How to be consistent in learning French
Is speaking French fluently your dream—or your plan? Hopefully the latter! While having a dream inspires and gets you started, it’s only by crafting a plan that we can turn it into reality.
Many start to learn a language but few stick with it long enough to reach proficiency. If you are serious about improving your French, creating a reliable system to structure your study time is essential.
In my many years of experience teaching French as well as in my personal experience as a language learner, I know how easy it is to get lost in the abundance of resources available, thinking we are “studying” while in fact we are just consuming random content. Studying haphazardly is not only a waste of time, it also prevents us from making steady progress.
As a French language coach, I always start by helping my clients to organize their learning process to make it efficient and sustainable. If you apply these six core principles, you can make your self-study time more effective and enjoyable.
1. Make your goal actionable
What is your current study goal?
Is it to speak French with more ease? Get specific and write down the top 3 areas you will focus on. For example, do you want to be able to build more complex sentences, feel confident using past tenses, to improve your pronunciation, feel comfortable engaging in small talk, or order in a restaurant?
Taking the time to define what you currently want to improve on will force you to reflect on your current level and prioritize the challenges that matter the most now. You will gain agency in the process and be able to precisely measure your progress.
2. Time block
Decide not only which days but also what times of day to study French and mark it on your calendar.
If you’re taking French classes, you need to be clear about how many additional hours a week you can devote to self-study.
Be realistic. You can always increase your French practice later but starting too strong might lead you to give up.
It is far more effective (and brain-friendly) to study for shorter amounts of time several times a week than to have a weekly single two-hour session. Try not to exceed 40 minutes per session but to stay fully focused.
If you are not familiar with time blocking, check out this 2-min video:
3. Be specific
Choose your topic for the day (grammar, pronunciation, reading...) and material (book chapter, online exercises, podcast episode, article...) beforehand so you do not waste any time or mental energy trying to figure it out what to study.
The goal is to reach clarity and to study intentionally to maximize efficiency.
For example, provided that you commit to studying 4 times a week, you can have 4 different topics based on what you’re currently focusing on.
Let’s say your goal is to be more comfortable talking about the past.
Your main topic for the week is : « le passé composé ». You have already studied the rules in your French class. You choose to practice it with 3 different activities on Monday, Friday, and Sunday.
At the same time, you decide to work on another topic as you need to improve your pronunciation of the French R.
And of course, you will naturally come across new vocab, so why not make some flashcards?
The possibilities are endless: be creative and make it exciting!
4. Use a (monthly) habit tracker
A habit tracker is a wonderful tool for forming a new habit and boosting your effectiveness. Print it out, stick it on a wall, and fill it in every day after practicing French.
My personal favorite is the circular type:
Forcing you to be honest with yourself keeps you accountable. And you can feel proud of yourself every time you cross off a day (which even triggers the brain to release dopamine!).
5. Just do it!
Even when you do not feel like it. Remember why French is important to you and get started.
It is those days where discipline has to replace motivation.
Look at your habit tracker. I bet it would bother you to leave today blank!
6. Don’t forget to enjoy the process
If your chosen ways of learning French do not work for you anymore or if they bore you, stay flexible and feel free to change it up. We learn by doing, and finding the right process requires trial and error.
The enjoyment factor is key to keeping up practice in the long run. That said, it cannot be fun all the time, and sometimes you need to keep pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone and master that new skill. When it’s time to reap the results, you will not regret it.
If you stay consistent in your study habits, not only will your progress be inevitable but you will also learn to find satisfaction in each small step and enjoy the journey more than ever.