How to Read French
Reading is an essential part of learning a language. And to reach fluency in French, it’s the first skill you need to master. Fortunately, French uses the Latin letters, so the French alphabet is already familiar to you. But, there’s much more to reading in French. Learn how to read in French effortlessly, and develop your fluency rapidly.
Why is Reading in French Important?
Reading is one of the four pillars of language learning. Along with speaking, writing, and listening, it’s an essential skill for achieving French fluency. Without reading, you can never learn French effectively.
Once you’ve learned how to read French, you can enjoy French life easily. From reading street signs to restaurant menus, the entire world opens up to you.
What Can You Read in French?
Literally anything with French words on it. Every little bit that you read in French gets you closer to reading comfortably.
- French novels: France has a rich history of excellent writers. French books defined global literature, so feel free to practice reading in French with these classics. Whether you want to read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables or Alexander Dumas’ Three Musketeers, you’ll surely find options you’ll enjoy.
- Newspaper articles: Staying informed is very important. Read French newspaper articles to practice and enhance your French reading skills. You can keep up with current events in France, and get a feel for modern French culture at the same time.
- Short Stories: If reading a novel seems like a lot of effort, or you don’t have a lot of time, try reading a French short story. These bitesize narratives are interesting, and you can practice your reading skills in French just as well with them.
- Subtitles on French films: Perhaps sitting down to read isn’t your thing. Put on a great French movie with some subtitles instead. You can learn to read in French rapidly if you can keep up with the speed of the subtitles. You also get some great vocabulary from this exercise. Not to mention the fun of watching a film.
There are countless other ways you can get access to French texts. I’ll let your creativity come up with alternative options. But, the big question is, how can you practice reading French? What can you do today to learn how to read French effortlessly? Read our tips to make the best of your French lessons.
Step 1: Read in French for Fun
Most importantly, you need to enjoy reading in French. The moment you feel like it’s a boring exercise to learn a language, you’re sabotaging your own fluency. Make sure you find materials that you enjoy spending time on. Whether it’s fiction books or lifestyle blogs, as long as you have fun, you’re practicing reading in French well.
Step 2: Start with Useful French Vocabulary
You need a certain level of vocabulary before you begin reading in French. Knowing the majority (but not all) of the words in your text is how you make your French reading enjoyable and engaging. Words are the smallest building blocks of sentences. Familiarise yourself with useful French vocabulary first. When you first start practicing French reading, you’ll surely encounter unfamiliar words. It’s best to write these down, or look up their meaning if you can’t guess their meaning from context.
Step 3: Practice Reading in French with Other Skills
French fluency is much more than just reading. You need to write, listen, and speak French equally well. Luckily, you can combine these activities easily. Read a transcript of a French podcast, or read a French article out loud.
French pronunciation is a minefield. There are a ton of letters that you don’t pronounce. So, how do you know how the text you’re reading is pronounced? You need plenty of listening practice along with speaking practice. You can still understand the meaning of the words and sentences. But, it gets easier once you tie the sounds together with sight.
After learning about the pronunciation of singular consonants and sounds, start placing them together and ensure you hear them combined to create words regularly. Just like reading in English, sounds in French change depending on how they’re organized in a particular sentence.
Step 4: Understand Basic French Grammar
For you to learn how to read and understand French, you need to ensure you have a basic understanding of grammar. From sentence structure to verb conjugations, make sure you know the basics well. To read complete sentences, you need to know how they’re constructed.
Learn French present tense first. Just like in English, French follows the Subject-Verb-Object sentence structure. So, reading this way won’t be confusing for you.
However, there are some differences. While you place adjective before nouns in English (happy cat), you do the opposite in French (chat heureux). Questions are also in French. You can explore a wide variety of books and online resources to help you get a handle on French grammar, verb conjugation, and sentence structures.
Step 5: Make Reading in French a Daily Habit
Practice makes perfect. And the best way to practice is to do it a lot. THe more you read, and build the activity into your daily routine, the easier it is to make it a habit. Spend a set amount of time on reading in French every day. Even reading a little bit can be helpful. Soon, it will become like second nature to you.
Step 6: Build Up the Difficulty
While you may start out easy, you can build the difficulty of your French reading practice. If reading in French is difficult, start out with children’s books. Just like children learn language, you need to reach a certain level of fluency before you can move on. These simplified sentences with visual aids are the perfect reading materials for beginners.
Once you’re ready to move on, try reading menus, articles, and short stories. Raise the level of difficulty each time to keep your material engaging, but not too hard. Finding this optimal level is called comprehensible input in language learning. It’s the key to learning a language fast.
Step 7: Explore More Mediums in French
Don’t be afraid to branch out. Perhaps you’ll find a new medium you’ll enjoy reading. If you’ve only read French novels so far, look for a newspaper article. Pick up a short storybook from the library. Lookup a recipe online. There are a lot of options for you to read French.
The more kinds of mediums you try to read, the more enjoyable your French reading practice will be. And, it will also enrich your life. You’ll learn about concepts and events you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Step 8: Form a French Book Club
You’re probably not the only one in your area who enjoys French books. Look for a French book club, or found one yourself with friends. You can talk about your favorite reads, exchange tips, and practice your French listening skills at book club meetings. Share the joy of learning with other bookworms and French language learners.
Learn to Read French Confidently
If you want to raise your French knowledge quickly, you need a reliable language learning method. One that isn’t focused on just reading. You need to learn other skills as well to become fluent in French. So, if you want to combine, reading, listening, and speaking, OptiLingo is your best option.
OptiLingo gives you the most common words and phrases. So, you can enhance your vocabulary with useful French expressions. You’ll learn enough words quickly to start reading bigger texts. And, this app also makes you speak the language. So, you’ll always be comfortable speaking French to locals. Try OptiLingo today, and discover how effective learning French can be!