How I’m Learning French this Year

Hello, again!


One of my goals for 2016 is to become fluent in French. With 4 years of French study under my belt, I assumed this goal would be easy to achieve in a year’s time, and I’m incredibly determined. In the past month, I’ve researched numerous ways to practice my French, and I thought I’d list them for you because these techniques are proving fantastic to brush up on the language, and I think they’d also work spectacularly for people who want to learn French or any other language!

1. Duolingo

– I discovered this website (and their app) sometime mid-last year, and I spent about a month doing nothing but practicing my French. It’s an amazing resource for learning languages, and I was immediately intrigued with the idea that I could test out of certain sections. It combines reading, writing, and comprehension to quickly move you through the basics of the language before working towards conversational phrases. I love that the app gives you the option to speak into your microphone, because actually speaking the language in the accent is the most important part of using practical French!


2. 365 Days of French Expressions

– In my research, I discovered this book by Frederic Bibard, which shows an example of a French expression for every day of the year. It’s a delightful insight to French idioms and phrases, and I’ve learned a lot so far about the quirky differences between French and English expressions. I would, however, not suggest this book for new French learners, as some of the verb conjugations could be confusing for a new speaker.

3. Reading French Literature

– I’ve added “reading a book in French” to my list of goals for 2016 because I honestly believe it will help me in comprehending the language and how it works. Even reading and deciphering individual sentences using context clues can really strengthen someone’s fluency. I’m going to start with a book I know and love, so I don’t have a difficult time understanding plot points. I’ll start with Harry Potter or The Hobbit and work my way up to the classics like Les Miserables and Le comte de Monte Cristo. I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

4. Watching French films

– Listening to the beautiful language when paired with English subtitles is a fantastic way of learning any language. I remember watching numerous films in high school, some of my favorite being Les Choristes and of course, Chocolat. While I’m watching, I like to pause and repeat sentences just as they said them. Besides, foreign films give you incredible insight into the culture of these native speakers.

5. Local Meetups

– As I mentioned before, speaking the language is half the struggle of becoming fluent in a language. Having studied French, I can easily comprehend words I’m reading, and I’m decent at conjugating my verbs, but I need to gain some serious confidence in the conversational aspect of the language. I had this idea to speak to a native French speaker, to meet up and discuss the weather or attempt to use the language from a practical, yet casual standpoint. One of my coworkers is dating a Lebanese guy who grew up and studied in French schools his entire life! I was so overjoyed at the idea to speak with him, that when I asked her to hook us up, she informed me he ran a local French club where people could sit in and carry on casual conversation because he didn’t want to lose the language while living in America. Excited by this prospect, I googled local meet ups in Portland, and was immediately prompted to a few websites, including, where people post regularly scheduled meetups! I now am incredibly looking forward to meeting up and speaking French with other passionate individuals because it will undoubtedly help in meeting my goals of fluency. 

I hope this list was helpful to you all, and I highly encourage you to go out and become fluent in languages of your own! I will keep you updated on the process, and hopefully this time next year, I’ll be on my way to France, confident in my use of the beautiful language!

What are languages you’ve always wanted to become fluent in? What tricks did you use to learn the languages you know? Let me know in the comments below!


-Amanda Jean

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