Ten Tips for Learning French

Learning a new language can be hard! That's why the France Buying Guide has put together out top 10 tips for learning French:


1. Immerse yourself
Before you go to France, soak up as much French as you possibly can by reading children’s books and/or following a self-teach programme (more on these later).When you get to France, as far as possible steer away from the English crowd (as tempting as it may be). Living in France means that you are forced to speak the language and what better way to do so than to completely immerse yourself in it? Try to find a non-tourist area where there are likely to be fewer locals who speak English. 

2. Practise daily
Speaking and writing French as much as possible will certainly reap rewards. Even setting aside a few minutes every day can be a huge advantage. Find someone to chat to or write flashcards and say them aloud to yourself. Keep a notebook and make a pact with yourself to learn, say, 10 words and 10 phrases each day. Believe me, you will be thrilled when you can use one of your phrases in a future conversation.
3. Set up a conversation exchange with a friend
Find someone who wants to exchange “their French” for “your English”. In the good old days this meant penfriends but nowadays you can do this online: you write in French, they write in English, and you correct each other.

4. Take a class
Look out for evening classes at the local college or adult education centre. Not only can being around other people in the same position as you be very encouraging, but having a fixed time to study every week can also help you stick to it.

5. Listen to French television or radio
Even if you do find it hard to understand, you will at least get used to the pronunciation and the rhythms of spoken French. The news is a good one to watch as newsreaders tend to speak slightly more slowly than say, actors in a film or series.

6. Don’t be shy
You will gain a lot more respect if you try to get your head around a complicated French phrase rather than packing it in after a half-hearted attempt. Few French people would judge you for making the odd mistake, so don’t be afraid of getting it wrong! They love it when they hear their language spoken with an English accent.

7. Combine language and culture
Get a feel for French culture by visiting museums and markets when you go to France. This way you can tune your ear to the sounds of the language as well as improving on your cultural knowledge!

8. Read French magazines and newspapers and children’s books
Try to incorporate enjoyable ways to learn French: do French crosswords or puzzles, read the French newspaper on a regular basis, or if comics interest you get hold of some old copies of Asterix, Tin-Tin and so on for a bit of light entertainment also.
9. Make a note of unknown vocabulary
Carry a (pocket sized) dictionary and a notebook with you whenever possible and look up any words that you do not recognise. Writing these words down, with a definition and a synonym can help you to register them in your mind.
10. Persevere
Try to remain motivated - remember that learning to speak French at conversational level will take time! Boost your confidence by telling yourself that learning any language is excellent for your brain!

Living in France should be a really good motivation for you to learn the language. We have a number of recommendations for starting your learning journey:

  • Set realistic short-term and long-term learning goals
  • Choose a good tool to help you – there are so many out there: books, online courses, DVDs, CDs or you can even go on a French course. Many France Buying Guide readers recommend Michel Thomas Foundation course, an 8 hour French course.
  • Visit France as often as you can, or practice, practice, practice once you have moved
  • Have a French station playing everywhere, or watch French TV where you can – even play yourselves some French songs whilst you mooch around the house. News programmes in particular are a worth watching, as the newsreaders will speak directly to the camera and often more slowly than actors.

Further reading for Living In France


Finding work in France

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in France.


Education in France

Are you emigrating to France with school-age children?



Social life in France

The best way to get settled in France is to find out as much as you can about your new community.



The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world...


Have a specific request regarding the buying property in France?


For more information on buying in or making the move overseas, contact the France Buying Guide Resources Team on 0207 898 0549 or email them here.

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