i need to learn french but i dont know where to begin.

Ben   Friday, October 29, 2004, 14:28 GMT
I used to study it in high school but that was like ages ago. Right now i know nothing about french language. I dont even know where to start. Any of you great people have any advice for me? It took me several years to study english; in fact, i ve always studied it all my life but only did in the past few years that i put a lot of effort and spent many hours each day practicing and watching movies.

I m not sure if its the same for French because once i began to take english seriously i knew i already i learned some basic rules of the language that makes it an easy start. But if u have to study a language thats not familiar to you and which you know nothing about, how many years will it take?
Toasté   Friday, October 29, 2004, 15:01 GMT
It depends a bit on your mother language. If it's already part of the Romance family then learning French could be a relatively quick process.

The fact that you have already learned a second language is usually a good sign that you can pick up other ones. It's hard to generalize, but third, fourth and fifth languages are generally much easier to pick up because your mind has already been broken from having to strictly adhere to the language rules of your mother tongue.

You are also already aware of the existence of different tenses. Surprisingly, most unilingual speakers use the various tenses of their language without actually being aware of what they are or why they use them. So that's an advantage for you.

Your knowledge of English will both help and hurt you in your study of French. It will help because there is a lot of word similarity, some aspects of sentence construction are the same, and some popular expressions can directly translate over. English and French are sufficiently different, however, that you will be confused sometimes.

The best way to start is exactly the way you did it with English... with reading newspapers and listening to radio broadcasts (with a dictionary close by). Start off with the basic verbs, then build your general vocabulary and move out from there.

If you can't get French language radio in your country (and you have a bit of money), I would suggest subscribing to a service like Champs Elysees


They produce a monthly radio-like broadcast focusing on French politics, culture and language. It comes with a full transcript so you can read along with the broadcast, and includes a full vocabulary, and explanations of tricky verbs, etc.

I used the German equivalent "Schau ins Land" when I started learning German and I found it really helped me. They also produce Spanish and Italian versions.

Good Luck.
Nat   Wednesday, November 03, 2004, 21:45 GMT
Ben, I have the same problem as yours but in Spanish! What I'm doing is learn each evening a little of grammar. The most important is the main verbs (To have = avoir ; To be = être, etc...). After, you can learn every tenses. You must also learn how to introduce yourself "My name is Ben = Je m'appelle Ben ; I'm ... years old = J'ai ... ans, etc...) And learn more and more vocabulary!

Then, you can try to read some easy articles on newspapers (Maybe you can buy, in a bookshop, some little journals which are in French and in your own tongue, made to learn a foreign language!) My advices are to read a lot in French and watch movies in French... and, also, if you can, come in France or in a country where the language is French.

To be able to speak French, I think it's depend on your regularity and how you learn, the methods you want to use, etc...

Hope it helps ;)
Nat   Thursday, November 04, 2004, 18:45 GMT
To 569 :
I'm French and I learn English and Spanish. I learn those two languages because I love them. I love to travel in UK or Spain (even if I can't very much because I'm a student). I also love the cultures and the civilisation of the UK and Spain. For me, it's a pleasure to learn them.
You seem to think that the love for a language or a country is not important but I think you're wrong. If you don't like what you learn, you cannot succeed (or not totally)!

If Ben wants to learn French, he does what he wants! If it's his wish! It's not because a country is rich that people have to learn their language, otherwise, nobody would want to learn the language of poor countries. There are also some people who enjoy learning Latin or dialects. I think it's a great thing if they are happy to do this.

Ben, good luck for your learning. It would be probably hard sometimes but if you really want it, you'll succeed ;)
569   Thursday, November 04, 2004, 19:30 GMT
Nat you seem so... well, how old are you and why are you so interested in english language? you french hate the Us
569   Thursday, November 04, 2004, 19:45 GMT
french language is somewhat artificial, it has been constructed by Jean Jaque Rousseaux and the others from the Academie Francoise before the great Revolution. I read that in some linguistic study from the Orlando University years ago. Before that the French used to speak gaulish loke modern scotch. About the gaulish people i watched a program on fox news very well made.
Nat   Thursday, November 04, 2004, 21:36 GMT
To 569 :

I don't see the reason why you want to know my age... and the reasons why I'm so interested by English language (and it's not the only one) are because I find that old tongue beautiful, because I like people and I don't jugde anybody, and especially not on their nationality. The nationality doesn't characterize a person. The personality, yes!
I'm very interested in the traditions of the others countries and everybody's thoughts. There are still a lot of reasons why I love English language but I can't name all of them.
And for your information, the French don't hate the US. The French hate the US government. That's totally different!

