French language is a stumbling block for most Ghanaian students and those who want to learn basic French. Learning French as a student or an adult is not the same thing as learning it as a child. Children pick up language naturally, without having to be taught Grammar, Pronunciation and Vocabulary. When learning their first language, they have nothing to compare it to, and they can often learn a second language the same way easily.
Students or adults, on the other hand, tend to learn a language by comparing it to their native language, learning about similarities and differences. Students often want to know why something is said a certain way in the new language and tend to be frustrated by the usual response “that’s just the way it is in French.”
When you start learning French, there’s a lot to remember – new Vocabulary, all kinds of Verb Conjugations, strange spelling. Just about everything is different from English.
With this in mind, this article discusses ten most difficult French concepts for Ghanaian students to grab.
In French, all nouns have a gender, either masculine or feminine. This can be a difficult concept for English speakers. You need to learn Vocabulary with either a definite or indefinite articles so that you learn the gender of each word with the word itself. Getting the gender of a word wrong can lead to confusion at best and a completely different meaning at worst since some words have different meanings depending on their gender.
French accents indicate the correct pronunciation of a word and are required, not optional. Therefore, you need to make an effort to learn what they mean, which words they are found in, and how to type them. Study accents lesson so that you know what each accent indicates.
Although the literal French equivalent of “to be” is être, there are numerous French expressions that use the verb avoir (to have) instead, such as avoir faim –
“to be hungry,” and some that use faire (to do, make), like faire beau – “to be nice weather.” As a student, you need to take some time to memorize and practice these expressions so that you get them right, right from the beginning.
In French, we have something called contractions or liaisons (French) are required. Whenever a short word like je, me, te, le, la, or ne is followed by a word that begins with a vowel or H muet, the short word drops the final vowel, adds an apostrophe, and attaches itself to the following word. This is not optional, as it is in English – French contractions are required. Thus, you should never say “je aime” or “le ami” – it is always j’aime and l’ami. Contractions never occur in front of a consonant in French (except H muet).
The French “H” comes in two varieties: aspiré (with sound) and muet (without sound). Although they sound the same (that is, they are both silent), there is an important difference: one acts like a consonant and the other acts as a vowel. The H aspiré (aspirated H) acts like a consonant, meaning that it does not allow contractions or liaisons. The H muet (mute H), on the other hand, is just the opposite: it requires contractions and liaisons. Making vocabulary lists with a definite article will help you remember which “H” is which, such as le héros (H aspiré) vs l’homme (H muet).
Que, or “that,” is required in French sentences with a subordinate clause. That is, in any sentence that has one subject introducing another, que must join the two clauses. This que is known as a conjunction. The trouble is that in English this conjunction is sometimes optional. For example, Je sais que tu es intelligent can be translated as “I know that you’re intelligent,” or simply “I know you’re intelligent.” Another example: Il pense que j’aime les chats – “He thinks (that) I like cats.”
The French past tense, le passé composé, is conjugated with an auxiliary verb, either avoir or être. Students need to take some time to memorize the list of être verbs, and then your auxiliary verb problems will be solved.
8-Tu and Vous
French has two words for “you,” and the difference between them is pretty distinct. Vous is plural – if there is more than one of anything, always use vous. Aside from that, the difference has to do with closeness and friendliness versus distance and respect.
Capitalization is much less common in French than in English. The first person singular subject pronoun (je), days of the week, months of the year, and languages are not capitalized in French.
Cette is the singular feminine form of the demonstrative adjective ce (ce garçon – “this boy,” cette fille – “this girl”) and students often make the mistake of using “cettes” as the plural feminine, but in fact this word does not exist. Ces is the plural for both masculine and feminine: ces garçons – “these boys,” ces filles – “these girls.”
Free French Online Tutorials
We are currently working hard to detect difficulties students encounter while learning French language. This online French tutorial will be available for those who are interested and want to learn some basic French for personal, business, for exams or to compete today’s job market. Further information about it will be provided later.
By: Michael Djan
French Tutor and Digital Marketing Blogger/Content Writer and GhanaWeb Blogger @ frencheducationgh.com