How to Learn French in 17 Days

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I recently read an old article that's been making its round again on social media (https://www.businessinsider.com/learn-french-in-17-days-2014-11). The writer claims that he achieved conversational fluency in French in 17 days. Regardless of whether it's true/possible, he describes his daily routine:

1) Write out regular and irregular verb tables for 1.5-2 hrs a day, while listening to a French language learning CD

2) Listen to catchy French music while running (45 - 60 min)

3) Go to lunch with French friends who won't slow down for you

4) Spend afternoon reading children's books in French, e.g. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

5) Spend an hour writing basic essays about himself, e.g. where are you from? and have a friend check for errors

6) Learn filler words (alors, en fait) to buy time in conversations


Do you find any of techniques helpful while learning a new language? Which one do you think is effective? What are some other methods that you use?


Personally, I am mostly a textual learner. I can read in a number of languages, but will probably sink like a rock to the bottom of the ocean in a conversation. My favorite way of self-learning usually involves reading a familiar text written for basic learners. Most recently, I read a basic version of Les Miserables in French. 


The thing that struck out to me is the importance of writing things out. It actually brought up a lot of memories of learning Chinese as a child, where we would fill up whole notebooks, just writing out the characters, over and over again. I will try and incorporate more writing in my learning. 

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#1
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Posts436Likes220Joined4/9/2018LocationCaracas / VE
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Yes! Writing helps a lot, I'm a visual learner so I try to write or draw what I want to learn. 


#1 I do it, but not for that long. 

#2 I do it while I work, I don't run that much o.o.

#3 I would love to have friends in here who speak my target languages, my boyfriend speaks some Italian and he teaches me some words sometimes.

#4 not yet.

#5 not yet.

#6 I do it.


I paste post its to stuff to slowly learn their names in another languages by repetition. The words I can recall from when I started learning German were the ones I learned using this method :/ (I had a looooong pause and started again). I also try to use the verbs I'm learning while I'm performing an action, like "I'm eating" I start thinking "Ich esse" and "Io mangio" and then I start to change the person and number to help the verbs stick faster.

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#2
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Posts1180Likes761Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
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Excellent post.

meifeng wrote:
Regardless of whether it's true/possible

(this is a rant – I’m critiquing the article, not the OP) I promise to get back on topic in a minute, but I wanted to talk a bit about this. We can’t tell what he accomplished by reading what he wrote. Assuming that he truly did reach “conversation fluency in 17 days” in his mind, we have no way of telling what he meant by that. The word “fluency” means many different things to many different people, so we don’t know where he ended up. In fact, he doesn’t even clearly state that he had a zero base in French when he began. What was his level when he started? What was his level when he finished? How much did he improve? It’s a mystery.


wrote:
Do you find any of techniques helpful while learning a new language? Which one do you think is effective? What are some other methods that you use?

I believe there are 7 main facets to language learning: conversing, listening, reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. When I evaluate a method, I see how well each of these are covered. 


Conversation was well covered; in addition to (3), he was fully immersed and had to use French all the time.


Listening is a little weak imo. Music (2) isn’t very comprehensible at that stage (although I admit I don’t know his actual level), the CDs (1) are grammar CDs. The best listening practice he got was during conversation (3), but I feel he should have stolen time from his writing and listened to more comprehensible input. Listening is the most time consuming skill imo and thus requires more attention.


Reading (4) is well covered, but I doubt he was reading Charley in the chocolate factory as a true beginner with a whole lot of comprehension, unless it was a simplified version. I’m not a fan of children’s books because they aren’t interesting to me and the language is often strange. In the early stages, reading a book that you’ve already read in your native tongue is a really good idea though if you are trying to find something that’s more comprehensible.


Writing (1) and (5) is way over covered imo. While writing is very important, and we should never leave it out of our program, I feel he could have completely done without the writing in (1). It’s unfortunate that he chose to listen to the Michele Thomas grammar CDs while writing – dividing one’s attention like that really reduces the effectiveness of both exercises. On the other hand, the essay exercise (5) sounds great, maybe even a bit much all by itself. Writing too much can cause or inflame tendonitis, so we should keep that in mind.


Vocabulary – I’m going to say he could have done better. Yes, practicing all the other skills is the main way to learn it, but I think he’d be surprised by how much reviewing vocabulary for just a few minutes a day would help. I’ll give him credit for “filler” words (6) though. Those would just be a natural part of vocabulary reviews in my method.


