Interesting facts about learning French: basics of pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar – and tips on how and where you can learn the language most effectively.

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For a short trip to Paris, for business negotiations or just out of interest – there are many reasons to learn French. French is not only a national language in some of our neighboring countries, but a world language with which you can get ahead on all continents. We present various options and reveal which mistakes you should avoid as a beginner.

Learn French easily online with the language learning app Babbel

The following methods and tips make learning the French language easier, but it remains a time-consuming challenge. Nowadays there are many ways to learn a new foreign language. In the past, adults learned a new language mainly at adult education centers or in stationary courses offered by private education providers. Disadvantages: The learners have to stick to a rigid course schedule and a fixed learning pace.

A contemporary possibility are (web) apps such as those from the market leader Babbel. The internet browser and smartphone apps serve as the learning interface, interaction is very important and playful elements the motivation above. Babbel also offers the option of exchanging ideas with other learners – including an online matching option for language tandem partners.

You can try out the language learning app completely free of charge and without obligation, the first lessons in each learning language are free. If you get a taste for it, the premium version can be activated for a fair 5.99 euros per month.

  • Try Babbel for free

French in the world

Over 270 million people worldwide speak French, of which around 80 million are native speakers. French is not only spoken in France, but also in many other countries around the world. In Europe, these include Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. But French is also an official language in parts of the Caribbean, North America and Africa.

Depending on the country and region, there are big differences in how French is spoken there. In France itself you can distinguish between dialects and the language directions “Langues d’oïl” in the north and “Langues d’oc” in the south.

The differences between the various countries are even greater. French-speaking Canadians often use different terms than French, and there are also grammatical differences in their colloquial language. In some Caribbean countries, French-based independent languages ​​such as Haitian have also developed.

German-French history is also diverse and changeable. Many areas in the border region have changed their national affiliation more often in recent centuries, such as Saarland and Alsace. Since the end of the Second World War, both sides have been making great efforts to achieve close and friendly cooperation between Germany and France, which has manifested itself in many joint projects in recent decades.

For example, the Franco-German fplusd initiative launched in 2002 is a bilingual portal that provides information about the language, culture and work in the respective neighboring country. Furthermore, fplusd provided support in learning German and French. Not without reason: the ability to communicate verbally is undoubtedly a central component of international understanding.

Specials of the French language

Just like Italian and Spanish, French is a Romance language. However, the language has some peculiarities that you need to be aware of when learning French. Learning requires a lot of patience and motivation. At the beginning you should deal intensively with the grammatical basics and the pronunciation. Vocabulary is also very important for you to be able to have a conversation. Here’s what you need to know about French pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar and listening comprehension:

French pronunciation

French pronunciation is very fluent and melodious and differs from German in many aspects. You often miss endings, and an “h” at the beginning of a word is never pronounced. The most striking difference and particularly characteristic of French are the nasal vowels “on”, “an”, “en”, “in “ and “un”: For correct pronunciation, lower your palate and expel the air through your nose and mouth at the same time as you speak.

In French there are also so-called diacritics. These are accents that are placed on a letter and signal a specific pronunciation. This includes the “accent aigu”. This is a line running from the bottom left to the top right, as in the word “café”. This accent indicates a closed pronunciation of the vowel.

The counterpart to this is the “accent grave”. This is a line running from top left to bottom right, as in the word “chère”. You pronounce the “è” briefly, similar to the “ä” in German. There is also the “accent circonflexe”. This is a roof as in the word “hôtel”. This accent has little pronunciation importance. In written language, it indicates differences between similar-sounding words or signals that an “s” is omitted compared to the Old French version of the word.

French vocabulary

Since French is a Romance language, many words are similar to Latin, Spanish or Italian< /span>. If you already speak one of these languages, you have a clear advantage. You can then derive and remember French vocabulary much more easily.

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In French, unlike in German, there are only two articles, namely “la” (feminine) and “le” ( male). It is best to learn them together with each respective noun. While there are rules of thumb (for example, that nouns with feminine articles often end with an “e”), there are also enough exceptions. Some terms that have a feminine article in German are used in French with a masculine article (example: the sun = le soleil) and vice versa (example: the shoe = la chaussure). So you can’t always rely on your intuition.

