Recent Posts

French Lessons

We want to try to learn the language as much as we can before we move to France. Paul took some French in High School but I don’t have any French experience though my Portuguese has already proved to be helpful. (Hooray for the romantic languages!) My brother-in-law is a linguist and and recommended Lingq. It is a free online course (They have paid versions also.) There is also an option to skype with native speakers. We’ve started out with the free beginning courses and so far I really like it. As you learn you can click on the words you don’t know and it adds it to a vocabulary list. As we progress we’ll probably get a tutor and try to learn more aggressively but for now this works really great.

Have you learned a language? Any tips?

photo from our Honeymoon in 2005.

  1. Nikki Jean

    July 19, 2010

    Rosetta Stone! I'm currently learning 3 languages (German, French & Dutch) using Rosetta Stone & it works really well!

  2. Cosette

    July 19, 2010

    I took French classes at the French Alliance. It's not free, but it's affordable, immersive, and the teachers are French.

    P.S. I'm so jealous you're moving to France!

  3. Anonymous

    July 19, 2010

    Do you drive? If so, listen/interact with conversation CDs in the car.

  4. Anonymous

    July 19, 2010

    I took 4 years of Spanish and landed in Madrid feeling absolutely confused. Submerged myself totally, not allowed to speak english at all when I got there. I didn't hang with the english speaking crowd until about 6 months in. Worked great. I could go to the market, buy clothes and get around the bus terminal without thinking twice. It is stressful but well worth the effort.

  5. MollsBalls

    July 19, 2010

    What exciting news! I am a bit dense when it comes to learning new languages and find it easiest when I am fully immersed/ in country.

    I do have a good friend that has learned multiple languages fluently and recommends laddering your languages. So, if you remember Portugese, try and learn French through Portugese instead of English. Supposedly it helps.

    Best of luck!

  6. Pihvi

    July 19, 2010

    Hi! I just read your post and I would like to reccomend
    I am Italian and I can speak French and English. I had great French and English teachers who really loved their job and that transmitted me the passion for those two foreign languages! I lived more than 1 year in US and I really think the best way to learn a language is to speak with a native speaker. Please let me know if you will find the above mentioned web site interesting 🙂 Greetings from Italy 🙂

  7. kirsten

    July 19, 2010

    my daughter has tried rosetta stone (meh) and mango languages (much better) for free through our county library website. she now loves 'my french coach' the game for her nintendo ds, which is suprisingly impressive.

  8. Seeker

    July 19, 2010

    In my opinion, Rosetta Stone is not very helpful and even the advanced levels are pretty shallow.

    What I have found more helpful are two things:

    1) Find a French movie (perhaps Amelie) and watch it a few times with English subtitles. Then, watch it over and over without subtitles.

    2) Think of a novel (preferably an "easy" read) you read in English very recently. Then find that book tranlated into French. I read Twilight in Spanish, and I cannot tell you how helpful that was. Do not read with a dictionary nearby. If you need to, read a chapter in English and then re-read in French, but resist the temptation to look up every word you don't know. Just force yourself to read the French. This is so, so helpful for getting a feel for grammar, and since you read the novel in your native language, you'll be surprised how much vocabulary you learn, even without looking things up.

  9. scissor variations

    July 19, 2010

    Conversational French would be a good place to begin (the Alliance Francaise offers different levels-writing, conversational, etc)

    I did a self immersion many, many years ago–I do remember many people wanted to speak English with me so that they could also ask people to only speak French to me (the corner store, the magazine kioske, the post office, etc)

    Also I was in an environment where there were children and I must say speaking/trying to speak/learn French with kids is easier–they are more forgiving. And while they will not necessarily correct you or your grammar, my experience has been that you will gain confidence to speak. I often find children speak slower too–that helped me.

    Perhaps there is a play group in your area where there may be other mothers who speak different languages and they may want to meet up?

    Perhaps post a notice to exchange French lessons for letterpress classes?

    Perhaps look for notices at the local library.

    …just a few suggestions.


  10. scissor variations

    July 19, 2010

    {just to correct a bit my earlier comment}

    I did a self immersion many, many years ago–I do remember when people found out I was English they wanted to speak with me only in my language so that they could improve their English. This of course defated what I was trying to do!

