Refresh Your Memory: 7 Effective Memorization Techniques For Language Learning
What is the most powerful tool for learning a foreign language? It is our memory.
English and French are two very close languages. These two languages are deeply intertwined by history. With their similarities, it possible to learn French when English is your native language?
If you’re browsing the internet and reading this blog, there’s a big chance that you’re a native English speaker or someone knowledgeable. And that’s not a surprising thing since it is also considered the Internet’s official language. With more than 1 billion English speakers, there is no doubt that English is one of the most influential languages on Earth right now. If you’re not convinced yet, did you know that you can learn French through English?
Indeed, French and English are both very similar. Both are also categorized as Category I languages by the US Foreign Service Institue. This sentence: “I love the omelet made by the restaurant chef.” has three French words on it (omelet, chef, and restaurant). French is that one language considered as English’s close sibling.
English is a Western Germanic language, while French is from the Indo-European family of languages. Although fundamentally different, the long history of both languages had made huge influences on each other. In this article, we will learn more about the similarities and differences between English and French and how to use English to make French learning easier.
A long time ago, during the 11th century, Old English had been used by Anglo-Saxons to communicate with each other. Back then, it was just a “dialect” rather than a full-fledged language. However, that changed during the Norman Conquest. The new rulers of the area did not only brought a new monarch; they also introduced the French language.
French was the most popular language in Britain during the time between the 11th and 12th centuries. However, the language is considered as a language of the nobility. Ordinary people in the era doesn’t use the language as often. Eventually, some French words found their way to the English language.
A few years later, the “Hundred Years’ War” happened. This war had ended the reign of the monarchs from the Norman conquest. Once again, English became the official language in England. At this point, however, you cannot deny the influences brought upon by the French language to English.
As of now, English is still the primary language of England. But years of coexistence with the French language had affected its lexicon, grammar, phonological aspects, and more. With hundreds of years of influences, both languages grew to become very similar, especially in loanwords.
The influence of French in the English language is deeply rooted to the core. English has borrowed words from French vocabulary. 29% of English words are considered as purely French, which is around 10,000 commonly-used words. And that’s not all. Almost 1,700 words have the same meaning in both languages.
Another similarity between these two languages is the use of the Latin alphabet. If you can read in English, you can also read French easily. Although there are some exceptions, most of the French symbols and phonetics are also being used in English. The only difference in French is using accented alphabet letters called the diacritics (e.g., â ê î ô û.)
Another similarity shared by both languages is the use of these suffixes: -ation, -tion, -ssion, -able, -ism, and -if. Words like information, acceleration, and mission are heavily influenced by their French counterparts. The use of these suffixes is the result of Latin’s influence in both languages.
An interesting thing about English is how its more sophisticated words are straight-up French. For example, a fancy version of “sheep meat” is mutton or mouton. Instead of using “understand,” you can use the word “comprehend,” coming from the French word: comprehendre. If something is very fashionable or refined, we often say the word “elegant,” which comes from the élégance. The list goes on for examples and such.
Even in modern times, both languages are evolving together. A new phenomenon has been observed since 1964, in which French-speaking people are adopting modern English words, and vice versa. This phenomenon is called “Franglais” and usually happens when there are terms that don’t have synonyms in the native language. Terms like le footing, un jogging, and le weekend are some of the most famous examples.
Because of the similarities in vocabulary and grammar, English speakers will have an easier time learning French. You automatically have a handful of words that you can use to expand your vocabulary. But even with these similarities, there are things that make both languages unique, especially in pronunciation. Here are some of the key differences to avoid while learning French.
The best feature of the English language might also be its biggest weakness. Indeed, there are a hundred loanwords and cognates that make vocabulary easier. Words with the same meaning and same original root in two languages are called cognates. But there are also “false cognates,” or words with the same root words but have different meanings. And there are tons of these false cognates in French.
Perhaps, the most embarrassing false cognate trap is the word brassiere. In English, this is a piece of clothing usually connected with lingerie. But in French, the same word pertains to an establishment (usually a brewery) that offers meals. Blessé is another misleading word, which means “wound” in French, and not to invoke divine favor from a holy entity.
English can be weird sometimes. Certain combinations of letters produce phonetics that doesn’t make sense (e.g., “gh” sometimes sounds like “f”). There are also weird rules like that in French. And some letters are just ignored altogether (think of “K” in the word knife, or the “t” in the word mortgage.)
