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What is the best way to learn French?

HIGH NOONHIGH NOON Registered User regular
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
hey guys.

so i've struggled with french my whole life. i don't know a second language, but i was taught it from 1st grade to 9th grade in school, and i've decided to actually learn it last year when i was accepted to community college. took introduction french I and then hardly studied, as my acceptance to a university became known three weeks into my 2nd semester, the semester I was studying french.

I got a 58. barely enough to earn the credit. fast forward to university, i take intro to french II, under the presumption that it would move at baby steps compared to intro to I; after all, there were 9 other courses strictly meant to teach french. first day of that class, the professor addresses me, i hardly get a structured sentence out.

it intimidated me greatly. now i am back in intro I, and my teacher is moving at a snail's pace. i feel like i'm back in high school; wholeheartedly enthused with learning French. as a result, i am not motivated.

i am asking: what are some ways for me to learn french outside of school? at least ways to practice, keep motivated in learning, and sky-rocket my way towards basic conversion? I really want to keep at it, but need to find fun exercises, and more importantly, good ways to learn the language despite poor teachers who are unengaged and thus will waste time. i want to hear especially from any of you, who have learned languages on their own, and methods you used help get you where you are with your second language now.



tl; dr
want to learn french, new speaker. attempt to learn french on one's own. suggestions for study materials you've used, methods you've used, and ways YOU'VE accomplished learning a second language (not just french) are appreciated.

thank you.

HIGH NOON on

Posts

  • RevolutionaryRevolutionary Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Try go on an exchange to France - it did wonders for my French. I'm now semi-addicted to learning it and have kept it up since my return.

    Revolutionary on
  • ZeonZeon Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Watch french TV. I have a friend who says he learned all his english from watching CNN 10 hours a day in college back in Ivory Coast.

    Alternatively, you could find a french friend and practice speaking french with them, or hire a french tutor, or, as suggested above, move to france and fully immerse yourself. But im assuming you live in canada (because you say you studied french from 1st-9th grade) so the french you learn in france wont be as helpful if you want to learn canadian french.

    Zeon on
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  • ZoolanderZoolander Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    The best way is of course full immersion, but probably impractical for you.

    My other suggestion is to start reading in French. A lot. Like at least an hour a day of reading something in French. What you should read will depend on your current proficiency. I suggest Asterix and Obelix comics because it's very engaging even without full comprehension of the text. If you've studied for 9 years, you should be able to read them fairly easily. Keep a dictionary with you to learn the words you can't figure out from context. It'll probably be pretty frustrating at the beginning, but you will slowly pick up the grammar and slowly build up vocabulary. You should move on to other books if you find them to be easy. I find reading is better than watching TV because reading is more active and takes more effort than listening to TV.

    Also, this is a really great site for picking up small French intricacies and understanding some differences between English and French: http://french.about.com/. My French is reasonably good (I communicate daily in French with clients and write emails, reports, etc. in French, but it still helped clarify some subtle differences between English and French that I always ignored previously.

    Zoolander on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Yep, as it sounds like you're in uni you need to figure out if you can do a year in continental Europe for your course. Failing that, there are lots of French job websites that advertise summer placements and internships. Or if you're a science/engineering type, you can often directly email the group heads to see if you can work with them for three months or so.

    I'm also learning French having not studied it since I was fourteen and being twenty-six now. The local university offers evening classes, which I am taking and I try do a little big of work outside of the class each day.

    My French is still awful and I've been learning properly for over a year, but it is remarkably better than what it was.

    Once you're at the level where you can hold a stilted, slow conversation, go to your nearest language centre (might be in the university, might be more a municipal thing) and you should find loads of postcards on a noticeboard advertising native speakers of language wanting to speak a bit of language Y. So you find one who wants to do some speaking in English in exchange for speaking French, then you meet them for coffee once a week.

    Mojo_Jojo on
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  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    HIGH NOON wrote: »
    as a result, i am not motivated.

    Commitment is greater than motivation.

    Motivation is fleeting, especially when learning a language, which can become dull and tedious at times. But build up a routine that revolves around that language, be it a passive activity like listening to music or watching TV or something that engages your mind more actively like speaking to a person or translating a conversation in your mind.