    I often asked people to only speak French to me (the corner store, the magazine kioske, the post office, etc)

  11. Kendra Goodrich

    July 19, 2010

    I studied spanish for a couple years before I lived in south america and I was still totally confused. But I immersed myself totally when I was there, no english speaking at all and I quickly figured things out. Do what you can now for the basics but when you get there make sure you make friends with natives and immerse yourself as soon as you can. It's frustratingly hard but totally worth it.

  12. Kendra Goodrich

    July 19, 2010

    I studied spanish for a couple years before I lived in south america and I was still totally confused. But I immersed myself totally when I was there, no english speaking at all and I quickly figured things out. Do what you can now for the basics but when you get there make sure you make friends with natives and immerse yourself as soon as you can. It's frustratingly hard but totally worth it.

  13. Blogful

    July 19, 2010

    Rosetta Stone is amazing and easy as pie. It's the program the military used to teach soldiers and now it's on the market for anyone. Kind of pricey, but check your library.

  14. Michemily

    July 19, 2010

    You mean romance languages? German is my language of choice. So much like English!

  15. Alex Waidley

    July 19, 2010

    I like, it's free and its great! It is like a social networking Rosetta stone

  16. Kathleen Frances

    July 19, 2010

    I think it's so cool that you're doing this. I'm assuming with all your posts about writing for sites that you are freelancing and that means you can basically work where ever you choose.

    I hope everything works out, it looks like it will!

    Can't wait to see all your posts from France in the future.

  17. Adalgisa Campos

    July 19, 2010

    oi Jordan.
    (já que seu português está bom, vou aproveitar – pois meu inglês é meio limitado).
    sempre recomendo a quem quer aprender francês a escutar France Culture, uma rádio pública com uma programação ótima (de radionovelas a documentários sonoros ótimos, passando por entrevistas, um jornal bem legal…).
    Eles têm programação acessível online em
    e podcasts.
    Ouvir rádio é sempre útil pra aprender uma língua. E esta é uma das melhores rádios que conheço.
    Boa sorte em sua jornada!

  18. Miss Cupcake

    July 19, 2010

    I highly recommend Pimsleur's cd for learning to speak. I speak French, Spanish and English and wanted to learn to speak Arabic and Farsi. Since neither of those languages are related to anything I already know, I sought out the cds. You listen to a 30 minute lesson a day and it's priceless! I love it. Buy them, put them on your mp3 player and listen/speak away. The language is useful and super easy. Also, I taught English in Ecuador (where I learned Spanish) and as a former teacher, I would tell you to learn the verbs and vocab. You'll get the grammar. Buy 501 French verbs and learn a couple every day. Same with a vocab book. Building a vocabulary is most important. The grammar will come (Like with children learning languages!) Watch movies too. I could go on and on. I love learning languages!

  19. Laura

    July 19, 2010

    I also used Pimsleur's CDs before I moved to Paris and they were super helpful.

  20. Grace

    July 19, 2010

    We are trying to learn french over here too. We've started with a little audio course for children and so far its great. I'd love to try this out too. The skype option sounds great.

  21. elventryst

    July 19, 2010

    I'm a fan of Pimsleur. You just listen to the cd for thirty minutes a day, and it'll have you well on your way.

    Pimsleur is quite expensive, but I have found that most libraries carry it, so you can always check it out from them.

    Good luck! France sounds like so much fun!

  22. Lost In Cheeseland

    July 19, 2010

    I live in Paris and am bilingual. I highly recommend for extremely inexpensive and extremely efficient online French language learning. I've been using it to learn Italian and it's like a much cheaper version of Rosetta Stone with advanced voice recognition technology to practice prononciation!

    If you have the discipline to practice yourself, I highly recommend it!

  23. TN

    July 19, 2010

    I live in Paris. We just moved about a month ago. My husband is French so I have taken classes (University setting) for 3 years prior to our marriage (been out of classes for 2 years).

    I can speak basic French. Grammar is the hard part for me.

    I am planning on taking courses at the Alliance Francaise here in Paris as soon as we are settled (we just moved into our apartment last week). I need to set up the baby at the Haute Gardeire (which is a daycare – which is more like a babysitter – by the hour).

    I would recommend you immerse yourself in French now as it will be a culture shock. If you are coming to Paris you will find a lot of people speak English.

    Let me know if you have questions.

    I have a blog I have been keeping since arriving check it out for some ideas. Right now it is mostly about our remodeling but I am going to add some info on living in Paris.

