I'm really interested in learning fluent French, and was wondering what the best course of action would be in doing so. I took French all throughout school, and I know certain phrases and words (days of the week, months of the year, colors, numbers, how to ask for the time, etc.), but I'd like to be able to get to a point where I'm able to hold a conversation in French.
Try busuu.com or livemocha.com.
They are both free and very effective.
I don't care for either of R1's reccomendations, they don't work for me.
I do Berlitz personal tutoring.
Since you took French throughout school, you probably just need to brush up on the basics. The only way you'll get to the point where you can hold a conversation in French, is to surround yourself with fellow Francophile and keep speaking French. Make it a point to only converse in French with them.
Thanx to all for the advice (merci beaucoup!)
Look for a local French club in your area. The whole point of those clubs is to get together over dinner once a month or so and speak solely in French.
RE R4 - correction: "Francophones"
Nothing helps like a few weeks in Paris -- start planning now.
I plan on taking a trip there, sooner than later.
What is fluent French? A new Romance language?
After a certain age, about 5 or so, the part of your brain that learns language begins to shut down. When you try to learn it as an adult it just becomes algebra with letters. Most people can learn the basics in a classroom but to become truly conversational or fluent you need to live somewhere where French is the language.
Even then it will be difficult. English is so pervasive anywhere you'd want to live most people just click on their English when they see you struggling.
Le Francais n'est pas une langue nouvelle, idiot.
What r4 said
Listen to it - good for understanding, and pronuciation.
If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, under "News", they also have a "In simple French" broadcast you can listen to.
Moi aussi, OP.
I have GCSE (High School) French and was much better at writing it than being able to listen to it (but even then I'd fuck up on the grammar). I could speak it but had no comprehension of the accent. No more, j'espere!
Merci pour l'URL, R14/15.
It's my next target for this year. Je voudrais etude le francais! J'adore le francais. J'aime ecouter; j'aime parler.
Allez, salut maintenant!
As you can see, my comprehension would make me sound like a backwards 5 year old to the natives.
Read every day. I am learning German at 50. I have found that reading is really fundamental to learning the language, particularly one as difficult as German.
I learnt a lot of French watching French films.
Also, I don't know where you live but do you have access to French TV channels? I know you can get French radio on the internet. Just have it on all the time, even if you just pick up the rhythms of speech.
Spend the summer in Montreal or do the summer French intensive at Middlebury College. You'll never be fluent. It's too late. Subscribe to TV5, the French language TV station in the US.
I majored in French Lit in the 60's and still have difficulty understanding spoken French when I'm in Paris. They speak very fast. Your ears have to get acclimated too and your brain has to process what you hear.
Some people have a knack for a foreign language and other just can't get it no matter what they try.
Je vous souhaite bonne chance.
[quote]Most people can learn the basics in a classroom but to become truly conversational or fluent you need to live somewhere where French is the language.
Even then it will be difficult. English is so pervasive anywhere you'd want to live most people just click on their English when they see you struggling.
People who's first language is french never click on their english, because they are not able to. In France hardly anyone speaks english nor do they want to.
The French are wellknown for being arrogant and unpleasant.
Go to Canada, Paris is hell!
Anyone who responds with "Thanx!" will prove incapable of learning French with enough facility not to be spat on. And justly so.
Give it up, OP. Take up Carny and learn to enjoy the sensation of biting the heads off chickens.
Watch your favorite DVDs (ones you've seen a million times and have practically memorized) with the audio and subtitles set to French.
Interesting idea R23. I think I'll try it.
If you're in New York, consider joining the French Institute/Alliance Française.
Yes, immersion is the best way to do it. I had three years of Spanish in high school and I still remember a hell of a lot of it.
Listening to it elements translate on the fly. But I can read the language with ease now. The contextual clues are right in front of you in that case.
In France hardly anyone speaks english nor do they want to.
 What utter nonsense! Most of the French speak English today and very good English too. They're spent time in England or the US.
That's an old cliche that they are arrogant. I've been going to Paris since 1969 and I have never had a bad episode with anyone. But, I speak good French and have a very good accent.
I love Paris in the Summer. I love Paris in the Fall.
Everyone, with the exception of the asshat at R22, has been a great help. THANX for the advice, everyone.
r11 and r19 are totally wrong.
Argh - did something wrong here.
Take 2: r11 and r19 are totally wrong. It's never too late to learn a foreign language. It may be harder to learn a new language now than when you're a kid, but I think much of that is that adults get self-conscious and sabotage themselves - if it's not easy, they get frustrated and stop trying. Trust me - if you have to learn a new language, you will. If my idiot relatives could come to the States well into middle age and master English, you can learn French.
