Introduction to Learning French

Hey there! Learning French vocab can be tough for everyone, whether you’re just starting or you’ve been learning for a while. It’s normal to struggle with remembering new words and phrases, especially since French has some tricky grammar rules and expressions.

But don’t worry!

Even though it might feel overwhelming at first, there are some really helpful tips and tricks that can make learning French vocabulary much easier.

In this article, we’re going to share some practical advice to help you learn French words without stress – we’re here to make learning French words a piece of cake!

Top 7 Effective Tips for Improving Your French Vocab 

1. Learn and Repeat

One really good way to remember French words is by practicing them regularly and repeating them often. This means you keep learning and saying the words again and again. It helps your brain remember them better!

One effective method to expand your French vocabulary is to dedicate a session to writing down 30-50 new words centered around a specific topic. Selecting a theme helps organize your learning and allows for more cohesive retention. Begin by choosing a subject that interests you or that you feel you need to bolster your vocabulary in. 

Here are some examples to illustrate this approach:

  1. Simple Approach:

    Topic: Technology
    • Technologie – Technology
    • Ordinateur – Computer
    • Internet – Internet
    • Smartphone – Smartphone
    • Réseau social – Social network
    • Logiciel – Software
    • Matériel informatique – Computer hardware
    • Programmation – Programming
    • Site web – Website
    • Application – Application
    • Données – Data
    • Réalité virtuelle – Virtual reality
    • Intelligence artificielle – Artificial intelligence
    • Cybersecurité – Cybersecurity
  2. Difficult Approach:

    Topic: Halloween 
    • Halloween – Halloween
    • Citrouille – Pumpkin
    • Sorcière – Witch
    • Fantôme – Ghost
    • Déguisement – Costume
    • Toile d’araignée – Spiderweb
    • Araignée – Spider
    • Chauve-souris – Bat
    • Bonbons – Candy
    • Sorcellerie – Sorcery
    • Squelette – Skeleton
    • Cimetière – Cemetery
    • Vampire – Vampire
    • Epouvantail – Scarecrow
    • Potion magique – Magic potion
    • Monstre – Monster
    • Balai – Broomstick
    • Lune – Moon

1.2 Read, Learn, Cover, Repeat

In the journey of mastering French vocab, a simple yet effective technique can significantly aid retention: Read, Learn, Cover, Repeat. This method involves actively engaging with new words through repeated exposure and of course, practice!

  • Read: Begin by immersing yourself in French text. Whether it’s a book, article, or even subtitles of a French film, exposure to the language in context is crucial. Pay attention to words you don’t know and make a note of them.

    Example: If you’re reading a French novel and encounter the word “château” (castle) for the first time, underline it and jot it down along with its English translation.
  • Learn: Take the time to understand the meaning and usage of the words you’ve encountered. Utilize dictionaries, language learning apps, or online resources to grasp their definitions and context.

    Example: After encountering “château,” look up its definition, pronunciation, and perhaps sample sentences to understand how it’s used in various contexts.
  • Cover: Once you’ve learned the new words, cover them up and test yourself. This step helps reinforce memory by actively recalling the information without visual aid.

    Example: Hide the word “château” and try to remember its meaning and pronunciation. If you can’t recall it immediately, refer back to your notes and try again until it sticks.
  • Repeat: Repetition is key to solidifying vocabulary retention. Continuously revisit the words you’ve learned, gradually spacing out your review sessions to strengthen your memory over time.

    Example: Incorporate “château” into your daily practice sessions. Review it periodically alongside other recently learned words to ensure it remains in your long-term memory.

1.3 Learn them in the form of sentences

Learning French vocab in the form of sentences can greatly enhance retention and comprehension. When forming sentences, prioritize integrating the new vocabulary within a context that is logically connected.

For example, if you learn “maison” (house), you can say “La maison est grande et lumineuse” (The house is big and bright). This sentence tells you about the house and how to use “maison.”

Similarly, if you learn “chien” (dog), you can say “Mon voisin a un chien très joueur” (My neighbor has a very playful dog). Again, this sentence showcases how the word is used in everyday conversation, aiding in memorization and understanding.

1.4 Go out to stores and start using them:

Alright, folks, let’s talk about a super effective way to remember French vocabulary: get out there and use it! Seriously, hitting up stores is like a fun vocab adventure. 

Picture this: You stroll into a boulangerie (that’s a bakery), and instead of pointing at a croissant, you confidently ask for “un croissant, s’il vous plaît.” (Or just pronounce croissant as kwa-sson if you live in a non-French speaking country!) Boom! You just used your French vocab in a real-life situation.