There are also silent letters in French, and it can be more challenging than English silent letters. Silent letters are divided into three categories: e muet, h muet, and h aspiré. If you want to perfect your French spelling lessons, you should master these silent letters by heart. Noun agreement depends on proper usages of silent letters, so keep this in mind.
Beginners of French would often see these accent marks as “decorations” used for adding flair. However, it is not the case because accented letters indicate how to pronounce a word correctly. If you miss the accent, your word can change meanings that can confuse even the native speakers.
Accented letters are confusing at first due to their various iterations. A total of five accents are available (acute, grave, circumflex, trema, and cedilla.) Fortunately, only the five vowels have accents. There are times when accents are also applied “c,” but it is not largely used than accents in the vowels.
There are similarities in syntaxes when it comes to both English and French sentences. An excellent example of this is the use of Subject-Verb-Direct Object or SVDo sentences. In most cases, the SVDo pattern is apparent, and even a non-student can see the similarities. “Je mange fruit.” can be directly translated to “I eat fruit.”
But when pronouns started to appear in the sentence, it reverses the word order. From SVDO, it becomes Subject + Object (the pronoun) + Verb. So the English sentence: “I’ll eat it.” is translated to “Je le mange.” There are other tenses, adjectives, and adverbs in the French language that might also change the sentences’ structure, so don’t forget to keep these in check.
Written French is relatively easy for an English speaker. Accents might be challenging at first, but it gets easy to follow once you know these markers by heart. What makes French challenging even to English speakers is its phonology. French is known for its nasal sounds, which are often not used by English speakers. When studying the language, you’re re-learning your speech system.
Also, adding stress and pauses in a sentence is not a thing in the French language. Since French is a Romance language, each sentence continues until the thought has been conveyed. This is also due to the French liaison, making the sentence’s overall flow smooth and posh.
If you already have advanced knowledge of the English vocabulary, then learning basic French words are relatively easy. You can use this advantage to make French learning easier fun. If you get your mind into it, you can master a language and use it to enrich your life experiences. Make sure that you also practice pronunciation, as it would likely be your biggest challenge. Here are some things you can do to improve in French immediately.
What’s tricky about the volume of familiar words in French is the false sense of security in using it. You might get yourself embarrassed if you use English-sounding words in a French sentence without knowing that it is a false cognate. To avoid this problem, learn what French words are considered cognates or false cognates. This is to prevent making confusion during a conversation.
Real-life interactive materials like language apps are great to use for learning French. These apps usually make learning pronunciation a bit less tedious than learning alone. Additionally, you will get immediate feedback when you’re saying a word wrong or if your pronunciation is a bit off. Getting an audio reference and visual cues is also a simple touch, but an overall great addition.
The most challenging part of learning French is pronunciation. Liaisons and nasal vowels can give you a very frustrating time if you don’t understand how to produce the sound correctly. And to do so, you need to use audio good audio material for your study. French music is always a good starting point for pronunciation. But if you want to experience a close real-life accent, you can use French movies and TV shows instead.
If you’re still not confident with your French listening skills, one of your best options is to get help from an English-speaking French tutor. Online platforms like JustLearn are an excellent place to meet new people and get a great language tutor. This might help you a lot, especially if you’re just starting.
Languages are very special: you can see a place’s history just by listening to the language used. And in the case of French and English, the influences of both languages are very apparent. If you’re stuck on a lesson or have a hard time acclimating to French pronunciation, tutors from Justlearn might help you get through. Enjoy your free trial if you book your first ever French sessions today.
If you already have advanced knowledge of the English vocabulary, then learning basic French words are relatively easy. You can use this advantage to make French learning easier fun. If you get your mind into it, you can master a language and use it to enrich your life experiences. Make sure that you also practice pronunciation, as it would likely be your biggest challenge. Here are some things you can do to improve in French immediately, Know Both Cognates And False Cognates, Use Interactive Real-Life Learning Materials, Try To Study French With Audio As Much As Possible, Find An English-Speaking French Tutor
Because of the similarities in vocabulary and grammar, English speakers will have an easier time learning French. You automatically have a handful of words that you can use to expand your vocabulary. But even with these similarities, there are things that make both languages unique, especially in pronunciation. Here are some of the key differences to avoid while learning French. 1. The Vocabulary Is Not 100% The Same. 2. The Silent Letters. 3. The Accent Marks. 4. The Pronoun In Sentence Structure. 5. The Phonology
It is possible to learn French through English because they are two very close languages.
What is the most powerful tool for learning a foreign language? It is our memory.
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