Maybe you’re thinking about learning French or you’re just interested in the language from a linguistic viewpoint. For whatever reason you’re here, we hope you find our common questions about French useful. We’ve divided the article into questions about the language and questions about learning the language so hopefully you should be able to find what you’re looking for.
Enjoy learning more about the French language.
About the language
What type of language is French?
French is a member of the romantic languages along with Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan and Romanian which is part of the larger indo-european languages. There are other romantic languages but these are the most commonly spoken ones.
How many people speak French?
Approximately 275 million people speak French, making it the 18th most spoken language in the world.
What country is French an official language?
French is an official language in the following countries:
France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Haiti
So if you were to learn French, you would have a lot of countries where you could use it.
How different are European French and Canadian French?
Although they are the same language, they are quite different. I have heard a lot of French speakers say they find it hard to understand the French Canadian accent, whereas Canadians don’t seem to have as much of a problem understanding the European French accent.
About learning the language
Why should I learn French?
There are lots of reasons why you should consider learning French:
- It is an official language of the UN, along with English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic
- It is an official EU language
- It is an official language of the UN
- It is the second most popular romantic language to learn
- It used to be the linguafranca of Europe so it’s interesting from a historical point of view
- It’s an incredibly beautiful language
- It’s a gateway to other romantic languages
- It’s the most difficult romantic language so if you master it you can master any of them
But if we haven’t convinced you here, then please take the time to read our full article on why learn French so we can try and convince you properly.
How long does it take to learn French?
Although some people will say this questions is like asking how long’s a piece of string and it really does depend on how much you put into it, you can work out roughly how long it will take you to be competent in the language depending on how much time you put into it.
Romantic languages aren’t that difficult for English speakers to learn compared to other languages. If you had time to dedicate a few hours to French everyday, where you were getting good speaking practise, or if you found a way you could live in France while you were learning then there is no reason you shouldn’t be speaking comfortably to some degree of fluency within six months.
However, if you’re doing an hour a day or a class a week, it’s obviously going to take a lot longer, and although you’ll see your French improve gradually over time you’re probably not going to reach a level where you’re speaking the language fluently.
So although it really depends on you, and how much learning time you can dedicate to French, I would say it’s feasible to be pretty confident within six months. So what are you waiting for?
What is the official French exam?
The DILF, DELF, and DALF are the official French language exams that test the four major language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
These tests use the European framework to grade your Spanish:
- A1 – Beginner
- A2 – Upper beginner
- B1 – Intermediate
- B2 – Upper intermediate
- C1 – Advanced
- C2 – Near native
If you’re thinking about taking the DELF or DILF exams then you may want to consider buying a textbook to help you prepare. Take a look at our list of the best textbooks for the DELF.
What resources can I use to learn French?
This app always comes up as a recommendation in these types of articles, but that’s just because it’s so good. Duolingo is a fantastic free resource for learning languages. It is both web based and can be used as an app. Duolingo provides a fun, interactive course that takes you through modules gradually until one day you find you’ve completed the Duolingo tree and you know way more French than you realise.
You may also want to consider investing in a French textbook. A textbook can help you to solve any learning issues that you may have and tighten up your grammar control.
Take a look at our recommended French textbooks here.
What films can I watch to improve my French?
Our top two recommendations would be the intouchables and Amelie.
The intouchables is an incredible film and has had so much success globally as well as in France. It tells the true story of an aristocratic French man who is left paralysed after a paragliding accident and hate being simpered over by his staff, who ends up being cared for by a down and out man from the poorer districts of France.
You’ve probably already heard of Amelie, as it’s the most famous film to have ever come out of France, but incase you haven’t, Amelie tells the story of a strange young woman who doesn’t quite fit in and suffers from her crippling loneliness, and she’s just looking for her place in the world and trying to be a good person.
But if you’re looking for more recommendations then check out our full article here on Best French films to watch to improve your French.
What books can I read to improve my French?
If you want to improve your reading in French then I would recommend three different approaches.
Firstly, I would start reading news sites in French. If you can’t understand the whole article yet, don’t worry. Just start with the headlines. Build this habit into your daily life so every morning before you start work you check out the headlines in French. Le Monde is a good resource you can use for this.
Secondly I would recommend using past reading papers from the DELF exam. Even if you’re not going to take the exam, you can find countless articles in these papers that are at your specific level. If you’re an A2 learner, just find the A2 past exam papers and you will have hours worth of reading material.
Finally, you should try graded readers. Instead of reading books that are too difficult for you, graded readers are written to be at your specific level, just like the exam papers. So you can access interesting stories but with the grammar and vocabulary that you know, rather than spending hours reading a book with a dictionary next to you.
Check out our favourite French graded readers.
We hope you’ve found our common questions about French useful. If you have any other questions then please let us know in the comments below. Or if you have answers that differ slightly from ours then let us know too, we’re always looking to improve our learning resources.
If you want to learn a bit more about the French language and some real life experience, then check out Leah’s article on her three months studying French in Paris.