And it doesn’t stop there. Imagine wandering through a marché (a market), chatting with vendors about fruits and veggies, and in your mind using your newly learned French words to revise them. Suddenly, learning vocab isn’t just about memorizing lists; it’s about experiencing the language in action.

So, grab your shopping list and head out. Whether it’s a café, a bookstore, or a clothing boutique, every store is a chance to flex those French vocab muscles. 

2. Master Conjugations

Here’s a handy tip to nail those French conjugations: write them down! Go grab a notebook and jot down those verb forms. Seeing them on paper helps your brain remember them better.

Break it down by tense – present, past, future – and practice writing out different verbs. The more you write, the more familiar they become. Plus, it’s a great way to track your progress. So, grab that pen and start conjugating! Before you know it, you’ll be conjugating like a pro. Go ahead, give it a try!

2.1 Learn New Verbs

Let’s dive into a crucial tip for remembering French vocabulary: learning new verbs. Verbs are the action words that give life to your sentences, so getting them down pat is key to speaking and understanding French fluently.

When you’re at a beginner’s level (niveau A2), start with the basics. Focus on verbs that are commonly used in everyday situations. For example, verbs like “aller” (to go), “manger” (to eat), and “parler” (to speak) are fundamental and will come in handy in various contexts.

Grouping verbs based on common activities or themes can make learning easier. Here are some examples:

  • Daily Routine Verbs: These are actions you do every day.
    • Se lever (to get up)
    • Se laver (to wash oneself)
    • Prendre le petit-déjeuner (to have breakfast)
  • Activities Verbs: Verbs related to hobbies or things you enjoy doing.
    • Jouer (to play)
    • Regarder (to watch)
    • Lire (to read)
  • Travel Verbs: Useful for when you’re exploring new places.
    • Visiter (to visit)
    • Voyager (to travel)
    • Découvrir (to discover)
  • Social Verbs: For interacting with others.
    • Dire (to say)
    • Demander (to ask)
    • Répondre (to respond)

As you learn these verbs, try to use them in sentences or short conversations. Practice makes perfect! 

2.2 Write down conjugations

Alright, let’s talk about another fantastic tip for remembering French vocab: writing down conjugations. Conjugating verbs might sound intimidating, but it’s a powerful way to solidify your understanding of how verbs work in French.

When you’re learning a new verb, don’t just memorize its infinitive form (like “parler” for “to speak”). Take it a step further and write down its conjugations in different tenses and persons. This means changing the verb to match who’s doing the action and when it’s happening.

Practice writing out these conjugations for various verbs you encounter. It might feel repetitive at first, but it helps reinforce the patterns in your mind.

To put it into context, let’s use the verb “parler” (to speak):

  • Je parle français. (I speak French.)
  • Tu parles souvent au téléphone. (You often talk on the phone.)
  • Il/Elle parle avec ses amis. (He/She speaks with his/her friends.)
  • Nous parlons espagnol ensemble. (We speak Spanish together.)
  • Vous parlez bien anglais. (You speak English well.)
  • Ils/Elles parlent de leurs vacances. (They talk about their holidays.)

So grab your notebook and start conjugating!

3. Focus on high-frequency words (learn most commonly used words)

A golden tip for remembering French vocabulary: focusing on high-frequency words. Imagine this – instead of drowning in a sea of words, you’ll be cruising on the essentials that make up the core of the language.

When you’re starting in French, targeting the most commonly used words is like building a strong foundation for your language skills. These words pop up everywhere, in everyday conversations, articles, and even your favorite French songs!

Let’s zero in on some high-frequency verbs:

  • Être (to be): This little powerhouse is used all the time. “Je suis” means “I am,” and “Tu es” means “You are.”
  • Avoir (to have): Another superstar. “J’ai” means “I have,” and “Il/Elle/On a” means “He/She/One has.”
  • Faire (to do/make): Versatile and vital. “Je fais du sport” means “I do sports,” and “Nous faisons la cuisine” means “We are cooking.”
  • Pouvoir (can/to be able to): Empower yourself with this one. “Je peux” means “I can,” and “Vous pouvez” means “You can.”

4. Learn Cognates: 

 Now let’s talk about another neat trick for remembering French vocab: learning cognates. Cognates are words in French that look or sound similar to their English counterparts. Because of their similarity, they’re easier to remember!

When you spot a cognate, it’s like finding a friend in a foreign language. For instance, the English word “communication” is similar to the French word “communication.” See the resemblance? That’s what makes cognates awesome.

