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Five life hacks to speed up learning the French language

Now you can learn French while you sleep, drive and watch TV

Use car journeys to listen to podcasts or sing along to French song lyrics Pic: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Learning a new language is not easy for most people. We look at how to speed up the process by integrating learning into your life.

1. Learn on the go

No time to incorporate much study into your life? 

Then use commutes, the school run and other journeys to your advantage. 

“Podcasts are a great option for those wanting to fit in language learning on the go. 

Coffee Break French on the app store, or Babbel’s Parlez Away podcast, are ways to incorporate listening while you are on the train or at the supermarket and get you more conversational,” says Babbel Live teacher Esteban Touma.

Read more: French podcasts to help improve your language skills

2. Switch on the TV

While most of us prefer watching films in our native tongue, switching to French or incorporating subtitles is an easy way to give foreign language skills a little push.

“For oral, nothing is better than watching French movies with native language subtitles on, or English language movies with French subtitles on,” says native French speaker and certified teacher Lea Kodsi Seropian.

“This way, the brain will automatically understand what is happening with the help of the native language.”

Read more: Six classic French films to improve your language skills

Read more: Five Netflix TV shows to help improve your French

3. Flood your brain 

When listening to the radio or watching TV, do not be put off by the fact you have trouble following the chatter. 

Even if you do not concentrate fully on what is being said or understand every word, exposure to French will help to accelerate your learning.

Some even claim you can learn in your sleep. 

A study at the University of Fribourg in 2014 compared the learning of students who used headphones to listen to vocabulary at night with those who did not, and concluded the brain was able to learn and recall language more effectively with this extra input. 

While you should probably not replace formal French lessons with headphones and a feather pillow, there is evidence to suggest that ‘flooding’ – surrounding yourself with language, the same way a baby acquires it – can hasten your journey to fluency.

4. Move to improve

Can’t choose between studying French and going for a run? 

You can do both. 

A study published by researchers in China and Italy in 2017 concluded that exercising while studying a foreign language can boost both learning and retention of knowledge.

Participants from one group were asked to cycle on an exercise bike while learning vocabulary, while others tried the same task at a desk. 

The group who exercised not only learned more but remembered it better when tested a month later.

5. Get with the beat

For music fans, listening to French tunes can prove invaluable. 

Rather than simply letting the lyrics wash over you, consider challenging yourself to transcribe them to learn their meaning, recommends Chris Abalain, operations manager for LCF Clubs UK.

“A great website for this is lyricstraining.com where you can follow along with popular songs and try to fill in the gaps, forcing you to listen carefully and with intent.”

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