We’ve spoken in the past about what makes French difficult in our article “Top 10 Most Difficult Parts of Learning French for Beginners” Now, although the French language definitely has its difficulties it’s not all bad news for learners.
In fact there are plenty of elements that make the French language rather easy to learn. This isn’t to be confused with our article “Why French is Easier than English“, but rather it’s just a list of some easy components of the French language. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why French is easy for beginners.
French is Easy Due to the Large Amount of Cognates
The level to which this applies to you depends on your native language, but if you are reading this article then you likely have at least a decent grasp of the English language.
For those who don’t know what cognates are, they are simply words in a foreign language that look similar and have similar meanings to words that you already know in your own language (or a language you’ve learned). Fortunately for those who speak English (as well as other popular European languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc..) French has an absolutely enormous amount of vocabulary that will look familiar to you.
This makes it so that you already have a head start when learning vocabulary so should be able to learn quite a large amount of words and phrases rather quickly. Just crack open a dictionary or even just a French book and look at some words at random. Even if you don’t know any French at all you’ll see plenty of words that look familiar.
For those of you wondering, yes there are definitely false cognates that exist (words that look similar to words you already know in your own language, but have different meanings), but they are outweighed by the true cognates.
French is Easy Due to How Easy it is to Know Which Syllable to Place the Stress On
Don’t get me wrong, French pronunciation can be very difficult to fully get down. French is known for its complicated sounds (some only found within the French language) as well as its variety of silent letters.
However there is one element of French pronunciation that is actually very easy.
In the English language each time you pronounce a word that is more than one syllable you emphasize one syllable more than the others. If you’re a native speaker you do this without even realizing it.
French is similar in the sense that you put more of a stress on one syllable than the others. Instead of the stress being more or less random, in French it is always on the last syllable.
This makes a huge part of pronunciation so much easier because you just have to remember one rule: always stress the last syllable.
This may not seem very important, but trust me it absolutely is. So much so that when foreign speakers misplace the stress in a word (in any language) it can be very difficult to understand the word at all. Be happy that in French the rule couldn’t be simpler.
French is Easy Due to Its Alphabet
Contrary to many other language, European or other, French uses the exact same alphabet as English does. Even if your native language is not English you’ll probably recognize every single letter in the French alphabet.
Although the French language does contain a variety of accents, none of them appear in the alphabet. They are simply added to the existing letters when writing.
This helps French to seem less intimidating to learners and makes it seem less “foreign” straight from the beginning.
If you’re just starting out with learning French you’ll be happy to know that there’s one less barrier that will stop you from achieving fluency.
French is Easy Because of All the Opportunities to Practice
No matter what your native language is this point will apply to you. There are many who for one reason or another don’t really like to speak their native language with foreigners.
It’s not necessarily for bad reasons as it’s usually just because they prefer speaking English or sometimes another language when conversing with non-natives. Fortunately for us, native-French speakers however do not have this issue at all.
French speaker love speaking their language with others no matter where their homeland is. In many instances you can’t even get them to speak any other language!
This makes getting all the valuable practice you need very very easy to do.
Along with having plenty of opportunities to practice there are also just a lot of resources dedicated to learning French out there (like this site).
French is one of the most popular languages in the world to learn so finding books, websites, tutors, etc.. to help you in your studies is incredibly easy. This unfortunately cannot be said for all languages.
French is Easy Due to Consistency in its Pronunciation
We’ve already gone over how French pronunciation has plenty of difficulties. Well there’s actually another reason why it’s easy, it’s consistent!
The number of weird pronunciation rules and silent letters are enough to make any normal person want to pull their hair out. However, once you get it all down, then you are pretty much able to pronounce any word thrown at you, even if you’ve never seen it before. Here are some examples..
Aient is pronounced the same in…
Aux is pronounced the same in…
Aux Champs Elysées
There are hundreds of other examples just like these two…
There aren’t many exceptions to any pronunciation rules, they just appear difficult to those who don’t know them. French isn’t by any means a phonetic language, but that doesn’t mean its pronunciation has to always be difficult.
Any language that you don’t speak is going to be difficult. French is absolutely no exception to this. For most people it’s hard to start learning a language and consider any element as “easy”. It’s not until after you learn some of these elements that you realize how easy they were.
No matter what your native language is most of these reasons should apply to you. There are no doubt many many others, but I feel that these five will apply to the most people.
French is not by any means a difficult language to learn. If you truly have the motivation and drive then you’ll likely find even more reasons why it’s easy than what’s listed here.
What do you think? Do you agree with any of these points? What else makes French an easy language to learn? Comment below and tell us what you think.