Funky Tips for Learning French

Are these tips funky? No. By using the word funky do I think I’m making myself seem cool? No. Is this title the first thing that came into my head and now I can’t be bothered to change it? That would be a resounding yes. Now onto the overhyped and totally unfunky tips to acquiring a foreign (read French) language. Because obviously I’m a bilingual linguistic genius with a vast and varied knowledge of all things language-y.

 1 The Norman Invasion

Thanks to the Norman invasion of almost a thousand years ago, learning French isn’t quite as hard as it once was. When those ancient Frenchies landed on English soil they changed our language forever. In fact, French became the new official language of England and only the poor, uneducated peasants spoke English. Now to work out the French word for something, all you need to do is find the more formal English equivalent and give it a French accent. Because formal = Rich Normans, informal = Dirty Serfs.

Example:

“Come in” = “Enter” = “Entrer”

“Help” = “Aid” = “Aider”

“Tired” = “Fatigued” = “Fatigé”

2 Drop the “S”

For some reason there are a lot of French words that are pretty much identical to English except instead of an S they have one of these bad boys: É. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea… I’m sure it’s googleable. But the main point is that if you see a French word beginning with É, change it to an S and you might just recognise it.

Example:

Épice = Spice

Étudient = Student

Étranger= Stranger

3 Just Make Up Crazy Mental Images

Unfortunately sometimes (read quite often) there are words that just look nothing like the English equivalent. So you have to get a little creative. My old French teacher was pretty good at making up weird ways to remember words and I still remember and use them to this day.

Example:

The French word for Wardrobe is Armoire… rather different huh. So here’s a way to remember. Ahem: Armoire = Arm. At the end of Captain Hook’s arm is, you guessed it, a hook. His hook is rather like a coat hanger. A coat hanger belongs in a wardrobe. Wardrobe – Coat hanger – Captain Hook – Arm – Armoire. Easy.

Hang in there...
Hang in there…

4 Pluralise that shiz

Can’t remember if a noun is feminine or masculine? Don’t want to sound like a fool saying the equivalent of “Give Sally his hat” (thanks 1950s reading books for providing Sally and Billy as my go to names). An easy way to work around that awkward faux-pas is just to pluralise where you can. Yay for plurals being gender neutral! Exchange one awkward sentence for another.

Example:

“Can I have a crêpe?” = “Can I have some crêpes?”

« Est-ce que je peux avoir une crêpe? » = « Est-ce que je peux avoir des crêpes? »

Because really, are you going to complain if you end up with more crêpes??

So maybe this was helpful and maybe it wasn’t. But there’s one thing we can agree on: it certainly wasn’t funky.

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