The key is to maximize the amount of "input" you get in the language. That means reading in French, listening to French music or radio/TV programs (ideally while reading the words) to train your ear, talking to people.
You might consider taking a couple of adult classes, perhaps at the Alliance Francaise in your city. And look for a conversation group you can join.
To really achieve fluency, though, you need to expect to keep at this for several years. Trips to French-speaking places help hugely - I absolutely recommend Montreal as well. The French there is somewhat different than in France (sort of like the US/UK English differences), but the people are lovely, the city is so much fun, and there's a lot of gay stuff to do. Plus it's way cheaper than France. :-)
Learned French in grad school in my late 30s
I started learning French in college, at age 20, was fluent in two years and remain so 25 years later. You can do it, OP.
The suggestions above to immerse yourself in francophone media as you learn are good ones. Subscribe to TV5Monde, if your cable system offers it; the Sundance Channel is also constantly offering French and Canadian films. In the smartphone age, it's easy to listen to French-language radio stations via apps -- Radio France, Radio-Canada, Belgium's RTBF, Switzerland's RTS all have iPhone apps. It's passive, not really interactive, but listening to French on radio and TV accustoms your ear and aids in understanding.
Charlize Theron learned English by watching American TV once she became a model. Worked well for her.
[quote] The only way you'll get to the point where you can hold a conversation in French, is to surround yourself with fellow Francophile and keep speaking French.
This is excellent advice but not possible for everyone.
I speak French fairly fluently (French natives can always peg me as American) but I went to a Swiss boarding school for a year so that helped. But nearly all the other boys spoke English, as well, so I didn't learn as much as you might expect.
Oddly enough, I picked up Italian easier than Spanish. Not fluent in either but IMO Italian is far easier once you speak French.
Incidentally, I have trouble with quebecois. I know the differences in vocabulary, it's the accent.
[quote]What utter nonsense! Most of the French speak English today and very good English too. They're spent time in England or the US.
I don't know what circles you move in, but I am talking about "normal" people.
The kind of people you speak to when you are doing tourist things, like waiters,bus drivers, people on the street etc.
[quote]That's an old cliche that they are arrogant. I've been going to Paris since 1969 and I have never had a bad episode with anyone. But, I speak good French and have a very good accent.
It is the same cliche that people in the US are fat and Russians are alcoholics; old but true. Not everyone of course, but the majority.
You contradict yourself, you say you speak French meaning you don't have to speak english. When they address you in their own language, they tend to be more friendly. They are very patriotic which in their case almost equals racism.
In my country whe have a saying " France is a beautiful country, too bad the French live there"
[quote]I love Paris in the Summer. I love Paris in the Fall.
And I love Paris,when the French are gone!
I took a couple of years in high school and then continued it in college. I did two summers abroad on a work exchange and kept in touch with friends over there. Still do. Some of the friends do speak English and some don't. We usually speak French when together and occasionally English in emails. I'd have to agree that total immersion does work, well, at least for me. While I rarely speak french here in the States, I find that speaking to myself in French helps me stay somewhat fluent. Once I'm on France or Switzerland, I start off fine and then about two days in I find that the brain starts to overload and shuts down. A couple of days after that, it comes back and I'm good to go. I love speaking it and hearing it. Without it, I wouldn't have some of the friends I currently have. It's worth the effort so I wish you the best of luck! Bon courage!!!
Ok, all you cons, garces et cornichons who claim fluency after 2 years of college French and a year at boarding school en Suisse (le Rosey where rich idiots go), tell me what the following mean:
Il y a du monde au balcon.
Vous avez une toux qui sent le sapin.
De la foutaise!
Il y a du monde au balcon = a chick with big bazoombas.
De la foutaise = hogwash!
I'm curious about the middle one... never heard it before. The direct translation would be Your cough smells like pine, but it seems like it's a colloquial expression...
There are people on the balcony
You have a cough that smells like a fir (Christmas tree)
[quote]Il y a du monde au balcon.
Man, look at those knockers!!!!!
R37, and others what about
câlice à terre
Vous avez une toux qui sent le sapin means You're coughing so bad that you're almost ready for your pine box coffin. Or you have a death-rattle cough.
I may have encountered it in Celine's Voyage au bout de la Nuit.
I took french in high school/college and wanted to improve but can't afford expensive lessons and won't be going to Paris anytime soon. Here's what I am doing:
1. Joined a few french meetup groups on meetup.com. They're great, you get to socialize and converse with native french speakers as well as American francophiles. Most are free or just a few bucks.
2. I listen a podcast called "Coffee Break French", on my way to and from work. It's free on iTunes. It starts off simply and gets more advanced as you go along. You can skip lessons if they're too easy.
