French is one of the most difficult languages to learn among the widely spoken languages. You can learn French online, but you need to know what makes one program more valuable than another. You can find both free and subscription services to learn French. However, you shouldn’t assume that a paid program is going to offer you more than a free one. The critical distinction is the variety of learning modes a program offers.
Identify Your Goals and Learning Style
Before you can assess any online learning program, you need to clarify what your goals are. If you’re just interested in learning spoken French, then you want to find a program that focuses primarily on speaking and listening. If you do want to improve your reading and writing as well, then you’ll want to find a more comprehensive program.
You also should know the ways you learn best. This means understanding whether you’re a visual or auditory learner. You should also consider whether you learn best through repetition or open inquiry. Finally, be honest with yourself as to whether you’ll stay motivated and progress through an online class at your own initiative or if you’ll need some external prodding to keep you focused and on track.
Selecting an Online Program With the Right Tools
Now that you’ve identified your learning goals and style, you can start sorting through your options. Regardless of your specific learning style, you do want to make sure the online program you select provides you opportunities to get interactive with the language. Studies on learning show consistently that passive learning has lower retention rates. If you want to remember what you’re learning, make sure you select a language program that forces you to use the language as part of the course.
The core of learning any language is able to hold a conversation in it. Therefore, any quality online language program will include audio and video recordings to improve your oral comprehension. You’ll want to check that there are pronunciation samples for all words in each lesson’s vocabulary list.
There should also be longer recordings that test your comprehension. The better programs will include optional subtitles, in both French and English, for you to follow as you listen. You also want a quiz attached to each recording, as these involve you in the listening.
You can even find some online learning courses that create interactive speaking opportunities. The ease of communication through the Internet allows paid programs to offer you live online teachers with whom you can interact. If you aren’t investing in a paid program, you can find some free ones that do their best to give you conversation exercises with prerecorded speaking partners.
Reading and Writing
Writing with ease in a foreign language is notoriously difficult, even for people who have spoken fluency. You may decide to include reading as a priority without including writing as well.
As with the spoken exercises, reading comprehension should include interactive quizzes, games, and other activities to reinforce what you’re learning. If you do want writing lessons, it may be easiest to learn French online through a course that will provide a French language keyboard in its software. There are online courses that include dictation exercises and will correct you for every missed accent aigu or grave.
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