5 Months To Learn French

Why should you learn a second language? Well, for one thing, being bilingual can literally change your brain. Bilinguals do better with “executive control” and “conflict tasks”. Basically your super cool! Basically, this is your brain on bilingual…

If you’re not bilingual, don’t worry. Learning a language is something we were biologically born to do! How do I know this? Well, I’m assuming no one taught you as child how to move your mouth and tongue to say the letter “A”. As children, we spend years forming the muscles and making the connections we need as our brains develop. As an adult, those connections are mostly set, which makes us less malleable, but if you’re forming words and not pooping your pants anymore, there’s hope. We’re going to follow Gabriel Wyner’s 4 stages with some minor additions that have helped me through the years. Flash cards are going to be a big part of this, and I highly recommend Tiny Cards. You can create your own cards, or search through some of the already existing ones.

Let’s begin by taking a relatively simple language. There is information on language fluency ranking, if you want to take a look at what you should tackle first. This is also great to see the level of difficulty you’re getting yourself into. I don’t want anyone coming to me saying “Stefanie, you said it would take 5 months, and I’m still not fluent in Arabic!”. But I digress. Oh. What’s that you say? You read the list and you want to learn French? Parfait! (No. Not the yogurt).

STAGE 1 (1–3 WEEKS)

This first stage consists of learning sounds and spelling. You need to train your ears to hear nuances in a language. One great example of this was research that was done to train Japanese students to hear the difference between “Rock” and “Lock”. Essentially you listen, say which one you think it is, and get immediate feedback on whether you heard it correctly or not.

HEARING NEW SOUNDS

  • Podcasts! That’s right. One of my favorites for beginners is FrenchPod101. They have a great podcast to help you learn pronunciation and vocabulary.
  • Duolingo and Tiny Cards

PRONOUNCING NEW SOUNDS

  • Once your ears know what to listen for, pronouncing becomes much easier.
  • As you pronounce, think about what these words feel and sound like in your mouth.

SPELL NEW SOUNDS

  • This is where the Duolingo and flash cards come in handy. You’re putting a visual element to the pronunciation and sounds.

STAGE 2 (1–2 MONTHS)

Learn 625 basic words. When you learn these words you’re reinforcing the sound and spelling foundation, and you’re learning to think in a different language! Since Tiny Cards lets you create flash cards, head over to google images and create flash cards of these words. The experience of researching, and choosing the images will deepen your ability to memorize.

STAGE 3 (2–3 MONTHS)

Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes. Grammar! Grammar is a mechanism to tell stories. It tells you who is doing what and how the speaker feels. Grammar adds words, changes words, and orders words. It also shows you how certain words fit together or look. For example, how does “by” or “on top of” look like? And when do you learn to do this in English? As a child. Children’s books glue together simple sentences.

STAGE 4 (3 MONTHS — BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO STOP THERE!)

From here on out it’s fun with French!

READING

No More of the baby stuff! At this point find a book that you’ve read before and enjoy.

  • Read a summary of the book in French while looking up words you don’t understand and make flash cards.
  • Get an audiobook of the book you chose (both in French) and listen along as you read. Don’t stop to look things up! It’s ok if you don’t understand everything.

LISTENING

  • Here’s a chance to get more advanced with your podcast selections. My favorites are Français Authentique and Easy French Poetry. They also come with transcripts if you want to follow along.
  • TV shows. Not movies. Why not movies? Because movies are short and you usually don’t understand what’s going on until the end. TV shows have a common thread and once you start understanding what’s happening 2 or 3 episodes in, you still have 10 more!

SPEAKING

The more you speak the more you learn! At RemoteLingo, this is what we’re good at! Speaking reinforces and uses all that stuff you just spent the last few months learning. Fluency only happens when you try to say something.

  • This is the part where you walk down the street giving strangers high fives and showing off your French! Or you can find a meetup or group.
  • If you’re interested in a more in depth experience learn more about RemoteLingo!
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