Learn French in Two Weeks
The most frequent question I get on Facebook is “how long does it take to learn French?” “How long does it take to become fluent in French?”
Many sites out there claim they’ll teach you French in X amount of time.
I say it’s “foutaises” (bullshit – pardon my French).
How long would it take you to train to run 5 miles ?
Maybe you’re in top shape 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.
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 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.
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 is 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…
Learn French Fast
Back to the regular student. A good idea to start in French is to memorize useful sentences by heart.
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. Practicing the same thing over and over until we don’t have to struggle as much. It takes time. And it takes energy and determination.
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)
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.
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.
- French verb conjugations, which mean a clear explanation of when to use the different French tenses, and many, many examples to develop a feeling for them.
- French vocabulary, including traditional vocabulary and common modern slang.
- Provide a way to develop your confidence and actually speak out-loud in French, whatever your level may be.
It’s serious stuff. It takes years of expertise to become a 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.