Books are the classic means of learning French, and offer a raft of benefits to the developing or intermediate speaker.
The most accessible and easily acquired learning resources, French textbooks are a cheap and easy way to learn French, although how much you get out of them does very much depend on the specific title and author. To get hold of the best study book for you, check online reviews and ask tutors or ex-students which books they regard as being the gold standard.
Textbooks are only useful to a certain degree though. Only rely on them for learning grammar rules and as a means to get ideas for exercises – a book can't teach you proper pronunciation or intonation, after all, and staring at a page is hardly an immersive experience.
French literature can be a useful tool in the French learner's arsenal. By reading French works in their entirety, you'll gain a sound understanding of the flow of top-quality written French, and will learn a large amount of complex vocabulary, idioms, and colloquialisms that you wouldn't otherwise encounter.
There's a caveat attached to learning with works of French literature when you're learning though: they're primarily a tool of the intermediate and expert speaker.
If you're only just starting out on your French learning experience, don't think that picking up a work penned by Voltaire or Sartre will help your learning – it'll only confuse you, and it's also worth bearing in mind that archaisms are rife in French just as much as they are in English.
Most people had their first French learning experiences in a classroom context, and there's no reason why you can't revisit this way of studying when learning French later on in life.
French lessons, whether in a classroom as part of a group or on a one-on-one basis, are a means of learning that can afford you a more personalized learning experience. The teaching will usually be geared towards your particular strengths and weaknesses, saving you time and giving you assistance where you need it most.
Having a French native as a tutor can be a huge help for those wanting to learn the less obvious and more advanced aspects of French such as the rhythm of speech; the bringing together of gender, number and person; or the correct usage of the indefinite article. While you'll be able to eventually learn this sort of information from a textbook, having a fluent speaker explain it to you in a way you can easily understand is very helpful.
The internet has opened up the possibilities presented to French learners. Wherever you are in the world, as long as you have an internet connection you can access a huge bank of information whenever you'd like.
With a quick internet search you can discover and download audiobooks, podcasts, blogs written by other students, chat rooms, forums, films, television shows, dictionary tools and games, among a massive variety of other resources. Through the net you can also meet up and chat with native learners, gaining a first-hand understanding of French while you make new friends.
From the standpoint of accessibility, the nature of learning French online is of obvious benefit to the globe-trotters among us. But it also makes sense for more than just those with itchy feet. By downloading an app or buying a software package you can dip in and out of study whenever it suits you – as long as you have the willpower to keep learning, you'll have every chance at becoming fluent.
While the above study strategies are productive ways to learn, a combination of all of them is a sure-fire way to learn French in the quickest, easiest way possible, and online courses such as those developed by Rosetta Stone do just this. Only with a combination of written, spoken and social learning is a truly immersive learning experience created.
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