    MagicToaster on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2010
    Zeon wrote: »
    Watch french TV. I have a friend who says he learned all his english from watching CNN 10 hours a day in college back in Ivory Coast.

    Yessss, this is the best thing.

    It won't teach you the language you want to learn, only reinforce things like structure and pronunciation. You also get to learn some interesting vocabulary. But if you can find some French shows you like in addition to your studies, it may be a big help to you.

    Also, the news. Often, news anchors use standardized forms of the language, or easier-to-understand dialects.

    You aren't going to understand the programming you choose, so don't worry about that; just get stuff with subtitles. The point isn't learn French by watching TV, but to supplement your efforts elsewhere and increase your exposure to the sound of the language.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I feel your pain. My french professor recommended this to me. Go to this site everyday: http://www.rfi.fr/lffr/statiques/accueil_apprendre.asp and click on "Journal en français facile"

    They have a transcript you can listen to after you're done.

    It helps a lot.

    adytum on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    See if your cable provider can get TV5 Monde for you. Excellent French channel with subtitles in English.

    Otherwise, yeah, immersion. Stick it out through the classes, they will get harder and motivate you. I'm currently in 201 right now and I'm spending next Fall in Poitiers through my university.

    Try Livemocha.com as well.

    And your teachers aren't "poor". Intros move at a snail's pace no matter what language it is.

    Esh on
  • SneakertSneakert Registered User
    edited November 2010
    I learned most of my English from watching subtitled tv shows as a kid. I guess it can help one learn any language.

    I like zoolanders idea too, reading french comics would probably be a fun way to learn a language. I'm trying to learn spanish myself so i think ill go ahead and order some spanish comics.

    Sneakert on
  • sirchrissypoosirchrissypoo Registered User
    edited November 2010
    Absorb yourself in French as much as possible. Read in French, speak French as often as possible, that kind of thing. The less opportunities where you can fall back on English, the better. Force yourself to get through conversations and such in French.

    Also, if you can afford it, Rosetta Stone actually does work pretty well in my opinion.

    sirchrissypoo on
  • rabidrabbitsrabidrabbits Registered User
    edited November 2010
    I used Rosetta Stone for German and it has done wonders. My German is still awful, but I have enough of a foundation that my main problem is a lack of vocabulary. I can very easily turn the dial in my head from English to German for when I hear/read the language as well as when I construct sentences.

    And since I'd hate to start a new thread for such a closely related question, does anyone have any useful tips for furthering my understanding German? I'm at a point in my life where I'm moving around too much to take a class or regularly meet with people, but I have a couple readers and the internet is stable enough that I can do stuff on a regular basis.

    rabidrabbits on
  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I'm using Rosetta Stone for Russian and love it (the Totale Online dealie), but it is gnarly expensive.

    Daemonion on
  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    the podcast "lear french by podcast" is made very professionally and helped me pick up a lot of new stuff.

    The_Glad_Hatter on
  • HIGH NOONHIGH NOON Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    All excellent advice, much appreciated! I do not have cable television, but have been looking for DVDs of children's cartoons (read: spongebob squarepants and arthur) because, being in Canada, they usually have a French dub as opposed to a Spanish dub. I'm also considering purchasing Rosetta Stone.

    HIGH NOON on
  • physi_marcphysi_marc Positron Tracker Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    HIGH NOON wrote: »
    All excellent advice, much appreciated! I do not have cable television, but have been looking for DVDs of children's cartoons (read: spongebob squarepants and arthur) because, being in Canada, they usually have a French dub as opposed to a Spanish dub. I'm also considering purchasing Rosetta Stone.

    On that note, the French dubs of Disney animated features are always excellent. Same goes with the Miyazaki movies (those that have a French dubs).

    physi_marc on
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  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I really wouldn't spend money on Rosetta Stone. I played with a trial briefly and found it next to useless because of the iffy speech recognition (it seemed to rely on me speaking French in an American accent). Having looked at various reviews of it, it doesn't seem well regarded.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2010
    I would generally say that Rosetta Stone is okay, but not nearly worth what it costs. If it were under $50 I'd say go for it, but in my experience it was pretty useless.

