Can you start speaking French from day one

Can YOU really start speaking French from day ONE?

Can you start speaking French from day one

Can YOU really start speaking French from day ONE? What do you think? Is it too good to be true? What can be accomplished in ONE class, in one or two hours?

I’m always intrigued by these claims from different programs and courses about teaching a language in couple of days or that you can do it without learning any grammar, or without writing anything…

I think it all depends on what we call “Speaking French”. If it is a basic conversation in a restaurant while ordering food in French or asking for directions when you are lost on the streets of Paris, then my opinion is absolutely yes.

If you don’t expect having a heated discussion about politics or environment issues in French from day one:) then YES, you CAN speak French from Day ONE. Very basic French, granted… but still.

You should have very realistic expectations, as to truly master a language and speak, as a native, it requires more time than just couple of days, I hope everyone realizes it. And also it is necessary to have at least some exposure to the cultural / social aspects of the language you are learning, ex visit or even live in the country etc. (Read here about Top 10 French gestures)

But let’s go back to the “dream coming true” idea and see what we can do in ONE class! In fact, a lot.

You will be able to make sentences in French with selected vocabulary before the end of the first hour of practicing, I promise.

The TRICK is to start with something very simple and at the same time something that has plenty of options to play with. My absolute favorite is French regular –ER verbs and I show you in a minute how to do use them.

Another TRICK is to use as many COGNATES as possible; I bet that you don’t even realize how much French you already know! You will be surprised. Croissant, pizza, champagne, golf, tennis and hundreds and hundreds of other words that sound same or very similar in English and French.

Check out this collection of “French and English Cognates” of more than 8,800 words which are similar in French and English

And yet one more TRICK is to expand your vocabulary strategically. Obviously, we cannot learn everything at once, so it is very important to prioritize. One of the ways to do it is to learn new words based on their frequency of use. Check out this Frequency Dictionary

From what I have seen in my classes, the most difficult part is actually for a student to accept the idea that it CAN be this EASY. When people start learning a new language, they almost expect it to be extremely hard and difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it can be super difficult … if you want to! But it can also be a much easier process if you decide to open your mind and just accept that some things can be very logical, straightforward, and yes, easy. Where is my favorite EASY button again?

You need to remember that in the beginning you should make very simple sentences, without trying to use any complex syntax structures as you might do in your native language. You will come to this at one point, but in the beginning, in order to gain some confidence and see the results ASAP, let’s start with simple things and build on them. You could even pretend that you are talking to your French teacher as you talk to a child:) It’s ok with me!

So the recipe for success is:

Very short sentences + Cognates = Speaking French from day ONE

And in order to jump into a conversation from day ONE, my absolute favorite is regular –ER verbs. Why? Because ALL regular –ER verbs in French will have exactly same endings. It’s THE fact. So, listen to this very carefully, if you learn how to use / conjugate just ONE verb, you will be able to apply exactly same logic to hundreds of regular verbs.

Don’t try to be too creative here:), just apply exactly same concept to ALL regular verbs and before you know you will be talking non-stop.

Example #1: regular French verb Parler = to speak

Step 1: Remove ER from verb “parler” and you will have only “parl” left (Parl-ER)
Step 2: Add the endings in bold INSTEAD of removed ER

Je parle             I speak
Tu parles         You speak
Il / elle parle      He / she speaks
Nous parlons   We speak
Nous parlez     You speak
Its parlent        They speak

Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 with another regular ER verb and Voilà!

Example #2: regular French verb Jouer – to play

Step 1: Remove ER from verb “jouer” and you will have only “jou” left (Jou-ER)
Step 2: Add the endings in bold INSTEAD of removed ER

Je joue           I play
Tu joues         You play
Il / elle joue   He / she plays
Nous jouons       We play
Nous jouez         You play
Ils jouent          They play

Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 with another regular ER verb and Voilà!

Example #3: At this point it will become very boring 🙂 as we can go for another 200 pages and repeat same 2 steps again and again, it’s this simple! Instead, let’s add some substance to the sentences, let’s expand them and make them more meaningful and interesting.

Jouer =

to play

Au golf, au tennis, aux cartes
Du piano, de la guitare
Je joue au golf.
Tu joues du piano?

Habiter =

to live

Aux Etats Unis, en Floride, à West Palm Beach
Près de la / loin de la bibliothèque (near / far)
Près du / loin du parc
Près de l’/ loin de l’église (church)

J’habite à West Palm Beach.

Il habite loin de la bibliothèque.

Nous habitons en Floride.

Travailler =

to work

Lundi, mardi, mercredi, jeudi, vendredi, samedi, dimanche (Monday, Tuesday etc)Je travaille lundi.
Tu travailles dimanche?

Téléphoner =

to call

Tous les jours, souvent (every day, often)
A mon ami (e), à mon frère, à ma sœur (to my friend, brother, sister)

Elle téléphone souvent.

Je téléphone à mon frère.

Danser =

to dance

Bien / mal (well / not well)Je danse mal.
Ils dansent bien!

Cuisiner =

to cook

Pour des amis, pour ma famille (for friends, my family)Nous cuisinons pour des amis.

Chanter =

to sing

Sous la douche, dans ma voiture
(in the shower, in my car)
Je chante sous la douche.
Ecouter = to listenLa musique, les nouvelles, un livre audio
(musique, news, audio book)
J’ecoute un livre audio.

Regarder =

to watch

La télé, le sport, les nouvelles, des films
(TV, sports, news, movies)
Il regarde des films italiens.

Préparer =

to prepare

Une salade, une soupe, un diner, un déjeuner, un petit-déjeuner
(salad, soup, diner, lunch, breakfast)
Tu prepares une salade?
Vous préparez un petit-déjeuner.

Chercher =

to look for, search

Les clefs, l’hôtel, le restaurant, la tour Eiffel
(keys, hotel, restaurant, Eiffel tower)
Je cherche les clefs!
Vous cherchez le restaurant XYZ?

Aimer =

to like, love

Le chocolat, le vin, le fromage
+ infinitif, ex j’aime cuisiner
J’aime le chocolat !!!!!
J’aime danser.

*** Please notice that if a verb begins with a vowel or “h” then, we will have a small change for “je” form, example : J’aime (instead of Je aime), j’habite (instead of Je habite). Why??? Because it’s French! And it must sound beautifully!!!

*** Also, there are some minor changes that happen in stem of some regular verbs when you conjugate them, but this will be another discussion, for another lesson and it’s not a major change anyway.

And if all above fails:( then just watch this video and apply their advices:) or you can send me an email with your sentences with some Regular ER Verbs to make sure you are doing it right, I will be happy to help: nk@multilingualsociety.org

Have an amazing day!
Natacha

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