There is no magic formula, or secret shortcuts, to learn how to speak French with ease. Achieving fluency requires energy, commitment, patience, and above all, motivation.
However, there are techniques that will help you learn French more effectively.
Investing the time needed to learn any language is essential, but all your effort will be to no avail if you don’t practice. In particular, conversing in French with native-speakers. Spending time expanding your vocabulary and being able to conjugate all the tenses correctly will not be all that helpful if you don’t have a chance to use these skills with locals.
Here are some practical tips if you want to know how to speak French with ease.
Learn by Immersion
The objective of the immersion method is to learn much the same way children do when they acquire a language: via constant exposure to native speakers all day long and, generally speaking, absorbing the language without a lot of explanation. This method is likely the most efficient of all.
If you have the opportunity to spend some time in a French-speaking country, I strongly recommend, if you are an adult, the option to stay at the French teacher’s home. You will receive personalized tuition tailored to your level and ability. Throughout your stay, the emphasis will be on communication and you will have the opportunity to speak.
Learn at a French Language school
If you prefer the option of taking French lessons as part of a group, there are many French learning schools in Paris and throughout France. Programs and rates differ from school to school. I recommend choosing a school that limits the size of groups to 10-12 participants. Smaller classes are better, but, in some of the smaller schools, students at varying levels are often grouped together. In particular, when there are not enough students. My advice is to make sure from the very first session that you are learning with students at a similar level to your own.
Conversely, in some of the more well-known or larger schools, the classes are very large. Consider the level of personal attention and how much you would learn in a room of 25 people versus a group of 6 people.
Learn with a French Tutor
One of the most efficient ways to learn how to speak French with ease is to hire a French tutor. Although the interaction in a classroom might be beneficial for some students, if the class is too large, or has people of different levels (which happens quite often), one-on-one lessons are sometimes more efficient.
Some people prefer an individual approach. Learning with a tutor allows for more interactivity and your speaking skills will be challenged more often than if you learn in a group. If you are looking for more opportunities to speak French on a daily basis, personalized lessons with a French teacher might be the right option for you. French à La Carte offer flexible French lessons in Paris at your home, place of business, or immersed in the life of the city.
Learn with Audio Books
Another effective method suitable for self-learners is online French lessons. A good audio method will teach you vocabulary and grammar, ideally in context, and, of course, pronunciation. But, keep in mind that spoken French and written French are like two different languages. French Today offers lessons to master French as it is spoken today with 120+ hours of French audio lessons and audio books for all levels, from beginners to upper intermediate. It’s a fun way to learn. These methods involve a lot of work, which is why they are usually more expensive.
Learn at a Language Exchange
If you’re visiting Paris and just want to meet some people and improve your conversation skills, you might consider doing a language exchange. It’s very cheap and usually helps you gain confidence while speaking.
Franglish is an innovative language exchange event in Paris that helps native English and French speakers to meet and learn from one another. The aim is to practice a foreign language and make friends in a warm and friendly environment. Their standard format of one-to-one conversations lasts 15 minutes, half in French, half in English, and gives you the chance to practice your conversation skills with multiple native speakers.
Learn French during Conversation Tours in Paris
Even when you learn French in a classroom or by yourself online, it’s not always easy to find opportunities to converse with native speakers (especially Parisians, who tend to immediately answer in English!). Speaking French can be intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner or at an intermediate level. This is why French à La Carte has created French conversation tours in Paris for all those who prefer to learn outside a classroom.
If you’re learning French in Paris, discovering the city while conversing with a French teacher during a pastry and chocolate tour, or other themed lessons, can be an enjoyable and efficient way to improve your skills: understanding, speaking, and accuracy. Even beginners can benefit from experiencing the life of a Parisian, just for a few hours.
Practice Your French, Again and Again
If you want to learn how to speak French with ease, as mentioned earlier, there is no magic formula: the best approach is simply to converse as much as you can with native speakers. Try not to freeze or panic while speaking… and, above all, avoid the temptation to revert to English!
Many students interact easily with their tutor. But, when it comes to speaking with locals in everyday situations, they suddenly freeze, becoming nervous and finding themselves unable to carry on the conversation in French. My first piece of advice is that making mistakes while speaking is not a big deal! Be aware that not only will locals not judge you, but that they might also even be grateful you’ve made an effort to speak their language.
Have Fun While Learning French
It is now scientifically proven: research has shown Gamification and meaningful learning should take place in a stress-free environment (Chugani, 1998).
In order to optimize the process, the learning experience should be enjoyable and directly related to your personal interests. Krashen (1982), for example, notes that students are more likely to memorize newly learned information when the content is associated with strong positive emotions.