    Note that I my languages of choice all have different character sets, which adds another dimension of irritation to that particular type of program.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • HozHoz Cool Cat Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    How much is Rosetta Stone? 200 bucks?

    That doesn't seem worth it. Better off watching some french TV and finding a french translation of a good book you've already read in English and reading it over and over again. That's basically what my brother and I do to re-familiarize ourselves with our first language.

    Hoz on
  • SygnonSygnon Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    watch movies you know in french, watch everything with french subtitles. find a native speaker and work something out where you can talk for a few hours a day.

    Sygnon on
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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Sygnon wrote: »
    watch movies you know in french, watch everything with french subtitles. find a native speaker and work something out where you can talk for a few hours a day.

    FYI, the subtitles are most of the time not a literal translation (or even close) of what is being spoken. Once I learned enough French to start to pick apart movies, it's pretty humorous to see how bad the translations are.

    Esh on
  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    HIGH NOON wrote: »
    All excellent advice, much appreciated! I do not have cable television...

    http://www.france24.com/fr/

    zeeny on
  • UnderwhelmingUnderwhelming myMomIsTheJam July 13, 2013 Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I always thought reading French Children-aged books would be a great way to continue learning the language once you had a foothold on some vocabulary and grammar.

    Underwhelming on
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I always thought reading French Children-aged books would be a great way to continue learning the language once you had a foothold on some vocabulary and grammar.

    Some of mine...
    5141652269_d443267058_z.jpg

    ...and more.
    5142257050_b4083e2308_z.jpg

    Esh on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I've been looking for bilingual copies of the Harry Potter books. I could have sworn such things existed, but I've not spotted any.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've been looking for bilingual copies of the Harry Potter books. I could have sworn such things existed, but I've not spotted any.

    In what language. Try typing "harry potter (language)" into Amazon. Powells.com has quite a few as well. Or do you mean like "French on one page, English translation on the next"?

    Esh on
  • CygnusZCygnusZ Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    Sygnon wrote: »
    watch movies you know in french, watch everything with french subtitles. find a native speaker and work something out where you can talk for a few hours a day.

    FYI, the subtitles are most of the time not a literal translation (or even close) of what is being spoken. Once I learned enough French to start to pick apart movies, it's pretty humorous to see how bad the translations are.

    Translations are like women.
    The pretty ones are never loyal, and the loyal ones are never pretty.

    CygnusZ on
  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    http://www.elul.ulaval.ca/sgc/FLE/lang/en_CA/pid/6377

    Go to Québec and learn French. It's cheaper than Paris, closer, and not full of douchebags who will correct you over every little mistake. If you happen to go to la Ville de Québec, you'll also be in the most beautiful city in North America.

    saggio on
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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    saggio wrote: »
    http://www.elul.ulaval.ca/sgc/FLE/lang/en_CA/pid/6377

    Go to Québec and learn French. It's cheaper than Paris, closer, and not full of douchebags who will correct you over every little mistake. If you happen to go to la Ville de Québec, you'll also be in the most beautiful city in North America.

    It's also not the same as Parisian french.

    Esh on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've been looking for bilingual copies of the Harry Potter books. I could have sworn such things existed, but I've not spotted any.

    In what language. Try typing "harry potter (language)" into Amazon. Powells.com has quite a few as well. Or do you mean like "French on one page, English translation on the next"?

    The latter, I've a few short story collections with the left hand page in English and the right in French. The better ones also have a little space at the bottom devoted to various idioms and peculiarities of language.

    Ages ago, I saw a Japanese-English Harry Potter. I was hoping they existed for all languages.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    saggio wrote: »
    http://www.elul.ulaval.ca/sgc/FLE/lang/en_CA/pid/6377

    Go to Québec and learn French. It's cheaper than Paris, closer, and not full of douchebags who will correct you over every little mistake. If you happen to go to la Ville de Québec, you'll also be in the most beautiful city in North America.

    Why so bitter?

    zeeny on
  • ZoolanderZoolander Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    The difference between metropolitan Quebec French and Paris French is exaggerated. Learn one and you'll be able to pick up the other. It took me a week max to get acclimatised to Paris French.