I don't know who wrote the linguistic study that you've read in Orlando University but, obviously, he or she didn't know what he/she was talking about. French language is also an old and beautiful tongue, like a lot of other language. I hope you'll learn a little more about it and not judge too fast ;)


PS : I apologize to have been a little off-topic. Ben, if you have some other questions, I'll be glad to answer to them.
El Frances   Friday, November 05, 2004, 11:01 GMT

I think you should review your knowledge of history, the reason is simple. French couldn’t speak gaullish in the past because French did not exist. There was not 1 gaul but many gauls, some part were in the actual France and some other parts were in the actual Italy.

About the fact French is artificial, it is, that’s true, English is artificial too.

I feel sick to see so many ignorance in only 1 brain.
Easterner   Friday, November 05, 2004, 11:45 GMT
>>About the fact French is artificial, it is, that’s true, English is artificial too.<<

Of course French is not artificial, one should turn to Esperanto or Klingon for an artificial language. But my observation, also connected to this topic, is that French formal usage seems to be much stiffer ("corseted" is the word somebody used in this forum) than the colloquial spoken language, down to significant differences in syntax (e.g. formal "Ou' est-ce que vous allez?" vs. colloquial "Vous allez ou'?", meaning "Where are you going?"). So the usage which is the best to learn is the educated but relatively informal style of newspapers and some TV programmes.

One thing that has worked for me in learning spoken French was that the French channel TV5 broadcasts French films with French subtitles. Sometimes the subtitles differ from what is actually said, but not significantly (they seem to avoid usage that is "too informal"). This is an advantage because spoken French is often difficult to understand for an average foreigner (due to relatively fast speech and contractions).
el frances   Friday, November 05, 2004, 12:39 GMT
Easterner :

formal "Ou' est-ce que vous allez?" vs. colloquial "Vous allez ou'?",

About formal, you can say "Ou allez vous?"
nic   Friday, November 05, 2004, 12:44 GMT
French are not gaulish, they are french, that's all and there is no common point. If you think the french are gaulish, you forget they have been romanized, that's why we say gallo-roman.

If you say french are gaulish, who are you talking about? Auvergnats no latin
provençaux no latin
bretons celtic
flamnands no to germanised
alsaciens no to germanised
basques no because basques
languedociens no latin

, vendéens,
Easterner   Friday, November 05, 2004, 16:05 GMT
El Frances,

Now I think of it, you are right. I did not give the best example. "Ou'est-ce que" is convenient for introducing longer clauses, as in: "Ou' est-ce que je peux acheter ce modele?". In shorter questions inversion works just as well, as in "Ou' allez-vous?".
Ben   Friday, November 05, 2004, 16:34 GMT
Thanks for all da replies.....But hey this is just for the love of the language..nothing more....history has nothing to do with my passion, so whoever you are..Mr/Ms 569....since u already made a fool of urself i'd say no more.

Ive been listening to the tapes and reading along from the book i rented frlom the library..Now i can remember a few simple sentences like ' Par le vous francais? and Enchante....ANyway...these are just only a few....very little..in the first week..but no one here in my country speaks french with me ( i'm Thai by the way) and i'm thinking maybe i could just talk to myself...i dont know it would work..but i guess its how every one learns to speak a language when they re alone right?

Nat, i would love to hear from you again!!
Nat   Friday, November 05, 2004, 21:04 GMT
If you have nobody around to speak French with you, I think that it's a good idea to train aloud alone. For a long time, I have nobody to speak Englsih with, so I do that too. But what really improve my English is books! I've read a lot of texts in English. I have also a phonetic dictionary which still helps me.

Just a little correction for your sentences : It's correct to say "Parlez-vous Français ?" and "Enchanté!"

I'm happy if my advices helped you and feel free to ask other questions again ;)
Endie   Saturday, November 06, 2004, 19:43 GMT
You know, Ben, I have a similar problem with French. I used to learn it in university but haven't ever used it since graduation. Sometimes I watch some French TV though and somehow understand what they speak about and that's it. English has practically washed off the former prevalence of Francais. It's beautiful but hardly ever used as means for international communication. I doubt you'll be using it often in the future as I believe you hadn't used it much in the past since you forgot it :). That's reality!