#6 Read French from the very beginning.
This is a very controversial statement, as there are linguists who strongly believe you shouldn’t sully your mind with reading a foreign language until you’ve attained a good conversational fluency in it. This may work for auditory learners who retain whatever they hear. Many of us don’t. If you truly don’t remember much of what people say to you and you need to write everything down, then learning to read French early on – in tandem with a good auditory program as a pronunciation guide — will help you.
So don’t assume that because you’ve only finished Lesson One in your online French program, you’re not ready to read. You’ll learn French much more easily and thoroughly with a multi-faceted approach. Get yourself some simple French children’s books, a stack of index cards, and a computer with Internet access. Just look at the words, look at the pictures, and see if you can figure out what is going on.
When you encounter a word or phrase you don’t know, jot it down, one phrase to a card. Don’t take the time to look up every word as you encounter it. Just write down the word or phrase and keep going. When you get to the end of the book, look up each unknown word or phrase using an online French translator such as BabelFish (www.Babelfish.com) or Google Translate (http://translate.google.com). Study your flashcards until you’re positive you know those new vocabulary words, and then go back to your book and read it again. Pay special attention this time to the way the words work together to create meaning, and how the words you just learned fit into the overall pattern.
Can’t find a French book to read?
No problem. Here are some links to online French newspapers to help you boost you understanding of written French.
(Please let us know if there are any problems with these links.)