    Zoolander on
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    ceres wrote: »
    I would generally say that Rosetta Stone is okay, but not nearly worth what it costs. If it were under $50 I'd say go for it, but in my experience it was pretty useless.

    Note that I my languages of choice all have different character sets, which adds another dimension of irritation to that particular type of program.

    Yeah I got the French one to help me out in my French class but it really does suck. After the first week I stopped using the program and focused all my energy into the class.

    urahonky on
  • KabitzyKabitzy find me in Monsbaiya Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've been looking for bilingual copies of the Harry Potter books. I could have sworn such things existed, but I've not spotted any.

    In what language. Try typing "harry potter (language)" into Amazon. Powells.com has quite a few as well. Or do you mean like "French on one page, English translation on the next"?

    The latter, I've a few short story collections with the left hand page in English and the right in French. The better ones also have a little space at the bottom devoted to various idioms and peculiarities of language.

    Ages ago, I saw a Japanese-English Harry Potter. I was hoping they existed for all languages.

    Apparently Amazon has such books, only they seem to be exclusively children's books. I will continue looking for a bilingual Harry Potter or other young adult book since I am very interested in this thread as well for advancing my French!

    http://www.amazon.com/Bilingual-childrens-French-English-languages/lm/R3ENECB7HV231N

    e: I had an idea; I'll message the Foreign Language department on my campus and see if they know where to find such books. I'll post if they tell me anything helpful.

    Kabitzy on
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  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Kabitzy wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    I've been looking for bilingual copies of the Harry Potter books. I could have sworn such things existed, but I've not spotted any.

    In what language. Try typing "harry potter (language)" into Amazon. Powells.com has quite a few as well. Or do you mean like "French on one page, English translation on the next"?

    The latter, I've a few short story collections with the left hand page in English and the right in French. The better ones also have a little space at the bottom devoted to various idioms and peculiarities of language.

    Ages ago, I saw a Japanese-English Harry Potter. I was hoping they existed for all languages.

    Apparently Amazon has such books, only they seem to be exclusively children's books. I will continue looking for a bilingual Harry Potter or other young adult book since I am very interested in this thread as well for advancing my French!

    http://www.amazon.com/Bilingual-childrens-French-English-languages/lm/R3ENECB7HV231N

    e: I had an idea; I'll message the Foreign Language department on my campus and see if they know where to find such books. I'll post if they tell me anything helpful.

    I don't think they exist. If anyone would be able to get them, it would be Powell's Books and in all my time in their French literature section (it's right downtown) I've never seen bilingual Harry Potter. Google comes up with nothing either.

    Honestly, you're not going to be able to read or understand a lot until after you start to learn past, future, and conditional tenses as well as reciprocal verbs. Stick to kids kids books and comics until you get to that level.

    Esh on
  • DaemonionDaemonion USARegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    ceres wrote: »
    I would generally say that Rosetta Stone is okay, but not nearly worth what it costs. If it were under $50 I'd say go for it, but in my experience it was pretty useless.
    Being able to play online vocabulary games with other people or by myself, translate/read/listen to dozens and dozens of native-language stories, being able to access my course work from any computer, unlimited online, interactive classroom sessions with a native speaker, audio CDs to put on my mp3 player, and representative who helps you plan a learning schedule to meet your goals, plus all of the regular hundreds of hours worth learning stuff is worth way more than $50 in my opinion.

    To each his own, but OP, I've had nothing but great experiences so far with Rosetta Stone Totale.

    Daemonion on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2010
    Like I said in my note, my other languages of choice all have completely different character sets, for which I find the whole system they use irritating and damn near useless. That probably affects my opinion somewhat.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • JeanJean Fully vaccinated and boosted papa bear Gatineau, QuébecRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Since you're already in Canada, a trip to Jonquière or another small Québec town would do wonders. The quickest way to learn a language is to use it all the time and almost nobody in Jonquière speaks English so you'd have no choice ;).

    Jean on
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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    A lot of English learners do it by chatting online in English and playing games in English. Why not do the same, but for French? Join a French MMO.

This discussion has been closed.