The French use a few Anglicisms. But there are a few, especially in the digital area (examples: Internet, e-mail, and so on). In contrast, in the French-speaking part of Canada, English word references are widespread (examples: cancel = “canceller” instead of “annuler”, work = “job” instead of “travail”).

Learning French numbers is a special challenge. In some cases, they are formed quite differently than in German. A few sound like little multiplication and addition problems. For example, “eighty” means “quatre-vingts,” which literally means “four twenties,” and “ninety-nine” means “quatre-vingt-dix-neuf,” which roughly translates to “four(-times) twenty , ten (plus) nine”. You can find tips for learning vocabulary here.

French grammar

In order to master French grammar as quickly as possible, you need good time management. In French, you usually build a sentence in the order subject – verb – object. If you have questions, rearrange the sentence accordingly. However, there is also the option to leave the word order the same and to indicate the question solely with emphasis or the question mark at the end of the sentence.

Using the tenses works in most cases like in German. When an action is complete, you use the perfect tense, which corresponds to the French “passé composé”. There are also tenses that are used only in the written form.

Although the conjugation of verbs often follows a rule, there are also many important irregular verbs (e.g. “être” (which means “to be” in German) or “avoir” (which means on German means “to have”. You have to memorize the tenses and conjugations of these verbs like vocabulary.

listening comprehension

If you want to have a conversation in French, you must of course be able to understand your conversation partner. Otherwise misunderstandings will quickly arise and your communication will fail.

It will take some time before your listening comprehension is no longer a problem. You first have to recognize the individual sounds and translate the words at the same time. Intonation and rhythm also play a crucial role in understanding whole sentences.

Another challenge with listening comprehension is that there is no opportunity to repeat content. So you have to know some vocabulary in advance so that you can success in listening comprehension. There is no time to look something up. Tips for learning can be found here.

French for Beginners: Opportunities to Learn

How best to learn French is decided by you alone. There are a variety of ways to do this. First, think about how much budget you have available and how much time you want to invest. Especially if you plan to live in France for a longer period of time, it makes sense to learn some basic knowledge of the language in advance. You have the following options for learning French:

Language trips

Language travel is a fun and efficient way to learn French. In addition to the daily lessons, you have direct contact with native speakers in your free time. With everyday shopping or in the café around the corner, you will get to know French and the local culture. This trains your listening comprehension. You can learn important everyday vocabulary very quickly.

You have many more opportunities to speak French on a language trip than in Germany. You can also see the practical use of French for you. You can clarify questions about the language and customs with your teacher in the next lesson at the language school.

A cost-effective alternative to a language trip is a stay abroad as part of a FSJs. If you want to orientate yourself after graduating from school and at the same time improve your language skills, a voluntary social year in France is a very good idea. Meanwhile, you get an insight into the work in a social institution, get to know the work processes and develop yourself personally. An FSJ always makes a good CV.

Language course at universities and academies

Most universities and academies offer free or discounted French courses for their students. Of course, you can also start studying French right away. Then you will not only get to know the language, but also the culture and literature of France. The course content and exams are determined by the exam regulations.

You can also study French as a distance study. This type of study offers you independence in terms of space and time. You learn at your own pace and have so much less stress than with face-to-face studies. You only need to be present in person for a few exams.

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Universities often allow external participants to attend language courses for a small fee. The course is similar to the courses at a VHS. The language course lasts one semester and is taught by lecturers from the university. Tip: Since these courses are very popular and the number of participants is very limited, especially for external participants, it is best to find out about the offer well in advance.

Also onprivate language academiesthere is an extensive range. If you take a French course there, you will receive a language certificate at the end. You can decide for yourself how many courses you take at the academy before you take the exam.

Learn French online

There are numerous platforms that offer online courses for learning French. If you do not have enough time for a course at a language school or would like to learn on your own first, this method is particularly suitable.

Another advantage of online learning is that you can organize your time freely. However, you need a good portion of self-discipline, otherwise your project is doomed to failure. So write yourself a to-do list that you gradually work through. Then you won’t forget any of your learning units.

Many publishers offer holistic courses that include explanations and exercises in grammar, writing, listening and reading comprehension. Most of these courses are paid, but in some cases there are free trial periods or trials available. It’s best to try them out first and then decide whether you like the concept of the course or not.

Learn French with an app

You can also learn successfully and effectively with an app on your smartphone or tablet. Many offers are free and are perfect when you need to save money. With an app you are very flexible when learning and always practice when you have the time and inclination. So you can use the time effectively while waiting for your bus or a friend.

