In my article How to Create a Habit: A Guide for Language Learners, we have already established that the best way to learn French is to create a French learning habit. But creating new habits is very difficult, and we could only make it easier by doing our 10 habit rules:
- Knowing your goals
- Setting a reasonable deadline
- Setting expectations
- Finding the proper motivation
- Cutting down the goals into smaller, more chewable pieces
- Being able to start soonest
- Celebrating small successes
- Doing it everyday
- Guarding your thoughts, and
- Having fun
But still, it is easier said than done, right? The question that begs to be answered now is “how exactly can these ideas be translated into doable real-life activities?”
In this article, I will strive to answer that question and lay down a plan for you to follow.
Surely you have heard of the 21-day habit forming rule? Some people believe that it takes 21 days of doing something consistently for a new habit to be formed. Many others dismiss this as a myth and say that it all depends on a number of factors. True or not, 21 days or 3 weeks is enough to kick start your French language study.
I will break down your tasks for the first 21 days, with the hope that if followed consistently, you should be able to transition as smoothly as possible into a new routine that involves daily learning of the French language.
Take note that before you start with Day 1 of your French language study, I have inserted a Day Zero for you to be able to cover the basics.
DAY ZERO: Self Assessment
Before anything else, make sure to set aside some time for you to do a quick assessment of yourself. Grab a paper and pen, and go sit down somewhere quiet. A self-assessment is very necessary so that you could dig deeper within yourself and make sure the basics are covered before you start learning the language.
Here are the self-assessment action points:
- Assess your knowledge of the language. You can do this on your own or seek the help of online sources such as www.talkinfrench.com
- Know your learning style. What do you think works best for you?
- Examine your goals and motivations. Why do you want to learn French? What do you want to achieve in your language study? DO you want to know how to speak conversational French? Or perhaps achieve a level of fluency in both writing and speaking? Are you planning to get a DELF or DALF certification?
- Figure out your time frame. How long do you wish to study French? Remember, the shorter the period of time, the more intense your study has to be. But if your study drags on for years, the chances of abandoning it becomes higher.
- Set realistic expectations. Condition your mind beforehand that no matter what kind of available resources you have, if you do not study intensely, you won't be making any progress real soon. Becoming fluent in French requires around 800 hours of study, and the United States Foreign Service Institute says that you can learn to speak the language in 600 hours. Therefore, it is not about the length of time of your study, but on how often and how hard you do.
After finishing your tasks for Day Zero, give yourself a pat on the back for having started. The most difficult part is getting started, and you just went ahead and did it, so HOORAY TO YOU!!!
After the mini pep talk and celebration, it's now time to dive into the nitty-gritty. Lesson time!
The First Two Weeks
For the first two weeks of your lessons, you need to focus on learning the correct pronunciation. Doing so would make the rest easier for you: your listening skills will be given an immediate boost, you can learn to recognize words which will make vocabulary easier to remember, plus your reading will also be given an instant push.
To help you in this part of your study, check out this Ultimate French Pronunciation Guide. It contains videos and everything you need to get started with French pronunciation.
For the first two weeks, you only need to put in an hour of study each day, to allow yourself to assimilate to the schedule and include it in your system. On the start of the third week, the number of learning hours will be increased to two hours each day. At this pace, you will be able to gain a level of fluency by completing 800 hours of study in a year's time.
DAY 1: Alphabet Sounds
Get to know the French alphabet sounds and pronunciation. Listen to videos and practice saying the letters over and over until you have memorized the sounds.
DAY 2: Focus on Vowels
Familiarize yourself with the different vowel sounds.
DAY 3: All about Consonants
Learn and practice the varied consonant sounds.
DAY 4: Stress and Accent Marks
Understand what's the deal with stress and accent marks. Practice these with some vocabulary.
DAY 5: Greetings
Practice your pronunciation with some French greetings. This complete lesson of French greetings with free audio will help!
DAY 6: Review of the Last Five Days' Lessons
A little refresher does not hurt 🙂
DAY 7: Liaisons
Learn about the liaisons in pronouncing French words. Here's an article to help you.
DAY 8: The Nasal Sounds
Study and practice the French nasal sounds.
DAY 9: Practice Listening
Listen to pronunciation videos or the free dictation lessons here in Talk in French.
DAY 10: Practice Speaking
Read, pronounce and master 100 vocabulary words and phrases related to greetings.
DAY 11: Review the Last Five Days' Lessons
After the eleventh day, you would be thoroughly familiar with the pronunciation rules in French. From day twelve onwards, you will be focusing on vocabulary and grammar. This will go on until six months.
The daily tasks will be broken down into the following:
45 minutes per day – learning new vocabulary
10 minutes per day – listening
10 minutes per day – reading
10 minutes per day – speaking
45 minutes per day – learning grammar
The next five days will focus on articles, nouns, and pronouns.
DAY 12: Definite and Indefinite Articles
Learn new vocabulary related to articles and study the different rules and examples.
DAY 13: Partitive Articles
Review yesterday's lessons and then learn about partitive articles.
DAY 14: Nouns and Gender
Study the rules in noun genders and learn basic nouns for your vocabulary.
DAy 15 to 20
Now we've reached the last few days of your 20-week run. During this part, take it easy with the lessons by learning simple grammar topics.
DAY 15: Nouns and Number
For this day, learn about singular and plural nouns and review vocabulary related to nouns.
DAY 16: Personal Pronouns (Subject)
Get to know the basics of French pronouns by starting out with the personal pronouns for subject.
DAY 17: Review the Last Five Days' Lessons
Review what you have learner with a nice treat. Time to reward yourself for being consistent at learning French!
DAY 18: Personal Pronouns (Direct Object)
Study the different direct object pronouns such as moi, te, le/la and nous, vous, and les.
DAY 19: Personal Pronouns (Indirect Object)
Learn all about indirect object pronouns. Come on, you got this!
DAY 20: Possessive Pronouns
The rules, vocabulary, and examples of using possessive pronouns.
At the end of Day 20 (I include Day Zero in the count), you would already have consistently studied on a daily basis for 21 straight days and thus have formed the foundation for creating your daily French learning habit.
If you follow this religiously, you are well on your way to learning how to speak French. Keep in mind that seems a lot of study (and it is). But here I focus on people who wants to learn French Fast and by themselves.
I wish you the best of luck in your language studies.
Get more related articles on creating a French learning habit here:
For complete step-by-step lessons, check out our Complete Beginner Course at the Talk in French Store. No need to prepare your own lesson plan!