Introduction to the French Language

French has long been commonly known as many as the language of love. As one of the five Romance languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin, French is well-loved by millions of non-natives and native speakers alike around the world for its smooth, melodic sounding tones. But learning French shouldn't just be motivated by the language’s beauty, as French is the official language of 29 different countries with 110 million native French speakers and 190 million non-native speakers from all over the world.


Before we jump into the best way to learn French on your own, it’s good to have a little background information on the language. French is an Indo-European Romance language, meaning it’s a language that is derived from Latin with a bit of European influence. Speakers of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English would find French a pretty easy and familiar language to learn. The two languages even share a fair amount of words, called ‘cognates’. Later in this article, we'll break down cognates more in detail.

The Foreign Services Institute puts French in its “languages closely related to English” category for languages that are the easiest to learn. While French is certainly considerably more straightforward of a language to learn than languages with completely different writing styles such as Japanese or Russian, just like any other language it still requires a significant amount of time and effort. Glossika's goal is to give you the best way to learn French on your own so you can get to a conversational or fluent level in the shortest time possible!

Learning how to speak French can open a lot of doors for your social life, travel experiences, and even career opportunities. If you’ve always wanted to learn French but never knew where to start, we're here to help! With Glossika, learning French is now easier than ever.

Cognates, as mentioned before, are words shared between languages that are inter-related in some way, thus sharing striking similarities. In French, there are different kinds of cognates, most notably true cognates or vrai amis which means true friends and false cognates or faux amis which means false friends. In total, there are thousands and thousands of cognates but learning them can be a good place to start when you're looking to quickly increase your vocabulary in a substantial way.

True Cognates (Vrai Amis)
Below, you'll have a list of true cognates that you can start adding to your vocabulary right away. As they are all incredibly similar to their English equivalents, you'll be able to pick them up in a relatively short amount of time. Aside from being similar, there are actually quite a few words that are spelled exactly the same!

English French
activity activité
(to) accept accepter
(to) arrive arriver
area aire
automatic automatique
(to) blame blâmer
battery batterie
banana banane
(to) change changer
(to) collect collector
class classe
color couleur
comment commentaire
common commun
(to) decide décider
(to) dine dîner
difficulty difficulté
(to) examine examiner
especially spécialement
(to) finish finir
family famille

False Cognates (Faux Amis)

On the other hand, we have false cognates that like true cognates, look very similar to certain English words. The difference is however, that false cognates unlike true cognates, have a completely different meaning than what you would expect.

False Cognate English Translation English French Translation
actuel present actual véritable
agrément pleasure agreement accord
change exchange change changement
éventuel possible eventual final
pétulant lively petulant irritable
reporter to postpone to report rapporter
résumer to summarize to resume reprende
valable valid valuable de valeur
rude rough rude impoli
luxure lust luxury luxe
lecture reading lecture cours
incessamment immediately incessantly sans cesse
incidence repercussion incidence récurrence
harasser to exhaust to harass harceler

How to Start Learning French

The reason why immersion is considered one of, if not the most effective and best way to learn a language is because of how natural it is. For instance, when you are traveling abroad, your exposure to the target language is at its peak and you may find yourself in quite a few situations where you don't necessarily have a crutch to rely on, thus forcing you out of your comfort zone. So how to create an immersive language learning environment from home instead of spending a fortune on travel expenses?

Enter the repetition method. If you've ever tried learning through traditional textbook methods, it's clear that explicitly learning vocabulary and grammar isn't nearly enough to get you to where you want to be. Rather, constantly plowing through vocabulary and grammar can start extremely monotonous and tedious before long. By using repetition, you'll be able to mimic how a child learns by maximizing exposure and immersion. It'll feel natural and intuitive, helping you learn French fast without so much as a conscious effort.

When we focus too much on direct word to word translations from our source language and grammar rules for phrases and sentences, we miss out on a lot of the syntax and sentence structure patterns that are essential to learning how to speak naturally. This often results in new learners using very broken language that doesn't sound the least bit natural. While the person you're talking to will likely understand what you’re trying to say, it'll come across as clunky and unnatural. This is true for any language. Rather, the best way to actually achieve fluency in the French language is to emulate the way children learn by maximizing exposure to learn passively.

This is a concept you can apply regularly to your daily life. By reading books and news, listening to music, watching TV shows and movies, using social media, and conversing in your target language, you can gradually learn the patterns of how words are used in sentences. One example of how beginners would take to learning French using repetition is as follows: rather than simply learn what the word for “coffee” is, learn “I would like a cup of coffee” which translates into "J'aimerais une tasse de café" in French. That will not only teach the learner what the word for coffee is, but will teach them how the word coffee is used in the context of French grammar. Out of all the language learning methods, repetition is really the only one that can be used by itself because it encompasses so many different ways to learn and isn’t bound by specific lesson content.

Here are some specific ways to practice learning French that you can start trying out right away that haven't already been covered:

  1. Use audio, whether it be specifically with audio programs such as Glossika or listening to podcasts, YouTube videos, TV shows, or music. As long as the source uses French properly and practically, it will help a great deal in strengthening your fluency. It’s best to choose something you can understand at least 70-80% of so you're not just lost the whole time. You can repeat the audio and imitate the speakers so you can work on your own pronunciation.

  2. If you can, have a friend who is native in French correct your pronunciation and work through the sentences with you. Pay attention to how they breathe, enunciate, and where they pause or emphasize certain sounds or syllables in their sentences.

Aside from those methods, it’s also important to use some other tips and tricks to help solidify your French vocabulary. Follow these tips:

  1. Most people don't realize that as you're going about your daily life, there are actually so many different opportunities to practice French. Even if you're simply taking a stroll through the park, you might think to yourself "the weather is nice today." Instead of thinking that in English, speak it out to yourself in French! "Il fait beau aujourd'hui."

  2. Try not to directly convert the things you learn from your source language to French and vice versa, or any other middle ground language. Languages are not learned by translating words. Instead, visualize what you’re saying in your target language. Then draw upon what you've learned using repetition to determine the sentence structure and pattern of what you're trying to say.

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