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10 Common Mistakes People Make While Learning French

Are you learning French right now and looking for every possible way to avoid the same error over and over again? Look no further, we have got you covered!

The most important thing to begin with is to set your goals right. When you are determined to learn the French language, it is imperative that you follow the steps to reach your goals and sound like native French speakers.

Often while learning French, students make many mistakes. Making mistakes shows that you are learning something new. Nevertheless, you must always learn to correct your mistakes and remember to not repeat them.

Any time you get corrected for using a wrong word, mispronouncing words or making errors in grammar, you must take that criticism positively and improve. A constructive criticism helps you sharpen your skills and be better every day.

Check out the top 10 mistakes that a French learner makes

1. Not using the right French words

Learning French vocabulary can be difficult, especially when you are just starting out. With all the nasal pronunciation, ‘e’ muet and silent letters, it genuinely is a task to memorize difficult words. Don’t lose hope and learn simple words to make your learning process easier. Challenge yourself every day and learn the words with synonyms and in sentences. In order to possess a solid grip on the language, you must learn the correct words and apply it at the proper place. By choosing the right words, the listener understands the context and the emphasis of that word. A robust vocabulary is a powerful way to establish your career around a language. Acquiring knowledge of a large vocabulary helps you to navigate your thoughts and express your ideas more precisely.

2. Avoid speaking French in day to day life

I know how intimidating it is to speak a foreign language. When you are just starting out, it is even more difficult to construct a proper sentence. In fear of sounding wrong or speaking a grammatically incorrect sentence, a student skips speaking altogether. I say it is a gross mistake to not even attempt speaking the language, even when you are only at the beginners’ level. For example, when you are at level 1 of learning the French language, remember to always greet, bid goodbye or ask simple questions in French. Slowly start asking questions in French and giving simple replies. As you progress, start reading difficult topics and engage conversations on the same subject. Join some local French meetup groups and participate in workshops. Even in this pandemic situation, there are many virtual meetups to join.

3. Not reading French newspapers

It is always beneficial to read aloud. It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you practice reading French documents aloud if possible every day. Having said that, reading a French newspaper gives you a treasure of information. Not only can you stay updated with the current affairs, but it also allows you to understand different sentence structures, how to present an argument, different tones of a text and learning new words. Apart from reading newspapers, storytelling is also an interesting method to develop your speaking skills. There are many abridged versions of French classic novels available, such as Le rouge et le noir or Madame Bovary. Or you can cut short and read only the summaries of the famous French literary novels or analyses of French text. Reading such different topics will enrich your language skills and set you apart from regular learners. These texts will give you a better knowledge of the French culture, life and traditions through the centuries.

4. Paying less attention to the French grammar

Okay! So grammar is fun if you learn it properly. I know many of you are shaking your head right now while reading this sentence. But trust me, grammar can be fun when you learn the basics properly. Grammar matters because without a proper grammatical rule, your sentence will make no sense. The subject has to agree with the right verb conjugation as well as adjective and noun agreement. Since every word in French has a gender, it is important that you learn the masculine, feminine and the plural version of adjectives and nouns. You can also create a fun writing assignments for yourself. For example, I have this fun activity where I ask my young learners to create their own imaginary animal. So, after learning the animal names in French and their body parts, I created this writing and drawing activity where they draw their imaginary animal and explain it. Maybe your fictional animal has a cow’s head, lion’s mane, zebra’s body with elephant’s legs and finally a sheep’s tail. This activity is fun and makes everyone laugh.

 

One more activity you can try while learning French grammar is to teach grammar concepts to your friends. One friend can learn a topic and teach it to everyone in the group. Like this you can try a group learning project and go on perfecting your French grammar.

5. Practicing fewer tests

The tests serve as an important role in the learning process. Taking language tests helps you understand your level and also to evaluate your performance at the end of the course. Taking regular tests helps you to stay motivated and improve your language skills. Appropriate and constructive feedback from the teachers help in reducing the anxiety and build confidence.

6. Mistaking between Cognates and Faux-amis

French cognates and faux-amis can be both a curse and a boon. The French cognates make learning easier. There are many words in French which are spelled exactly the same in English, and they mean the same.

For example :

 

English word

 

French word

 

acceleration

 

l’accélération

 

action

 

action

 

addiction

 

addiction

 

ambition

 

ambition

 

Check out more examples here.

Faux-amis is the worst enemy of a French learner. For instance, when you read the word “travailler” your brain will be tempted to translate it to travel, but the word looks very close to travel. Unfortunately, travailler doesn’t mean travel, in fact it means to work.

For example :

French word

 

English word

 

Actuel – current, present

 

Actual – réel, exact

 

Agenda – diary

 

Agenda – ordre du jour (de réunion)

 

Allure – pace, speed; appearance; style

 

Allure – attrait, charme

 

Avertissement – warning

 

Advertisement – publicité

 

Like that, glance over some examples here.

Read both examples and memorize the correct meaning to avoid confusion.

7. Not benefiting from websites offering French courses

At this present day, the internet gives you a plethora of options to learn a foreign language. There are many private French tutors who provide courses globally. I recommend that you enrol in one of the courses with a native teacher and learn the French language perfectly from the beginning.

8. It is never too late to use Mnemonic and image

There are a ton of interactive, interesting and engaging methods to learn French language. Mnemonic a system such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations which assist in remembering something. I bet you all have come across this mnemonic technique to learn Passé Composé : DR. & MRS. VANDERTRAMP

Explanation: This mnemonic technique is used to remember which verbs in French take “être” as an auxiliary.

Never forget the power of associating words with images. It is the optimal technique to remember and learn words. You can either put sticky notes on every household item in your house or print out images and learn the words with the correct articles. The more you visualize the images, the clearer it sits in your head. This method will help you recall the words easily.

9. Not giving enough credits to yourself

Words are the currency of communication. If you are putting in the time and effort to learn the language, give yourself enough credit for that. Whether you are a student, a working individual, a mom, if you have decided to learn French from your busy schedule, then applaud yourself and keep working till you sound just like a French native. Learning any language is not easy. It takes courage and consistent efforts to be champions of the French language. Celebrate every milestone and continue moving forward.

10. Being afraid of your accent

Having an accent means that you are brave! You challenged yourself to learn a foreign language. The link between learning a new language and IQ is undeniable. The more you practice speaking the French language, the more confident you will be. At times, it is possible to get rid of your native language accent while speaking French, but in many languages that have hard sounds it becomes very difficult to get rid of that accent. I say that you must not worry about your local accent and keep it as a barrier and not put your 100% to learn the language. With practice, slowly you will also learn the right French accent.

In conclusion, I suggest that you avoid these 10 mistakes while learning French and make the most of using different methods to be better every day.

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About Dylane

Dylane is the owner & founder of “The perfect French with Dylane”, a YouTube channel and website where she teaches students from all around the world all the aspects of the French language.

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