- How much time do you spend studying French?When learning a foreign language, it is important to spend at least a few minutes studying every day. Language isn’t just a matter of memorization; it has to do with the way you think. You may have heard people talk about the concept of “thinking” in a language – this refers to the way that you formulate sentences in your head. Fluent French speakers are able to make sentences in their head in French, rather than translating what they want to say from their native language.
- What do you do when the About French newsletter arrives?Use my newsletter as a twice-weekly reminder to work on your French, by studying the new lesson, visiting the forums, reading the quotation of the day and word of the day, or just poking around my site until you find something interesting.
- How do you practice reading French?Reading French is quite difficult for many students, so it is important to practice with authentic materials like books and newspapers. In addition, the chatroom and forums are good places to practice reading and writing with other French speakers.
- What do you do upon learning a new word or grammar point?The best way to learn it for keeps is to practice using it right away. You can do this by talking to a friend or teacher, chatting, writing messages in the forums, or emailing your pen pals.
- What kind of dictionary do you use?Once you get serious about learning French, you need to invest in a decent French dictionary. Pocket dictionaries are good for the first year or so, but after that you really can’t live without a big hardcover dictionary. My favorite is the HarperCollins Robert, but I know some who swear by Harraps. After 3 years or so, I highly recommend investing in Le Petit Robert – get into the habit of looking things up and reading the French definition, rather than looking up translations.
- What do you do when someone corrects your writing?It is important to correct your writing immediately in order to retain the new information. Writing it down in your notes is less effective – you need to plug it right back into your original document.
- How are you learning French?Living in a francophone country is the best way, followed by studying in a formal situation like a class or with a tutor. Supplementing your lessons with the internet, audio resources, or software can help you in your studies, but these things can’t replace a human teacher.
- How do you practice your French?Unless you are learning French for a specific purpose, such as only answering the phone, you need to practice the four basic skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
- Why are you studying French?Learning French for a specific purpose is fine, but you’ll enjoy your studies a lot more and get more out of them if you appreciate the language itself. I believe that the people who are the most motivated about their French studies are those who see the beauty of the language and everything a second language offers: a better understanding of your own language, the ability to converse with people from other cultures, and more enjoyable travels in countries where that language is spoken, just to name a few.
- What do you do when talking to native French speakers?Take advantage of any opportunity to talk to native/fluent French speakers (one place to find them is the Alliance française). The more you practice, the more you learn. Besides that, what’s the point of learning French if you’re afraid to use it? Just get out there and go for it, and don’t worry about your mistakes. We’ve all been there! 🙂