Tips for Increasing Your French Vocabulary
Languages are made up of words, and at some point remembering and increasing your vocabulary can be one of the biggest challenges of learning a language. It can be a terrible feeling to know what you want to say in French, but to have the words elude you. Even worse are the situations where you realize you never learned the necessary vocabulary in the first place! We all struggle with increasing our vocab bank—especially if we’ve been studying French a while and have reached something of a plateau. If you’re looking to add a little extra to the bank, read on for some great tips to help you grow your French vocabulary!
1. Read, read, read
The tried-and-true, absolutely best method for increasing your French vocab, and increasing it fast, is to read as much as possible. Read the newspaper, books, blogs, and anything else you can get your hands on. When you learn words according to context, it helps to cement them a lot more firmly in your brain than if you were to try memorizing huge chunks of them using flashcards or some other context-less method. While you should be able to determine a lot from context, it’s also important to look up words the minute you realize you can’t figure out their meaning. Then sit back and watch your vocabulary garden grow!
2. Consistency is key
When it comes to improving your French vocabulary, consistency is the one thing that is going to help you the most. It’s far better to dedicate 15-20 minutes every day, than 2 hours once a week. Why? Because when you review new words regularly, as opposed to a single time, you are using it more consistently and it’s much more likely it’ll stick in your brain. Reviewing and learning new vocab just once a week means you’ll use it 1 day out of 7, as opposed to every single day!
3. Jot it down
If you’re really keen to give your memory a boost, try spending 10 minutes a day jotting down new French vocabulary. You can do themes such as ‘Animals’, ‘Kitchen items’, or ‘Jobs’ and learn new vocabulary for each one. After you write down a word, say it out loud a few times and use it in a sentence. You’ll be able to see the word, feel what it’s like to say it, AND give it context, and all it takes is 10 minutes out of your busy day!
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4. Stick a label on it
This may drive your family or housemates nuts, but a great way to increase your French vocabulary is to label everything. Put a sticky note with the correct French term on items around the house. When you go to use said item, say out loud in French what you are doing—using the new vocabulary word, of course! You can even take it one step further by putting up a post-it note full of new vocabulary on your computer monitor daily, so that every time you look at it (which, let’s be honest, we look at our computer monitors a lot) you do a quick mental review of a few new French words!
One of the easiest ways to remember pretty much anything is to have a catchy tune attached to it. Listening to French music can be an extremely effective method of increasing your French vocabulary, and a wonderful way to discover some great French artists. I would recommend listening to translated covers of some of your favorite English songs because, if you already know the lyrics in English, it will be a lot easier for you to pick up what means what in French. But don’t stop there, find some French bands whose music you really love and add them to your music repertoire. Over time, as you listen to the music more and more, you’ll begin to pick up the context and meaning of new words. And please make sure to sing along. This is great for pronunciation and helps you to further retain words and phrases.
Are you learning French and trying to increase your vocab bank? Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you? Share them with us in the comments section!