To expand your French vocabulary, vocabulary trainer apps are a very good option. In small units, you can use it to conveniently learn vocabulary on the go. Some apps also correct your pronunciation using a recording of your voice.

Regardless of whether they are paid or not, most apps will remind you of your next exercise session with notifications. You should definitely activate this function, otherwise you might forget to do your tasks next time.

Just like the online courses, this learning method also requires a lot of perseverance and self-discipline. Schedule five to ten minutes of practice every day if you want to success quickly. Click here for the test report of the language learning app Babbel.

Learn French for free

If you start at zero, you will find numerous free offers on the Internet, such as apps, learning portals, dictionaries and so on. Most of these offers are particularly practice-oriented and teach sentences and vocabulary relevant to everyday life in small exercises instead of concentrating on the step-by-step teaching of grammar, for example.

If you want to learn French in depth and in depth, you should consider spending some money. For advanced users, the free offer is much more limited.

Learn French in your free time

You can also do a lot in your free time to improve your knowledge of French. There are many creative ways that will bring you closer to the language. Learning is most fun when you combine it with activities you love to do anyway. Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:

Read French newspapers

You can practice your reading comprehension with the help of French daily and weekly newspapers. If you can’t get hold of a printed version, you can simply access the extensive online offering that all well-known newspapers have. When you read, you not only learn the language, but also find out about news from all over the world.

It is particularly interesting that you get the French view of things and can perhaps understand it better. Read different articles regularly and keep a dictionary handy. Then you can look up unfamiliar vocabulary directly.

Search for tandem partner

A very popular language learning method is the tandem partner program. This option is particularly useful if you need to save money. Ask at a university or a cultural center whether tandem partners can be found there. Alternatively, you can search for suitable groups on social networks.

In order for the method to be successful, you need some basic knowledge of the French language. You should no longer be the total beginner. You will be introduced to a native French speaker and will meet up with him regularly from then on. You can do whatever you want, for example eat cake, go hiking or play billiards. It is important that you choose an activity that you both enjoy.

Watch french films

There are a lot of good French films out there. Why not choose one of them at the next movie night and watch it in its original language. If you have just started learning French, select German subtitles. Then there are no problems of understanding. If you are already more advanced, French subtitles are suitable. You can see in direct comparison how certain words are spelled and pronounced. It’s also worth watching a film twice if you didn’t understand everything the first time.

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Typical beginner-mistakes when learning French

Learning French is not always easy. In the beginning you will always make mistakes. This is completely normal and not bad at all. Just like any other language, you need to know some vocabulary and grammar before you can have a conversation. But there are a few typical mistakes that beginners make when learning French. Make sure you avoid these, then learning will be even easier for you. You should avoid the following things when learning French:

Pronounce all letters

In French, many more letters are written than spoken. There are some that you don’t even hear when you speak. You often hardly hear consonants at the end of a word. “Kater” means “chat” in French, but the word is spoken without the letter “t” at the end.

Only when there is an “e” at the end do you hear the consonant, like in the word “cat”, which translates to “chatte”. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule that you have to memorize. Tips for better learning can be found here.

fall for fake friends

There are some words in French that sound similar to words in German. Sometimes this is very useful, because you can easily remember new vocabulary. But there are also so-called“false friends”. These are words that sound very similar in the mother tongue and the foreign language, but have completely different meanings. These include, for example:

Baiser (pastry) – baiser (meaning: kiss)
Foil – foil (meaning madness)
Kostüm – costum (meaning: suit)

Learn French easily online with the language learning app Babbel

The following methods and tips make learning the French language easier, but it remains a time-consuming challenge. Nowadays there are many ways to learn a new foreign language. In the past, adults learned a new language mainly at adult education centers or in stationary courses offered by private education providers. Disadvantages: The learners have to stick to a rigid course schedule and a fixed learning pace.

A contemporary possibility are (web) apps such as those from the market leader Babbel. The internet browser and smartphone apps serve as the learning interface, interaction is very important and playful elements the motivation above. Babbel also offers the option of exchanging ideas with other learners – including an online matching option for language tandem partners.

You can try out the language learning app completely free of charge and without obligation, in every learning language the first lessons are free. If you get a taste for it, the premium version can be activated for a fair 5.99 euros per month.

  • Try Babbel for free

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