You will often hear people claim that one language is easier to learn than another, and there may be some truth in that, whether you are learning French online, or by more traditional methods. But every language has something tricky up its sleeve, ready to stop the learner in their tracks and dampen their enthusiasm for learning the language. French is just the same – while in some respects it is an easy language to learn, it does have some sticking points that will confront every student at some point or another and threaten to thwart their good intentions to learn the language. Let’s briefly look at some of these French stumbling blocks and at how an online French course might just help you get past them.
- Spoken French comprehension. This is a major problem for many, even for those who have been learning French for many years. Students come to the point where they can understand written French respectably well, but when they hear spoken French they just seem unable to understand what is being said. The French language seems to be spoken very rapidly, and its words run together. It seems to be a completely different language from the French taught at school! Well, French speakers can understand each other, so of course, it must be possible to understand what is being said! Really, all learners can come to understand spoken French, it just takes practice, and that is something few people have truly been provided, no matter how good the courses they have attended. A good online French course can expose you to spoken French every step of the way. It should provide audio recordings that will constantly encourage you to tune in to the language, even if it means repeating the sentences and words ad infinitum! And in time you WILL tune in to French, and wonder how you couldn’t understand it before!
- French pronunciation. Similarly, students of French find pronunciation a major stumbling block. The pronunciation of French is markedly different in some respects from any other language, especially other European ones. The nasal ‘-on’ and ‘-an’ sounds and the guttural ‘r’ are particularly problematic. An online French course can be a great help with pronunciation if recorded segments of key phrases, words and conversations are provided. Usually this comes in the form of a button you can press to check the pronunciation of a word again and again until your mouse button wears out, and you can say the words just the same as on the recording. This certainly would not be possible if you were just learning French from a book.
- French genders. French nouns are all either masculine or feminine. The problem is, it is rarely possible to deduce which is which! Yet it is essential to know the gender of a word if you are to correctly combine it with other words. For example, in French a cat is not feminine (as no doubt most English speakers would guess) but masculine – le chat – and if you said la chat it just wouldn’t be correct, and a French speaker would notice straight away! A quality online French course will help you with this aspect, constantly drilling you on the proper use of the gender, and all the other tricky aspects of grammar, so that in the end you will speak just like the French who of course use genders correctly without so much as a thought!
To be honest, there are plenty more sticking points when it comes to learning French. We haven’t even got onto the tenses! But the idea was not to discourage you from learning French. Any decent online course will address all these difficult aspects of the language and help you get over them with as little stress as possible.