Here are some common cognates to get you started:

  • Famille (Family) – This word in French looks and sounds similar to its English counterpart, “family.”
  • Musique (Music) – “Musique” in French bears a striking resemblance to the English word “music.”
  • Animal (Animal) – Another example where the French and English words are nearly identical, meaning “animal.”
  • Important (Important) – In French, “important” means the same as it does in English, emphasizing the significance of something.
  • Université (University) – This word is recognizable to English speakers as “university” in French.

Here’s a link with more cognates to help you: French Cognate Words

5. Learning Word Families: 

Word families are groups of words that share the same root or base, making it easier to remember and understand new words.

In French, many words stem from a common root, often a verb. By learning one word from a family, you can unlock a whole bunch of related words. Here’s how it works:

Verbs as the Core: Start with a verb, like “parler” (to speak). From there, you can build a whole family of words:

  • Parler (to speak)
  • Parole (speech)
  • Parleur/Parleuse (speaker)
  • Parlant (speaking)
  • Parlable (speakable)

Adjectives and Adverbs: Many adjectives and adverbs in French are derived from verbs. For example:

  • Rapide (fast) comes from the verb “rapider” (to speed up).
  • Couramment (fluently) is derived from the verb “courir” (to run).

Prefixes and Suffixes: Pay attention to common prefixes and suffixes that can transform verbs into nouns or adjectives, such as “re-” (again) or “-ment” (ment), respectively.

6.  Use Flashcards

Flashcards are like your secret weapon in the battle against forgetting those tricky French words. They’re simple, effective, and can be a lot of fun!

Here’s how you can use flashcards to turbocharge your French learning:

  • Write the Word on One Side and the meaning on the Other: Grab some index cards or use a flashcard app on your phone. Write the French word you want to learn on one side and its English translation on the other. For example:

    French Side: “Parler”

    English Side: “To speak”
  • Use Images for Visual Learners: If you’re a visual learner, try adding pictures or symbols to your flashcards. This can help reinforce the meaning of the word in your mind. For instance, you can draw a speech bubble next to the word “parler.”
  • Quiz Yourself Regularly: Shuffle your flashcards and quiz yourself regularly. Try to recall the meaning of each French word before flipping the card to check. Repetition is key here!
  • Include Verbs in Context: When making flashcards, put the verbs in context. For example:

    French Side: “Manger”

    English Side: “To eat dinner with friends”

    This helps you understand how the verb is used in real-life situations.
  • Make It a Game: Turn your flashcard session into a game with friends or family. See who can remember the most words or use them correctly in a sentence.

Now grab some cards, get creative, and watch your French skills soar!

7. Use Translation Tools Sparingly

A vital tip for remembering French vocab: using translation tools sparingly and not being afraid to make mistakes. While translation tools like dictionaries or apps can be helpful, relying on them too much can hinder your learning progress.

Here’s the deal: making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. When you’re learning a new language, especially French, it’s okay to mess up. In fact, it’s how you learn and grow!

Instead of relying solely on translation tools, try to immerse yourself in the language. Practice speaking and writing in French as much as possible, even if you’re unsure. Native speakers appreciate the effort, and you’ll gain confidence with each attempt.

Let’s look at some examples of using verbs in specific French contexts:

  • Ordering Food: Instead of relying on a translation tool to order food at a French café, try saying: “Je voudrais un café, s’il vous plaît.” (I would like a coffee, please.)
  • Asking for Directions: When asking for directions, give it a shot without the aid of a translation tool: “Excusez-moi, où est la gare?” (Excuse me, where is the train station?)
  • Making Plans: Practice making plans with friends in French: “On pourrait aller au cinéma ce soir.” (We could go to the movies tonight.)

Remember, it’s okay to stumble over words or phrases. Each mistake is a stepping stone toward improvement. So, don’t let fear hold you back. Embrace the learning process, and you’ll soon find yourself mastering French vocabulary with confidence!


In wrapping up, folks, remember that learning French vocab is a journey with its highs and lows. But armed with the right strategies like mastering verbs, recognizing those sneaky cognates, and using translation tools wisely, you’re well on your way to success. Don’t sweat the mistakes – they’re just proof that you’re pushing yourself. Keep practicing speaking and writing, and celebrate every small win along the way.

And hey, to make your learning even smoother, we’ve got your back with some awesome links to French vocab resources. 

These tools are like your secret weapons, packed with word lists, flashcards, and interactive exercises to supercharge your learning journey. So, dive in, stay persistent, and never forget: you’ve got this.

Bonne chance, mes amis! (Good luck, my friends!)