Learning French as a 2nd language. How I see it.

Tutor no longer registered
French (general) By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: French » French (general)
Last updated: 27/05/2017
Tags: acquire language, french verbs, listening skills, speaking, tenses

As far as I'm concerned, verbs and tenses are the core to French language learning. I say this because they underpin the whole language. Obviously, the rote learning method is old-fashioned and out-of-date, although I don't see that everything old fashioned has no value. Nonetheless, today there are more interesting ways of memorising French verb conjugations. The starting point has to be choosing the most useful tenses and most common verbs. These would be the present tense, the imperfect and the perfect tenses. It is important to get to grips with these and master them before moving on to other tenses. Students should get used to using them in context and learning them with the aid of an audio source so that the liaisons and elisions are heard. 

Secondly, speaking and listening skills are key. I believe learning a language needs to be related to how a baby acquires language. The way the brain is wired, babies listen to language for quite a long time before they start to try and speak it. So, listening comes before speaking. Then a child progresses to the first grade of school where they learn phonemes and reading. Reading is done with comprehension because they've already heard it and said it. I think learning French should imitate this pattern in order for the learner to be successful.

Once these skills are on their way to being developed, the focus can turn to writing. I think the written aspect is too over-emphasised. Students should have some understanding of how language works so that writing becomes easier. So basically the language is divided into three areas. The first is verbs and tenses, the second is grammar rules - how you learn and apply them so you don't anglicise everything and obviously learning idioms.  Thirdly, vocabulary which is learnt in chunks and in context. It's also learnt using the skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing and taking into account one's experiences.

In conclusion, I would say that language is learnt best when it is learnt naturally, not in some artificial way where you've got to sit and learn 10-15 words a day - very boring and quite meaningless.

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