3. I subscribe to TV5 Monde on Time Warner Cable. It's an extra $10 but definitely worth it. They show french movies, documentaries, game shows, talk shows, news, etc. Most of the programs are subtitled. I've learned a lot about the language and the culture.
4. You can always find an native french speaker who will offer private or group lessons on Craigslist. I even found someone who did it for free. She was in NYC for 3 months and wanted to improve her English. We would meet for coffee and speak french for 1 hour followed by an hour of English. It was great but, unfortunately, she's gone home and I haven't had time for more private lessons.
Good luck OP, you can do it!
câlice à terre = Jesus fuckin' Christ! Peut-etre, mais j'en suis pas certain.
p'tit câlice veut dire p'tit con.
And how about:
Il ne dois pas y en avoir trente-six!
Je me suis tombe en faisant du ski et j'ai vu trente-six chandelles!
That's chapeau les fesses, pathetic monoglot OP/R28. Please do engage in a conversation with a Frenchman when you've picked up your phrases. I can't wait.
Parisians almost certainly speak English.
Celine didn't speak French, he spoke cab driver argot. He was an inveterate hunter after rough trade.
Il y a du monde au balcon. Really?
If you're wanting to test us, that was a poor choice. All boys learn the sexual/obscene terms and phrases before they can conjugate parler.
 Where? At Le Rosey?
So, answer my other questions, Zizi.
Does anyone have any other sites to recommend on learning French besides the ones R1 listed?
Does your cable system offer TV5MONDE? On my Comcast it's an extra $9.95 a month.
The TV5 web site and iPhone app offer a lot of their programming on the web. I enjoy watching the news broadcasts especially.
Often the films and documentaries on TV5 will be subtitled in English, unless they're Canadian, in which case they'll be subtitled in standard French. Either way, good for comprehension practice.
TV5MONDE also offers this website, which I will now paste into the proper field this time.
Go to Tahiti and learn French while enjoying a tropical paradise.
Some facts about French and the French people. When it comes to speaking French,Parisians are complete assholes. Just because you say something with a foreign accent or make a slight grammatical mistake they feign not understanding you. The German language with its dative,genitive accusative cases and three different articles is literally three times harder than French but the Germans are not as assholish as the French are when it comes to their language. The French might be the most intolerant when it comes to foreigners speaking their language,while the best are Italians. The Italians appreciate an attempt in speaking their language and unlike the French didn't destroy all the regional dialects/languages in favor of French. Though the dialects are coming back in France.
Yes, the younger Parisians do speak English. They usually speak it better than the old school French who sound like Inspector Closeau!
TV5 Monde is fantastic.They feature programming from the Francophone world. The subtitles on the Quebecois shows are quite amusing. Yeah, it's a fuck you to French Canada but they speak a dialect of French with a twangy accent that's tantamount to a Texan accent compared to a posh London accent!
Or go fight in the desert in Mali. The soldiers and rebels French seems so clear and proper when compared with the colloquial sounding version of the french army. How odd.
I got a Groupon for the website Live Mocha and enjoyed it very much.
You get to review other peoples work and post your own to be reviewed by native speakers. You also get to "chat" with them once you become a little more advanced.
I can only go by my experience in Paris, and the people couldn't have been nicer. I had only my high school French so could read signs and speak an occasional sentence. My partner knew none.
The hotels, restaurants, shopkeepers and bartenders were great. We were standing with a Metro map at one point and a (presumably) Parisian came up to us to help us out.
I too have always heard the French were unfriendly to people who couldn't speak the language and was very pleasantly surprised how nice everyone was.
If you want to learn quickly and for cheap, the best way is to READ, READ, READ! Go to the library, start checking out as many baby books as you can in the target language. Read them all. Then start going up slowly in reading level. You'll learn so much in a way that sticks in your brain. Don't translate everything. Try to get the gist.This is the way all the polyglot translators learned languages. It's a waste of time "practicing conversation" with native speakers if you have limited vocabulary and no grasp on grammar (which you will learn intuitively if you read enough, just like how you really didn't need to "study" English grammar to be fluent). You are never too old to learn a language.
Granted older people don't learn languages as easily as kids, but how long would it take for an adult to start carrying coherent conversations if they followed advice on this thread? Six months? A year? Two?
I've spoken French since childhood but I'd love to learn Russian for the literature.
Find a french speaking partner and trade langugages back and forth.
rocket french isn't that bad but definitely needs supplementation.
Ignore the link at r62.
What are the best gloryholes in Paris? Should I ask them...Faites-vous un pipe?;)
That was my experience too r58.
I got the feeling that most people will respect someone who is remotely humble and at least TRIED to speak the native language first. Same as here, really.
As opposed to the entitled fuckers who yell at waiters in some foreign language.... thinking the louder they bark the more likely for someone else to understand them.