Before reading this please find yourself a salt shaker, and take a pinch.
We are not saying that these struggles are exclusive to the French language, nor that these should keep you from learning it. We at The Foreign Language Collective try to be there for you in your language learning process, and that means we also share your frustrations.
1. The amount of irregular verbs
I mean seriously, what’s the point in having grammar rules for all the verbs if every verb is an exception to that rule?
2. You don’t say the ‘s’ at the end of the word
As a student of Spanish as well, I find this very hard. In Spanish you pronounce every letter and syllable, in French, no…
So ils and il sound exactly the same, not confusing at all!
3. The subjunctive
Need I say anymore?
4. Past historic
You have a tense that’s only used in books? Why?
When you think you’ve finally mastered all the tenses, and you pick up a book to practise your reading, and you can’t understand a thing. What’s happening? Je fus / nous donnâmes Ahhh!!!
5. Masculine and feminine words
A table (une table) is feminine, and so is a chair, (une chaise) but an armchair (un fauteuil) is masculine. How does that make sense? How can you remember which ones are feminine and which ones are masculine?
6. La liason
La liason is when you stick two words together when your speaking. For instance: ils ont = ilzont. Not to be confused with ils sont. It normally happens when the first word ends in an ‘s’ and the second one begins with a vowel. Suffice to say pronunciation isn’t my strong point!
7. You don’t say the end of the word at all
Don’t say the s, use the liason and oh, did I forget to mention, don’t bother with the end of that word, it’s not important. I sometimes wonder how the French understand each other!
8. Because of that every word sounds completely different to the way it’s written
Due to the lovely pronunciation (which French does sound lovely), as a learner of French, spelling can become a nightmare. When your French friend teaches you a new word and you know how to say it but no idea how to spell it. The words: toi, trois and toit (you, three and roof) are all pronounced exactly the same way.
9. If that wasn’t enough you have Verlan, a type of slang where all the words are backwards!
I struggle enough speaking French normally but then there’s a whole range of slang where the words are backwards. Bonjour becomes jourbon, bizarre is zarbi. So, once you learn to speak forwards, you have to learn to speak backwards.
French is a beautiful language, and when spoken very well (by a native) it sounds lovely. As a learner of this language, it can be difficult to keep motivated when you say something, and French speakers look at you like you’re strangling a cat and destroying their language, but at the end of the day it’s worth it!
And if you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never learn!
What other frustrations could you add to this list?
This guest post was written by Abigail Nobes