Does learning French by yourself sound appealing?
Just think about it. No scheduled classes, no exams, no teachers. Just you and French, at your own pace.
At the same time, this idea might frighten you, because you’d have to rely on your own discipline. And, let’s face it. It is sometimes easier said than done.
Today, we’ll help you find the right way to learn French on your own and stay consistent.
A Guide to Learn French by Yourself
When learning a language by yourself, you’ll need a solid plan, a daily routine, a clear goal, and useful resources. Doing a little research beforehand will help you in the long run. By choosing the right resources and making a realistic plan, you are more likely to stick to it.
We all know, it’s easy to fall into the trap of jumping from one resource to another, especially when it becomes a bit difficult or boring.
The second thing is to make learning enjoyable, and easy enough to become part of your daily routine. According to the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, if you want to establish a new routine, you make your actions easy and pleasant so that when it’s time, you won’t procrastinate.
In order to accomplish your goal or learn French, James Clear recommends that you make the action visible, obvious, and tempting. What does this mean?
You can make an action visible by placing a French book in your sight rather than in a drawer, or by adding a reminder to your calendar.
Make your task as simple as reading a short paragraph or listening to a French song. If you know that learning French for two hours will make you nervous, don’t force yourself to do it.
Behind the Science of Learning
You opened up a grammar book and pretty much you have no clue what to learn first. You find yourself jumping from verbs to nouns, spending too much time on learning, but knowing too little at the end of the day.
We’ll help you get there with a minimum of effort.
Have you ever heard about the 80/20 rule?
The 80-20 rule, known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes for any given situation. In terms of French grammar, it means that learning 20% of French grammar covers 80 % of daily French communication. The same applies to vocabulary.
To cover 80% of French communication, you need to focus on the high-frequency words and phrases in French.
By covering the top 20% of any language, you’ll be able to participate in almost any social setting. In short, you can learn a new language without constantly memorizing or covering lessons you’ll never use. Sounds neat, right?
If you want to learn how the world’s most famous polyglots learn, make sure you check out this post.
Here, we offer you 5 tips to learn French grammar effectively and not excessively.
1. Make Verbs Your Friends
Learning French is easier if you learn verbs the right way from the beginning. When you learn verbs by yourself, first make yourself acquainted with the French verb system.
Understand how it works, distinguish regular and irregular verbs, and start with a couple of regular verbs, to understand the pattern.
Even with irregular verbs, there is always a certain logic behind conjugation.
Since there are only three kinds of verb endings, once you know them, you’ll be able to determine approximately what conjugation pattern to use.
It will take a little while to learn some of the most common irregular verb endings, though there aren’t many of them. The majority of verbs will behave the same way once you know their endings.
There are over 20 French tenses. Luckily, you don’t need all of them. To be able to get by in daily conversations, first, you’ll need Present Simple, Futur, and Past Simple to start with.
After you’ve mastered those 3 tenses, you can nuance your expression by adding two very simple tenses, Passé Recent and Future Proche. They both have a simple formula and are frequently used in daily conversations.
As you know, there are so many French verbs that if you start with an idea to learn all of them, you could spend a tremendous amount of time learning present simple only. Stop, right there. We recommend you create a list of the most used French verbs and learn only those, in different tenses. As you progress, you can easily expand the list.
2. Make Your Own Vocabulary List
Think about the vocabulary you frequently use and create your own list. What topics are you interested in, what would be the daily topics you use. To make things more fun, you can even create flashcards. To practice vocabulary, you can use online flashcards, like this one.
3. Enjoy French Music
Music has the talent to easily become memorable. If you get caught by the rhythm, you’ll end up with lyrics running in your head all day long.
The first thing you need to do is discover French-language music genres that you enjoy. You can always find a French version of whatever you like to listen to.
The point with music is that it doesn’t necessarily seem like hard study. You can either run it in the background, or you can approach it thoroughly and translate all the lyrics. Even if you decide to just listen, you’ll soon be able to recognize words that repeat. Listening to French music is a good way to balance out the bookwork.
Check out this YouTube list of French music with lyrics.
4. French Movie a Week
Listening to music can even be more challenging than watching movies. The thing is, no matter how bad your French is, you can understand at least 30 % by simply watching the scenes.
French cinematography is rich, and you won’t have to search for long to find your best choice. Checking out the Best French Movies to Learn French, is a good start. Learning French through movies is made to be enjoyable.
5. Find an Online Language Course
Even if you don’t have a teacher, you can still sign up for some online French courses. The great thing about them is that you are somehow guided, and all courses follow a certain logic.
This kind, of course, brings you the structure to your learning and relieves the pressure from finding new content every day. Because, you get everything at one place, at least for a certain period of time.
Nowadays, there are so many online courses, both free and paid. Some of them you can even find on Youtube, and last from 2h-8hours. You can always pause, and continue the next day with learning.
Online courses are especially good when it comes to learning French, because French pronunciation is a tricky part, and you should get exposed as often as you can.
Useful Resources for Learning French By Yourself
The following are a few great blogs for learning French on your own:
Learn French Live 24/7 here.
Listen to daily conversations on different topics on Super Easy French.
Learn French with stories, on French Experiment.
Get French lessons for free, on TV5 Monde.
Get free French lessons on BBC Ma France.
Being Your Own Teacher
The good thing about learning a language by yourself is that you get to choose the content you learn, the pace you go, and let’s face it. No exam is so far definitely the best part.
On the other side, not having a teacher can get you into the situation of skipping your daily learning or procrastinating.
Learning French by yourself is possible if your goal is powerful enough to keep you focused. Think of the reason why you want to learn French, and get back to it frequently to reaffirm your motivation.