Grammar (1) he covered, but in a somewhat inefficient way. Tons of writing out verb forms while listening to some excellent grammar CDs. Imo he should have just listened to the CDs, and formed the sentences as recommended. 


Pronunciation wasn’t covered well at all. Some people are naturals at it, but most benefit greatly by first learning to pronounce the phonemes, then words, and finally sentences. It doesn’t usually take a lot of time to do this, and it’s really important, so it’s a shame so many people skip it. 


I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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#3
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Posts62Likes27Joined22/9/2018LocationLagos / NG
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Very deep and helpful. I will use it to make a checklist of things to accomplish in language learning. Thanks Leo

If I was to choose being an animal, I will like to be an Eagle.

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#4
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Posts1Likes0Joined11/11/2019LocationSE
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I'm sorry for bumping this old thread, but Rocket French is the standout winner in my opinion. It combines both audio lessons with interactive computer games. Strangely enough, it is also the cheapest option. Fortunately, this is one case where "you get what you pay for" simply doesn't hold true.


The audio lessons really focus on building your ability to actually speak the language and they do it in a way that's both interesting and efficient. There's no learning useless, boring phrases here.


The computer games also make it a fun and easy way to build vocabulary, learn your verbs and improve your verbal recognition skills.


Of course, for those of you who just love grammar, there is plenty of information regarding some of the more technical aspects of French.


I really can't recommend Rocket French any stronger, if you want to take your French to the next level, then go check out the site today. It only took me about 14 days to learn French well enough to be able to conversate on a daily basis in France. Here's a link to their site: 1monthfrench.com

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#5
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Posts35Likes31Joined20/9/2019LocationRizal / PH
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Learning how to speak and write in French in just 17 days. Wow, that sounds brutal. I've read the article and congratulations to him, sounds like he did it anyway. I'm curious about a lot of things about his learning adventure. He said he learned the language in 17 days. I wonder how many languages and/or phrases he learned within those days. Though he did say that he already had experience in learning Spanish to fluency but it was not mentioned if he also learned it in 17 days. Writing out verbs does seem to be a good idea specially if these are the things that you would normally be doing in your day to day life. I don't think I can still write them down though like what he did. Whenever there are some things that I want to be written down for memorization, I find it helpful to do it by typing it in my computer instead. I mean, the only purpose of writing them down once you learn them is for retention, and to test if you did memorize the word, you can either repeat it or write it, and for me well I just type it now for convenience and I still remember it just the same.


Going to lunch with friends who won't slow down for you is what I find hard the most. He must be really gifted to be able to learn it that way. I'd still rather watch shows in the foreign language that I am learning so I can focus more about how the words are being used. I had the same experience when I was traveling to a different country. I did try to learn basic phrases that I can use if I ever need help with directions. As I listen to their conversations, I only got more and more dizzy so I guess that's not for everybody.


Reading children's books sounds nice. Why haven't I thought of that before. I want to learn the basics and of course materials that contains the basic foreign language are found in children's book. Smart. Writing basic essay about ourselves sounds very helpful. Other than learning foreign language, I'm also on to finding other things that can perhaps give a little bit of fun or motivation. Writing something about yourself does seem fun, so I guess I'd really be looking for words that I need to learn in order to do that.


Thanks for the sharing the article to us. I do like the tips given in that article. I just don't know if we can do the same in a matter of 17 days. This is just my opinion though. There are schools teaching foreign language courses for years. It would've been nice if we can learn it all in a matter of 17 days. 

"Не волнуйтесь"

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#6
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Posts81Likes42Joined26/9/2019LocationKR
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I took a french class when I was in the University.


To be honest, French was the most difficult language I've ever learned.


In my case, I prefer to practice reading and listening a lot until I get fully understood. 


French language apparently differs from English. English pronouns words as they are, but for French, people don't pronounce at the end of the words. For example, "Veux" pronounces as "Vu," "Belle" = "Bell."


Like this, in order to successfully understand French, you just need to keep listening and reading French.


Learning a new language sometimes frustrates you, but if you study harder and try harder, you will get a certain level of language skill that you deserve. 

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#7
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JaeHong.S wrote:
English pronouns words as they are, but for French, people don't pronounce at the end of the words. For example, "Veux" pronounces as "Vu," "Belle" = "Bell."

Interesting. I found French to be the least phonetic (phonetic = spelled like it sounds and sounds like it's spelled) of all languages I've studied except for English. I'm pretty sure English is the worst, so I'm lucky that it's my native language and surprised that you found French to be worse in this regard.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

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