  24. Brandon and Rachel

    July 19, 2010

    I speak fluent Spanish and my husband is trying to learn. We set all kinds of goals and the most effective for us has been to speak only Spanish during dinner. It's been a good way to force ourselves to practice. bonne chance.

  25. Linz

    July 19, 2010

    I learned Korean. The best way to learn any language is to talk to people in that language. If you look up Meetup groups in your area, you might find one that is geared towards French…? Good luck!

  26. Linz

    July 19, 2010

    P.s. The best way to learn the language is to immerse yourselves into it… I don't know how long you have before you move to France (lucky you!!!), but really, you're going to learn the most once you move there. I heard the French are friendly as long as you attempt to speak to them in French, even if you mess up. It shows them you're not geocentric. 🙂

  27. sophie isabelle

    July 19, 2010

    my mother lived in spain for near on twenty years and when she went there she was 18 and by herself, no knowledge of the language what so ever.
    she learnt spanish through a typical verb and dictionary book and constantly speaking with the locals.
    now she speaks all dialects of the spanish language.
    i think maybe if you had someone who could constantly talk to you in french that would help? learning just by book/software alone, i find isn't enough.

    although, itunes have a good range for spanish/french learning podcasts. i'm trying to teach myself german using that (i have no one to teach me german.)

    if it helps – i use the same method as my mother as a general rule. a handy verb book, a dictionary, a notepad and pen plus a speaker of the language really helps.

    i hope this helps and doesn't confuse! good luck!

  28. Jihan Zencirli

    July 19, 2010

    i'll tutor you in french as long as you're willing to take me as your house elf when you move.

  29. beyond

    July 19, 2010

    i used rosetta stone for indonesian, but i would not recommend it. i used to tell my english students in switzerland to listen to the radio (very easy nowadays with the internet) and to watch tv. and don't forget audiobooks and podcasts!

  30. ashley

    July 20, 2010

    Just move to France.

  31. acw

    July 20, 2010

    i found buying french magazines was an indulgence well worth it. shows a playful use of language and its like a grown up picture book.

  32. bM

    July 20, 2010

    i saw some recommendations along this line, but before i went to study abroad in paris, i listened to familiar english movies with french dubbed over (available on many dvd's) while i worked in studio–this allowed me to already know the story and try and connect. also watching french movies–the more you hear the language, the better. it's amazing how much you absorb. i'm so jealous.

  33. o charm

    July 20, 2010

    we spent last summer and this summer in france. we also lived in paris for a little bit several years ago– and what i've found is that you can sit and study at home all day long and never really get anywhere, if the only time you use it is in the patisserie. you've got to (and i've got to!) figure out how to really USE it on a regular basis. whether it's clubs, or church groups or classes or even that tutor. . . you just don't get enough practice otherwise.

    i live in russia and have learned russian. one, i'm loving french because it's so dang easy compared to russian. but two, i have only really learned it by being forced to use it all the time.

    good luck to you in the adventures!

  34. drosophila_melanogaster

    July 20, 2010

    I moved to the US when i was ten and i hated English to be quite honest. The only thing that helped me was to translate music. I literally learned English by translating all of The Beatles music, and now i know every lyric by heart.

    I would love to learn French by listening and translating Edith Piaf. I adore her. Not only will you learn words but also phrases and you won't die of boredom! I would suggest the same for kids with children's movies or cartoons in French.

    PS- Can't wait to see posts from you from FRANCE! AND your husband's paintings are going to be so amazing… so jealous.

  35. Megan

    July 21, 2010

    I moved abroad cold turkey to Germany so I did a combo of immersion and traditional lessons at a local school. My best advice is to balance traditional classes (for grammar, and a basic foundation) with repeated consumption of movies, TV, books or audio books in French. The latter help enormously with the accent and for learning useful everyday phrases.

    And most of all, do not shy away from practice. Everyone sucks at the beginning so breathe deep and plow forward.

  36. D&D

    July 21, 2010

    put an ad on craigslist for a native speaker and go out for coffee once a week! conversations help the best!

  37. ana

    July 21, 2010

    I'm mexican but I speak English and German… I learned English at school and German in Austria. But before I went to Austria I had never study German before… When you get there, take French classes and the language will be easy to learn because you will hear it everywhere: The subway, the stores, the TV. 😉 Good Luck!

