles and sentence structure. The alphabet is the same in both French and English, but the pronunciation is wildly different. All of this is to say that French can be a difficult language to learn. There are a variety of proven methods to learn French, including the use of traditional textbooks in a classroom setting. However, many students are now turning to online resources in order to receive cost-effective and interactive French language instruction. Here we will explore the many options for those looking to learn to speak French. 


Taking a traditional French language course 


A French course generally follows a standard curriculum that is based on a textbook. Depending on your starting point and the quality of the teacher and the classroom materials, you may be able to quickly advance your French learning with this approach. Classes will typically meet several times a week in a pre-defined location. The course could be part of a larger education program, or it could be a stand-alone class. In any case, you will have to pay for a course like this, and rates vary from one institution to the next. Some places may offer free language courses, but the level of instruction may not be sufficient to really advance your study of French. 

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Learning French with an in-person tutor 


If you find yourself overwhelmed by the group setting of a traditional classroom, an in-person tutor may be exactly what you need. In-person tutors can meet you in your home or at a tutoring center. They can teach lessons from the ground up, provide one-on-one support and act as a conversation partner when you need to practice speaking French. Many people would consider this to be one of the best ways to learn French, but you need to factor in the financial cost to make a true assessment. In-person tutors typically charge by the hour, and they can be expensive. If you have an extensive budget, an in-person tutor may be a feasible option. If not, you may want to consider some of the other resources mentioned here. 


How to learn French with language software 


There are many well established language software companies. Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone are two of the most notable enterprises in this domain. The software typically includes reading and writing lessons, as well as audio instruction. While many people have found success learning a language with these computer applications, there are a few disadvantages that are worth noting. For one, software like this can be expensive. You can expect to pay several hundred dollars for the most basic versions. Another disadvantage concerns support. Most people wondering how to learn French will assume that instructional language resources are interactive. This may not be the case with language learning software. For example, if you get stuck at some point, it can be difficult to ask the computer program for help. 

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Learning French online 


In recent years, French language learning resources have blossomed in all corners of the internet. These resources bear some similarities to the aforementioned language learning software, but there is one major difference: online resources are dynamic and interactive. Here are a few of the more well known online language learning tools: 


Message boards and language exchanges - For anyone interested in learning French online, a great way to begin is by exploring message boards and language exchanges. These are places where language learners converge to talk about the best resources they've found and the struggles they may be having with certain language concepts. You may be able to find people to practice with on these sites, and you will likely stumble upon some top online language learning tools that are inexpensive and easy to use. 


Online tutors - Online tutors are not too different from in-person tutors. While online tutors have a virtual meeting place, they can provide the same level of one-on-one attention and support as in-person tutors. They are often more affordable, and of course, they are far more convenient. It is for these reasons that many students consider this to be the easiest way to learn French. 


Instructional videos - Instructional videos are not interactive, because you cannot engage the video author. Despite their limitations, however, instructional videos can be very productive learning tools, and many students consider them to be a good resource to learn French fast. With instructional videos, words can be superimposed on the screen while they are pronounced out loud. By combining audio and visual elements in the same framework, students can learn new vocabulary and concepts very quickly.


Learn to speak French through cultural immersion 


Learning through immersion requires you to travel to a place where French is written and spoken. By doing so, you will be surrounded by French speakers every day. You will learn the language, because you do not have a choice. This is often considered the fastest way to learn French, but it can also be the most costly, and it may not be realistic. You might not be able to simply move and start living in a foreign country. However, for those that have a substantial budget, this is a great way to learn the language while also discovering a new culture. 


The best way to learn French 


The best approach to learning French may be different from one person to the next. However, there are a few general conclusions that we can draw based on the aforementioned language learning tools. Some resources are more convenient than others, and some are more affordable. All things being equal, the best way to learn French is one that won't break the bank or create too many inconveniences. In this light, online resources are particularly attractive. Many of them are free or low-cost, and you don't need to worry about scheduling or even leaving your house in order to take advantage of them. 


There are many proven methods for learning French, from traditional classroom instruction and in-person tutors to online resources and cultural immersion. While lots of people want to know how to learn French fast, you need to work within your means in order to achieve your language learning goals. You may not have a substantial budget, but if you have enough free time to put into language learning, you can go far with online resources, which also happen to offer flexibility and convenience.

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