Learn French in 2 weeks. 10 Secrets to Learn French Easily. Fast French learning Method. Effortless French Learning. What’s the catch?
Students starting French often ask me: “how long to learn French ?” “How many hours should I study French per day?” “What’s the fastest way to learn French?”.
These questions make sense, especially with so many websites now claiming “Learn French in X weeks/months”. But you really need to be smart about these promises… If it’s too good to be true, then it’s likely to be clickbait!!
First, let’s go over the numbers official organizations give us on the time it takes to learn French.
1 – It Takes 550 Hours to Learn French
If you search the web, the answer is unanimous : it takes about 500 to 600 hours of class time to become conversant in French.
- A study by the US Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute shows that it took adult native English speakers 600 classroom hours to learn French at an intermediate level.
- The American Council of Teaching Foreign Language (ACTFL) agrees with these numbers: 500-600 hours of studying with a teacher to speak French at a high intermediate level.
- Cambridge Press released a paper on language acquisition. It says it takes 530 to 750 hours of French study time to reach a high intermediate level. How precise (LOL)
- The Common European Framework for Reference for Languages (CEFRL), says it takes 500 to 600 hours of learning French to reach a high intermediate level (B2). 1000-2000 to become fluent (C2).
2 – How Long Does it Really Take To Learn French?
These numbers state the average time it took a student to finish a French class level. But it doesn’t answer these questions:
- The student finished the class, OK. Did s/he pass the official test also? Or did s/he just take the class and was handed a “completion of class diploma” ?
- Did s/he understand the class or just automatically move to the next level after paying for it?
- How can these organizations account for the personal studying time?
Here I’ll direct you to another article I wrote about the big language schools scam and what I think of the official tests…
I went to live in Spain for four months when I was in my twenties. I studied Spanish with a large & famous school in Madrid. I was top of my class, supposedly achieved a C1 level. Even aced the official test. That didn’t make me fluent in Spanish… I meant I was really prepared for that test, I knew Spanish grammar and verbs really well. But speaking in everyday life and understanding what people said was another story! Here you may want to take my free French quiz to test your modern French level – warning, it’s audio-based… not your typical test!!
20 Questions to REALLY test your modern French comprehension. All audio-based with full explanations. Completely free, no signup required.
If you are really wondering how long it takes to learn French, I’d like to make a comparison:
How long would it take you to train to run 5 miles ?
Maybe you’re really sportive and could just hit the track right now. Maybe you’d do it within a couple of weeks, a couple of months… or a couple of years.
However, most of us cannot just watch a technical video of how to run, or read a list of tips on how to become a good runner, and just go ahead and run 5 miles.
It takes practice, and it’s likely to take time and effort.
Furthermore, would running 5 miles make you a “good runner”? Would it make you “proficient” in running??
Maybe a sports coach upon watching you run, testing you, may be able to tell you how long it would take you – personally – to train before you are able to run 5 miles easily.
But you can’t just ask that to a random person, or get your answer from a web search.
Learning French is no different.
3 – Fastest Method To Learn French
We are not all made the same way.
- Some of us know several languages: learning another one is going to be easier.
- If you understand English grammar well, learning French will be easier.
- A lot of musicians seem to have a talent for mimicking the sound of foreign languages.
- Younger folks tend to have a better memory.
- People who are disciplined and ready to study regularly will have a better chance at mastering French.
- Some people are like sponges: learning comes easily to them.
However, out of the hundreds of students I taught, my experience is that the majority of people will need years to learn French, and often never really be satisfied by the level they reached – and that’s part of the problem!
4 – An Amazing French Learning Experience
I actually had a student who learned French in three months. He spent about 14 hours self-studying per day (needless to say he didn’t work), took two hours of private French lessons with me five times a week, and he had an amazing memory. Furthermore, he was a math and coding genius. And a musician.
The way his brain worked was just very different: as a teacher, I knew the info I was giving him and therefore I could almost visualize how he sorted it and accessed it.
It was like he had large French flashcards in his brain, and had made connections between subjects that were likely to be used together. Like clothes vocabulary and colors for example.
He also did a ton of repetitions. He basically memorized my French audiobooks, and then had fun reproducing the dialogues but changing things around, like switching it to the past, or affirmative sentences into the negative…
At first he was slow. Right though, amazingly so, never forgetting a new word, but taking a bit of time to access it, to build his sentences. Hesitating about pronunciation, especially liaisons.