  38. Steve Kaufmann

    July 21, 2010

    Thanks for mentioning LingQ,Jordan. As someone who has learned 11 languages, including Russian, Portuguese, and am now studying Korean, all at LingQ, and all after the age of 55, I can assure you that language learning can be more fun and more effective than many people think. The Internet and the MP3 player have truly revolutionized language learning. Good luck to all.

    Steve Kaufmann

  39. Steve Kaufmann

    July 21, 2010

    I should add that I lived in Paris for two years, 1965-6, as a student at "Sciences Po". It remains one of my favourite cities. I will follow your blog to see how you make out there.

  40. Anonymous

    July 21, 2010

    No offense, but I signed up for Lingq and found the results to be extremely unsuccessful. The website's layout is very confusing and the lessons are uncoordinated (even for someone with basic French comprehension). I honestly believe that — to posses the ability to hold basic conversations — using French audio tapes (where you can follow along with a book) will be more useful. It worked for me and my husband!

  41. Anonymous

    July 21, 2010

    my french teacher used to make us read one magazine tear each day. the paragraphs are small, and easier to decipher because photos are typically involved. this is a pretty simple (and fun) way to practice a little each day. and not too overwhelming. bonne chance!

  42. kid.

    July 22, 2010

    what a great link! my boyfriend and i have been trying to learn spanish for months now, as it is the main language of our neighborhood, but it's been hard finding a good way to learn. definitely making an account here now!

  43. Egg

    July 22, 2010

    Bonne chance! Et bienvenue chez nous!

    Goog luck with french, even for me it's hard! but you'll see once in France, speaking every day will definely help you!

    Maybe watching movies in french, with french subtitles (begin with the english ones maybe) will help you…

  44. abby

    July 23, 2010

    congrats and good luck! i wish you a beautiful life there filled with beautiful little moments, as in this video


  45. Steve Kaufmann

    July 23, 2010

    @anonymous re LingQ. I do not think this is the place to present a long list of testimonials of people who found success at LingQ.

    Let me say, however, that the three keys to language learning were once summed up for me by a wise lady who was head of language instruction at an American university.

    The attitude of the learner
    The time the learner puts in
    The attentiveness of the learner to the language

    The method matters less. Different people have different needs and preferences.

    I would advise Jordan as follows:

    1) be as positive as possible about French, the language, the culture, the people, the country, and to believe that she can become a part of "their" group, and to believe that she can be fluent, albeit with mistakes and an accent.

    2) to put in the time, at least one hour a day listening and reading in the language.

    3) use your mistakes, flash cards, the odd grammar review and your determination to help you notice what is happening in the language. You need not remember or get it right all the time, you just need to notice.


  46. laurenw1021

    July 27, 2010

    when I lived in Spain one of the best pieces of advice someone gave me was to buy music in spanish. it helped me so much listen to the words and figure out the meaning. not to mention, i love music! so i'd say load up on some edith piaf! 🙂

  47. Anonymous

    August 3, 2010

    Je suis parisienne et je lis ce blog très régulièrement, un véritable rayon de soleil avant de commencer ma journée de travail !
    Tu es bien courageuse de vouloir apprendre le français parce que même nous nous y perdons un peu !!
    Merci encore pour ces belles images que tu nous offre !


    (Si tu as besoin d'aide dans ton apprentissage, n'hésites pas !!)

  48. Jennifer

    August 3, 2010

    Thanks for the link on Lingq. I just started using it yesterday and I like it. I have been studying French and I appreciate how Lingq is easy to personalize to my level. I have not seen anything like it.
    I just finished up Rosetta Stone French levels 1-3 and found it very useful and helpful. It gave me a lot of structure, which kept me on track.
    I also read a French language blog on I get free e-mails from this blog.
    For me, using several resources keeps me interested.
    Good luck!

  49. lauren haupt

    August 9, 2010

    Oh, I can't wait to check out that site, thank you!
    I definitely recommend Rosetta Stone. I am learning Spanish now and have been really satisfied so far.

  50. Tiffany

    August 15, 2010

    once you get here, you can apply for courses at the Mairie (town hall). they are cheap (80 euros a semester),there are lots of interesting students (vs. the college kids at alliance franciase), and the teachers are good.

Comments are Closed

More Recent Posts