Can you learn French in 10 days? The answer is simply--no. While French is not necessarily an incredibly difficult language, it is impossible to master pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax in ten short days. With that said, the French do appreciate a foreigner attempting to speak French. While you cannot master the language in 10 days, there are a few things you can learn in ten days.
What Can You Learn? French in 10 Days
If you're taking a trip to France and want to spend some time working on your language skills, then make sure you start with some basic phrases. You'll want to know how to say hello in French and how to say goodbye in French. In addition, you'll want to be able to say thank you in all sorts of circumstances. If you master these few phrases, you will find that people will be generally willing to help you out and maybe even try out their English on you. After you've mastered some basics in greetings, you may next want to work on your pronunciation.
French Vocabulary in 10 Days
Clearly, you're not going to learn all there is to know about vocabulary in 10 days. To make the most of your time, consider the purpose of your trip. If you are a tourist, you may well want to spend time mastering how to ask directions, how to tell someone where you are staying, and how to order from a menu. If you're traveling for business, spend more time learning how vocabulary related to what it is that you're doing. In general, spend more time working on phrases and verbs as opposed to basic vocabulary like colors and numbers. Why? You can always easily look up colors in a dictionary, or point to a noun you do not know. However, it is much harder to find a correct phrase in the dictionary and likewise, it's a lot harder to get your meaning across without the appropriate verb.
Mastering French Pronunciation in 10 Days
Okay, so you can't master French pronunciation in 10 days--don't despair. Most foreign speakers learn French over the course of years. . .not mere weeks. However, there are some simple tricks for mastering tricky French pronunciation:
- How to say the letter r: How you pronounce the letter r is not only one of the most difficult aspects of French to master, but mastering the French r is also one way to sound more like a native speaker. To master the French r start by listening to tapes and then trying to imitate the sound. The best way to describe the French r is to conscientiously pronounce the r with your tongue further back in your mouth and almost make an h sound. With practice, you'll eventually get it.
- Those tricky accents: Make a point to learn how to pronounce accents. When you are looking something up in your dictionary or phrase book, you will find that you'll know how to pronounce the word more easily if you understand what each accent means and how it is pronounced.
Resources for Learning French Quickly
Fortunately, you do not have to be lost if you have to cram some French language knowledge in. There are a variety of resources to help you.
BBC Languages offers some of the most complete beginning courses online. One nice feature is the variety of media in which lessons are presented. You can watch videos, read the text, and play games as well. They offer fairly complete courses, from beginner to advanced--all for free.
Learn French in 10 Minutes Per Day
French in 10 Minutes a Day is not the most complete course you can buy, however it does offer some distinct advantages. First, using a variety of media (written text, audio CD, and games) you really can pick up quite a bit in 10 minutes per day. Secondly, compared to other programs you can buy, it is reasonably priced. While a complete program would cost you at least $100 or more, this is around $20 at your local bookstore. It is definitely sufficient for a beginner's course.
Who knows? Perhaps your trip to France will start a lifelong journey towards learning a second language!