Learning to speak French is a dream shared by many. It conjures romantic images of walking along the Seine, discussing art and culture, then having a glass of wine at a street cafe in Montmartre. However, there are plenty of other reasons why it’s beneficial to speak French fluently. First of all, French is an official language in over 29 countries around the world, many of them in Africa, and there are 263 million people worldwide who speak French as either a first or second language. Think of all the potential conversations you’re missing out on by not speaking French!
Secondly, France has the world’s 6th strongest economy, and is the home of 31 Fortune 500 companies. It’s also the location of some of the world’s top schools and universities. In fact, the ESSEC Business School is one of the most respected business schools in the world. So, there are a lot of opportunities for people who speak French to live, work or study in France.
Of course, speaking French will also come in handy if you just plan on visiting the country. After all, France is the number one tourist destination in the world with over 84.7 million visitors in 2013. There are 37 UNESCO world heritage sites in France such as the incredible Mont-Saint-Michel, the castle on an island, and fabulous medieval Palace of Fontainebleau. Since only 39% of French people speak English, being able to understand the language will help you get the most out of your trip, and connect with the local culture. Plus, you never know who you might end up speaking to.
There are over 75 million native speakers - 263 million including non-native speakers.
There are 29 countries where French is an official language.
It’s one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.
There are 31 Fortune 500 companies in France.
France has the 6th highest GDP in the world - 3rd in Europe.
France is the most popular tourist destination in the world - 84.7 million tourists in 2013.
France has 37 Cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites & 3 Natural Heritage Sites.
Only 39% of French people speak English.
Despite its confusing pronunciation and different grammatical structure, French is actually considered one of the easierlanguages for English speakers to learn. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% of English words share roots with their French counterparts, and there are thousands of cognates, or words that sound the same and have the same meaning in both languages (However, there are several false cognates that you have to be careful of as well!). In fact, you can probably understand the meaning on a lot of French words just by looking at them:
Learning French is even easier if you’ve already learned another Romance language such as Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian since they all share common Latin roots. Conversely, speaking French can be a great way to get a jump start on learning additional Romance languages as well.
There are a variety of ways you can choose to learn to speak French, and thanks to the Internet, a lot of them are even free.
This is the most traditional way to learn a foreign language, and it’s very likely that you’ve tried this method already in high school or university. It can be a good way to mix all 4 aspects of language learning (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in one setting. However, many people find that it to be too tedious and too much of a time commitment to fit into their already busy schedules.
Similar to a classroom, this is an excellent way to get to know another language. You can learn directly from a native French speaker, and practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening to French the way it’s actually used. This one-on-one interaction is ideal to master the language in the shortest amount of time. However, private lessons can be quite expensive with a qualified language teacher. One good option is to pair up with someone trying to learn your language, and help each other - Tandem style.
One method which was popular before the advent of the Internet was to self-teach via audio, video, and books. This can be an effective method granted you have the willpower to stick with it. However, it lacks the social interaction which might be the whole point of learning a new language, and you’ll most likely only learn “textbook” French, not the way French speakers naturally speak.
Computer software can be a very effective method of learning French. Many programs try to mimic natural learning methods which teach you to associate the language directly with the places, things, and situations in which they apply instead of having to filter your new language through your native language via translation. However, this also lacks a certain level of social interaction which makes language learning more fun and exciting.
This is by far the best way to truly master a new language. However, unless you already have the basics of the language under your belt, you may find yourself a bit lost. It’s also one of the more expensive ways to learn a new language, and not everyone has the time or the resources to spend extended periods of time in another country.
There are a huge number of websites which promise to teach you to learn French online, and a lot of them are even free (or quite reasonably priced). This is probably one of the best ways to “dip your toe” into learning a new language if you’re still deciding if it’s something you wish to pursue. However, more advanced language learners might become frustrated with the slow pace, and elementary level material covered in much of these online courses.
One of the biggest revolutions in online language learning is the availability of apps which allow you to log in and connect with language learners and teachers around the world. With this, you can practice French wherever and whenever the mood strikes. It can be a fun, easy way to learn conversational French, the way it’s actually spoken.
The Tandem app is the best way to learn French online for free. With millions of members, Tandem is one of the largest language learning communities out there! With the Tandem app, you can connect with native French speakers all over the world and practice by speaking via text, audio message, and video call. Master French now and download the app!
Private lessons more your thing?
With Tandem Tutors, you can master the French language even quicker. Our Tutors are certified professionals who offer one-on-one lessons anytime, anywhere. With Tandem Tutors, it’s easy to find someone who matches your style and works around your schedule. Your language learning journey begins today — Get started now!