Preface

I started casually learning French in the summer of 2019. I became more dedicated to practice in January of 2020. Here I document the tools and resources I have used and use for learning, advice I would have given myself when starting, and a mixed set of notes I've taken down during my studies.

Current Tools

On Reading

For reading, I either get French books out of the library or I use an e-reader that can translate French > English by tapping on a word. This is very useful, although it can slow you down if you just want to practice trying to read uninterrupted, reading in your head in your target language.

On Vocabulary

Ankiº is a software program for helping with spaced repetition. It's most commonly described as a digital flashcard system. It's quite useful for learning new words and sentences. I generally use pre-created decks which can be found on AnkiWeb . I have had more luck learning from the decks that offer full sentences; it helps construct a context and is a good challenge when it comes time to translate from your native language to your target language.

Using an Assimilº book ("New French with Ease") has been useful. These books are expensive to buy, but I got a copy from my library with the audio files and a digital version of the book.

On Conversation

See Language Exchange Exercisesº.

On Listening

Improving listening can be intimidating. Podcasts are helpful. After a few months, the Inner French podcast was on regular rotation for me. I find the topics interesting and important, and it is motivating when you realize that you are starting to understand more than you miss.

If I was to advise myself in starting from scratch again, I would note that jumping between resources at the start is normal; you just want to find the fastest way to learn, and avoid the hard work that you inevitably have to do. Then, you find resources that work for you, and you stick with them, until they no longer work for you. Then you move on and repeat the process. I would also tell myself to start actually practicing with people / finding tutors online sooner (even though it is intimidating.)

Verbs / Tenses

Verbs are a large topic - see french verbsº

Idioms, Slang, and Expressions

Idioms

The following are some French idioms I have come across. I have included a literal translation to English, which mostly demonstrates how difficult it is to derive the same meaning from literal translation (although, some idioms are shared across languagesº).

ExpressionIdomatic Meaning (English)Literal translation (approximate)
Où veux-tu en venirWhat are you getting at?Where do you want to come/be/reach?
faire des histoiresTo make a fussMake some stories
Fais d'une pierre deux coupsTo kill two birds with one stoneMake of one stone two blows
Je suis crevéI am worn outI am punctured (as in, a punctured tire)
Ça ne fait rienIt doense't matter / it's not importantIt makes nothing
Brûles les étapesJumping the gun / cutting cornersBurn the stages
Dans des beaux drapsTo be in a bad situation

Slang & Expressions

WordMeaning
J'en ai marreI am fed up
Boire un potTo get a glass / drink
FricMoney
Truc/Machinthingamabob.
BoîtesA company (literally, a box)
BenA sound, not a noun - means "well," or "you know..."
Bof"Meh, oof" etc
Ne t'en fais pasCasually means "don't worry"
On Quelque Sortes"In a manner of speaking"
Tant Pis"Hard Luck / Tough Luck / Too bad"
Sur des charbons ardensOn the edge of your seat.
Renvoyer l'ascenseurTo return a favour

"False Friends"

Words in French that look like their English equivalent, but are not.

FrenchEnglish
ActuellementNow / At the moment
Assister àTo attend (not to help)
CautionBail / Deposit / Guarantee
CélibataireSingle / Unmarried
ChargerTo Load
CoinCorner
DélitCrime, Offence
DéfautFault, defect, flaw
DécevoirTo disappoint
DéceptionDisappointment
ExplicationExplanation
EventuellementPossibly
FameuxGreat / Fire
FormationTraining
IssueOutcome, way, exit, solution
LargeWide
ManifestationDemonstration, event
OccasionOpportunity (can also be "occasion")
ObscuritéA darkness
Prendre PlaceTo take a seat (not, "to take place")
ProfondDeep
PublicitéAdvertising (can also be "publicity")
RentableProfitable
RéussirTo Succeed
RudeRough, Crude, Hard, Tough
SensibleSensitive
ServietteTowel, Napkin, Briefcase
SupplierTo beg / plead
SociétéA company
SympathiquesNice, Kind
TentativeAttempt
Un librarieA book-shop owner
Une caveA cellar
Une déceptionA disappointment
Une librairieA bookshop

Footnotes

The conditional is often referred to as a "Mood", like the subjunctive, but has been grouped under tenses to simplify the organization of information.