One of the very first questions I’m asked when I tell anyone that I’m moving to Paris for three months - is ‘Oh, that’s so exciting, do you know how to speak French”. The simple and honest answer is that I speak a very small amount of French, a bare minimum that will allow me to get by - but that hasn’t at all stopped me from learning as much as possible of this beautiful Romance langue before I leave for Paris in under two weeks. It’s daunting when trying to learn something new, and especially a new language where you’re so scared about making a mistake. But thankfully there really are so many incredible resources, apps and books out there (which I have shared below) that will allow you to teach yourself French. Or any language you wish to learn. Learning a new language really is a challenge, especially when you grew up in a country that doesn’t have the need to know another language. Every time I have been in Europe, or any other country where English isn’t the spoken language I always feel like I’m missing out on knowing more about the country I’m in because I can’t speak the langue.
When I decided to move to Paris last year, I made a real effort to start learning the language. Because, I don’t just want to simply ‘get by’ in Paris, I want to be able to talk to locals, read and understand French books and cookbooks and simply know what it’s like to be able to speak two languages. Plus, there is something really exciting about teaching yourself something new and the addictive thrill you get when you finally understand something that you’ve been studying for a while is just wonderful. I’m not at all fluent, yet, but the passion that I have to learn this beautiful language and in turn the culture it belongs too really has helped me make sure that I find the time each day to learn as much as possible. And of course the most exciting part is that in less than two weeks I will be back in Paris will able to practice my French daily - this is still something that I never ever thought would come true, and I of course can’t wait to share it with you here. Take a peek below for my tips on teaching yourself French, or any language you wish to learn. x
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Along with reading almost anything written about Paris or France at the moment. I have also been reading phrase books, The Lonely Planet French Phrase and Penguin French Phrase books are two of my favourites, that I have also been carrying with me constantly at the moment. I have also just finished a Benny Lewis’s wonderful book called Fluent in 3 Months - his book and website are full of so many tips and tricks for teaching yourself a new language. He has a simple idea, and one that has worked for him in many countries around the world - it’s to simply speak the language, even if you know very little, because naturally more you speak it, the more you’ll learn.
Duolingo, Babbel and Fast Talk by Lonely Planet are three of my favourites for learning the basics and how to start and maintain conversations. I also use another app called Flashcards+ by Chegg, it’s a wonderful and simple to use flashcard app that you’re able to download flashcard sets that other people have created - it’s such a fun and simple way to practice words and phrases that you’re wanting to learn.
Stolen moments are those moments where you’re waiting - waiting for a coffee, someone you’re meeting, waiting for the kettle to boil, etc. These are your stolen moments, even if you’re only able to find 10min to practice your chosen language each day, you’ll quickly find that even these small stolen moments of time will really help.
Follow bloggers/Instagram accounts
Possibly my favourite way to practice French is to follow Parisian and French Instagram accounts - mostly because it’s real, day to day French, plus it’s also the area that I work in. So it would be silly not to learn French through social media somehow. Have a peek at who I follow on Instagram to see my favourite French and Parisian accounts.
Classes and Workshops
I would have love to have had the time to attend a few language classes - but in a way after reading Fluent in 3 months, I can also see the benefit that comes from teaching yourself. I don’t think that there is a ‘right’ way to learn something that you’re passionate in, but I of course understand the merit of learning in a class and with others. Maybe I’ll get the change to attend a class while in Paris.
Of course, I’d absolutely love to hear of any tips and tricks that you have for learning another language. xo