Discover the best way to learn French (10 tips for beginners & intermediates)

November 10, 2023

Every language-learning method has its pros and cons. 

But there’s one thing all of them agree on: nothing beats immersion.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to drop everything, pack up their bags. and move to Paris…

Which is why we’ve listed 10 super-useful tips for those who want to learn French. Some of them are tricks you can incorporate into your learning; others will help you organise your time and create your own study plan of action. 

Ready to get started? Let’s get going!

Here are our 10 top tips to help you find the best way to learn French:

1. Make time for French

Let’s face it: even with the best intentions, one of the hardest things about learning French is making time for it.

So the first step is really about finding time to study. Whether you decide on 20 minutes a day a few hours a week, it’s important to strike a balance between what’s manageable, realistic, and what won’t make you suffer from burnout in the long run.

2. Look at the big picture

So you’ve set time aside for your daily or weekly French studying session. Great!

The next step is to decide when you think you’ll achieve your end learning goal.

Timelines will vary, depending on the learner. 

Maybe you want to cram and study intensively for 6 months? Or you want to take your time and give it a couple of years? 

That’s not something the method can decide for you: you’ll have to set long-term goals as well as short term ones.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize

Speaking of goals, one big challenge when learning French (or any other language, for that matter) is staying motivated

Even with the best of intentions, your progress might on occasion slow down. 

What happens then? Your enthusiasm wanes. You find your French learning routine increasingly tedious.

So here’s our suggestion: think about why exactly you want to learn French. Keep a note of it and keep the note on you at all times. It will be your totem, something to look at whenever you’re not feeling French.

Not the greatest note-taker? 

If you create a Study Plan with Busuu, we’ll keep a note of your goal for you, plus send you reminders, depending on when you want to study, and for how long.

4. Use your French knowledge base

Maybe already started learning French before. Maybe you remember lessons from school. Or maybe you know more than you think you do, and already know English words that are French… 

This is what we’ll call your foundation. It can be the French months of the year, or, say, funny French words

Whatever your French roots may be, your pre-existing knowledge will form the pillars that will boost your skills and let your confidence in speaking French soar.

5. Bring French culture to you 

Sure, you say: I’d love nothing more than to immerse myself in French culture. But I live far from France, and nobody around me speaks it. 

Worry not: there’s still a lot you can do to surround yourself with the French language, wherever you are in the world.

Watch French cinema and TV

Diving into the Seventh Art and watching the odd French TV drama is one of the best ways to learn French away from your textbook.

And thanks to YouTube, Netflix and other streaming platforms, it’s easier than ever to access foreign media online.

Listen to French music

French music doesn’t always make it to English speaking countries. 

But you can still go the extra mile and find French songwriters, singers or artists whose lyrics will help you learn the language.

Keep on top of French news

Finding an article online from Le Monde or Le Figaro will likely pay dividends. 

Even if you feel like you have no idea what an article is about at first, picking up a few words or sentences in a dense French newspaper can really beneficial – and a real joy.

Listen to French podcasts

The podcast trend is a global one, and there’s an increasingly good range of French podcasts to choose from. It’s a great way to passively train your ear while you’re doing something else.

6. Practise with French speakers

Once again, you might think it’s impossible if there are no French speakers near you. But technology makes it easier than ever to do it online:

Do a language exchange

There are tons of them online (but offline options are obviously great, too). The idea is simple: find a French speaker who wants to learn English, and start chatting! You can arrange a session via Skype, WhatsApp or any other communication tool. You could also connect with French speakers in the Busuu community…

Use Busuu

Amongst fun, engaging lessons, quizzes and a host of smart tools, Busuu puts you in contact with French native speakers, who you will give real feedback on your grammar, pronunciation, and help you immerse yourself in conversations.

7. Don’t forget why you started

In our digital age, we have access to tons of ways to learn a language. 

Online tools, articles, resources, apps, methods, textbooks and others are all available in a few clicks or taps on our phones. Which is both amazing and overwhelming at the same time.

And while many French learners just starting out believe that multiplying learning methods increases their skillset, the exact opposite tends to be true: focusing on one method that works is better than juggling between a dozen that only half work.

8. Review, review, review

It’s important to keep going over what you know – as without revision, you won’t be able to retain enough to take your skills to the next level.

With Busuu, for instance, this understanding is fully embedded in the learning experience. And it makes it by letting you review through quizzes instead of boring questions.

9. Avoid being your own worst critic

Maybe you’re extremely gifted at language learning and will soon be able to pass as a native French speaker. But it’s more likely that your end goal should be to reach a decent level of conversation with natives.

Why the latter? Spoken language is about communication. And communication is never perfect. There’s a lot of looking for words, umming and ahhing, and struggling to express the right ideas. Even in your native language!

So why put so much pressure on a second language? Your French interlocutors will understand you’re learning the language. They will be more patient with your imperfections if you are too. And that will result in more confidence, and more fun. Which takes us to our last point…

10. Learning’s a journey – enjoy the climb!

Yes, learning French has tremendous benefits – a wider pool of potential connections, careers and a deeper cultural understanding. 

But it’s also something that takes time, dedication and effort. So while it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize, it’s just as primordial to remember to enjoy your path to fluency. 

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