Being multilingual will always be a huge advantage that can get people ahead in many aspects: career, social life, family and perhaps even relationships.
When you’re thinking about learning a new language like French, it’s normal to wonder how long it will take you to learn it. We gathered some tips on how to learn faster. First, a few questions to ask yourself:
How motivated are you? Have you already learned other languages in the past? How much time can you dedicate to learn French weekly? Which level of French would you like to reach?
Learn French and you will finally be one step closer to the Eiffel Tower, your long-time dream destination.
So, here are some important things you need to know, as you learn what the rest of the world calls the language of love.
How long does it take to learn French?
How long does it take to learn French? This is the first question that comes to your mind when you decide to learn any new language. There is a lot of factors to take into consideration to be able to help answering this question.
Have you already learned other languages (such as Italian and Spanish) in the past?
Aside from your own native language, it is also an edge to have learned any language in the past, because you could use that experience as a guide in this journey. As a bilingual or multilingual person, you can make use of a new language to broaden your vocabulary. One may compare and contrast how certain words are used from one language to another. This can sharpen all languages that you know so far. Hence, you are not just learning one new language alone but also refreshing your learnings with the other languages that you already learnt (such as Italian and Spanish).
Have you previously learned French in the past?
If you had previously learned French in the past then you may have some bits of knowledge on certain words, and how they are pronounced. This may help prepare you to know what to expect in learning the basics. If not then, you could always start from the basics like everybody else. In learning new things it is always safe to start from scratch to avoid small mistakes, and in learning, one always needs to start somewhere easy and slowly, but surely, make it challenging.
The time you dedicate to learning a new language
In learning a new language, it is not a wasted effort nor a waste of time. The time one dedicates to learning any new thing and even a new language, benefits our brain. It extends to develop our intelligence, memory factor and concentration on things. This also lowers our risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as it is a proportional effort of exercising our brains mentally. Hence, not only does it keep our memory sharp but it also help our brain in fighting aging.
Your attitude & Motivation for Learning French
Anyone that would want to embark on this journey should pack the necessary motivation first because stopping in the middle would really be a waste of effort. Hence, one needs to focus on one’s personal take on this. So when one reaches the point of losing hope and wanting to throw everything away, one could always look back to this one simple yet encouraging stand. It could be because of planning to tour the streets France on your own, learn new recettes and bask yourself in as many goodies from the French cuisine as you want. Or you even want to enjoy and understand the artistic historical things and places in France. With setting your own reason for motivation then you can start learning any new language, especially French, the language of love.
Gaps in between classes
As one learns French, one gets to higher and higher stages, one may get stuck in the beginning and may not immediately move on to the next stage. The best thing to do is to focus and not compare oneself with how fast one’s classmates and peers are in the class. As one should not see learning as a competition, one would be able to appreciate every little learnings one would encounter as it would be helpful in the following stages. One needs to appreciate the usefulness and importance of how the stages are designed from the alphabet to words, words to vocabulary, and from vocabulary to grammar. Hence, there is purpose to the each stages that must not be skipped in a hurry.
For instance, to practice writing French might not be so doable on your first two days, but don’t worry. You’ll get there. Trust the process.
Ways to Learn French faster
A great way to start learning French faster is to practice what one has learned.
One of the many ways to do it is to watch French movies and Netflix series that use simple French. You may prefer cartoons or series created for kids.
Another way would be to challenge yourself in learning simple everyday phrases in French, or fully immerse yourself in a French speaking country.
Common European Framework for Languages is a useful tool we could use when talking about various levels in language learning French. This guideline breaks language proficiency into six levels, namely: Beginner (A1), Elementary (A2), Intermediate (B1), Upper Intermediate (B2), Advanced (C1), and Full Level Proficiency (C2). If you are considering being fluent in French while able to catch up with conversations at an average rate without hesitation or pausing too much, then you are steering towards B2 or C1 levels.
What’s my level in French?
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) is a tool developed by the Council of Europe to define the mastery of a foreign language like French, according to different criteria. Since 2001, this is a reference in the field of learning and teaching French.
Beginner – A1
Can recognise and use familiar words and simple phrases for concrete purposes. Can introduce himself or someone else. Can ask and answer basic questions about home, family, surroundings, etc. Can communicate in a basic way when the other person speaks slowly and clearly, and is ready to repeat or reformulate to help communication.
Elementary – A2
Can understand isolated phrases and common expressions that relate to areas of high personal relevance (like personal or family information, shopping, immediate environment, work). Can communicate during easy or habitual tasks requiring a basic and direct information exchange on familiar subjects. Using simple words, can describe his or her surroundings and communicate immediate needs.
Intermediate – B1
Can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar subjects in work, school, leisure activities, etc. Can manage in most situations that come up when travelling in a region where the language is spoken. Can produce a simple and cohesive text on familiar subjects or subjects of personal interest. Can narrate an event, an experience or a dream; describe a desire or goal, and outline reasons or explanations behind a project or idea.
Upper Intermediate – B2
Can understand the main ideas of concrete or abstract topics in a complex text, including a technical article in the user’s area of expertise. Can communicate with a degree of spontaneity and fluency during a conversation with a native speaker, in a way that is comfortable for everyone. Can speak in a clear, detailed way on a number of subjects; express an opinion on current affairs, giving the advantages and disadvantages of the various options.
Advanced – C1
Can understand a wide range of long and complex texts, including any subtextual or stylistic nuances. Can express him or herself freely and fluidly, without obviously fumbling for words. Can use the language effectively and fluently in a social, professional or academic context. Can speak in a clear, organised way about complex subjects, developing a well-structured argument.
Master or Proficient – C2
Can effortlessly understand almost everything he or she reads or hears. Capable of a coherent summary of events or arguments from oral or written sources. Can express him or herself precisely in a spontaneous, fluent way, conveying finer shades of meaning precisely.
What is the estimated time to reach each level?
All that being said, you might say that it is just the way that Coldplay song goes: “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard…” Along the way, in that long journey of yours as a French learner, there will be times when you’ll have to take a rest. But the key is always to pick up where you left off and continue learning. Sure, there might still be a few mistakes here and there, but you’ll find that the beauty of any language lies in its use.
So, in the end, the question is not really how long it takes before you can actively engage in French conversation. The question is how badly do you want to be able to do it. And when you can answer this, the next logical step would be to simply begin. Enjoy!