My biggest problem with learning a new language is getting overwhelmed at the sheer volume of things to memorize. Somehow my brain processes, “There is so much to learn!” as ” whoa, better stop now”, rather than the more successful approach of, “better start chipping away”. The best way I have found to counteract that is to have a plan and really try sticking to it. In essence putting on blinders to the mountains of French I don’t know all around me, to focus on the French ahead of me I am trying to learn. So this time my “plan” was this:
Get out “French in 10 minutes a day” and start going through it. I like this series and the” Learn Language X the Fast and Fun Way” one. They are simple, get right into the basics and come with flash cards 🙂 They are workbooks, and I personally learn well from writing down the things I am learning… plus I already had it from that time 5 years ago when I decided I should learn French… then promptly didn’t.
In addition to the workbook, I also wrote down all the words I was learning in three columns in a notebook: the English word, the french word, and the phonetic spelling.
Every night I would study and add to my list of words, and every morning I would cover up everything but the English word column and quiz myself on the French, by writing it down and saying it out loud.
I believe, especially in French that you need to do a lot of your learning out loud. You need to hear the words pronounced correctly and you need to get in the habit of speaking immediately. Of course it helps to be in a French-speaking area. Being immersed is probably the easiest and best way to learn a language. It’s all around you all the time, you are constantly hearing and seeing the language and often being forced to use it. Even when you don’t understand what you are reading or hearing, I think that constant barrage of the language is helping a lot. Your eyes and ears start getting used to the language, word by word it no longer sounds or looks like a blur of nonsense. Even outside of a French-speaking area you can learn. With sites like italki and livemocha you can find real people looking to speak other languages with you. A quick craigslist search might find you language partners as well!
That all said it really does depend on your goals. My main goal is always conversation, so talking with others is key. However if your goal is to read “Les Misérables” then your time should be spent reading, reading and then reading some more.
Mind snacks is really fun to play and it is a great way to learn vocab for me. Duolingo is a good learning tool because of the many different ways it has you working through sentences. They also both are great ways to listen and repeat basic french words over and over. Most of all these apps work well because they are so fun.
My reading is coming along much quicker than my listening skills, so I think in the next week I will try to listen to more material 🙂
pick a plan and stick with it
start speaking right away
listen and read French as much as you can!