After two month, his level just took off: everything sort of came together for him: French had become like a code, and he had broken it. It was logical.
And then he absorbed a humongous quantity of vocabulary, expressions, verb conjugations. A super-human brain, really!
He worked mostly with audio. Was not interested in how things were spelled. “I want to speak French and understand people who speak it. I’m not interested in reading French” he used to say.
In my 20 years of teaching French, I only met one student like this one.
Chinese students are exceptional too in my experience. Their work ethic is simply superior. You ask them to prepare a chapter, thinking they’ll read it once or twice. But they arrive in class and have pretty much memorized the whole thing. I once asked my student how long she spent doing her French homework (one lesson per week). She said about 30 hours…
5 – Learn French Fast
Back to the regular student. A good idea to start in French is to memorize useful sentences by heart. Prioritise what you are going to actually use in everyday conversation.
Many programs claim: “learn 30 new words and sentences a day and you’ll cover most of French vocabulary in no time”.
It may be so. You may have “covered” it. But would you be able to remember all these words after… a week? Let along be able to use them in a conversation, nor deduct by yourself the grammar constructions that rules the sentences.
It certainly won’t work for me! I can’t just keep stuffing my brain with new info and hope to retain it all. It’s not how it works for the majority of us!
We learn through repetition. So practice the same thing over and over until you really get it. It takes time. And it takes energy and determination.
There’s a famous saying among musicians: “an amateur practices until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can’t get it wrong”.
6 – Learning French Easily
Learning French is fun! Learning French doesn’t have to be painful!
I beg to differ. It cannot be all fun. Unless you have an amazing memory, memorizing all these French verb forms for example is not going to be a walk in the park…
I know what I am talking about: I recorded hours upon hours of French verb drills to produce my audiobooks. And it wasn’t fun for me! I doubt the end result is super fun to work with!
However, I am positive my audiobooks are a great tool to learn French verb conjugations (4.89 out of 5 stars based on 370+ verified customer reviews)
7 – Fun French Learning Method
Of course, some part of learning French is going to be fun. Students who learn with my French learning audio method À Moi Paris say it is fun: the learning revolves around lively characters, and their story progresses through the audiobooks, getting more complex as your level of French increases.
Some French videos on YouTube are really well done, and provide a fun support to learn French. So do French songs, French movies, French blogs, French podcasts, the many French apps… There is so much to choose from nowadays!
This is particularly true when you study French vocabulary which can be presented in many different fun ways.
However, that doesn’t mean that there will be no serious work to be done.
Hence the importance of finding the right French tool to study with. If the method is all fun, and doesn’t have you drill on verb tenses, or tackle grammar concepts, chances are you will not become fluent in French.
It may be great to improve your vocabulary, or as a side studying material, but it’s likely you’ll get sucked in by the fun of it, get side-tracked, and end up wasting your time.
8 – What it Actually Takes To Learn French
To learn French, you need a plan. A serious study plan. A logical approach, which starts from the beginning and slowly but surely builds up on a strong and solid basis.
For French, this basis needs to take into account:
- French pronunciation, both modern and traditional – so learning French with audio is a must!
- French grammar, explained in a way you can actually understand. Many English speakers have not studied grammar in school, so the method shouldn’t expect them to know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, or what a direct object pronoun is. And don’t get me started on this method teaching French in French to beginners who don’t speak a word of French… The explanations need to be in your native language, and written especially for students of this language (i.e. a method especially written for English speakers and using English to explain French)
- French verb conjugations, which mean a clear explanation of when to use the different French tenses, a comparison with your native language, and many, many examples in French to develop a feeling for the French uses of the tenses and their conjugations.
- French vocabulary, including traditional vocabulary and common modern slang (by that I don’t mean vulgar slang but everyday expressions).
It’s serious stuff. It takes years of expertise to become a good French teacher, and a vision to become a French method writer.
This is why many students feel stuck in their French studies: with so many different French tools out there, they waltz from one video to the next, one free lesson to the next, but lack a logical and progressive approach.
At this stage, I will of course suggest you’d take a look at my audiobooks to learn French if you are not already familiar with them. I’ve poured my 20 years experience of teaching French to adults into this method, which will prepare you for both traditional and modern spoken French.
Now that you understand it is useless to ask “how long will it take to learn French”, I suggest you read this blog article: my twelve tips to learn French efficiently.
Let me warn you though there is no loophole – no secret magic pass. Just sound advice on how to direct your French studies.
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