How to Hack Learning French


I’ve just posted an article to Medium on how I suggest people can hack the French language acquisition process. I have been happy to recommend LingQ throughout the article.

The article presents everything I wish I had known at the beginning of my journey, in hopes that it can help others.


Hi Brian, I just red your article over on Medium…it’s AMAZING!

Thank you so much for collating this…I’ve just recently starting learning French, my now 2nd foreign language (along with German) and it was just what I needed.

I wondered if it was possible though, to be a little more specific as to what we should be looking at during the 0 - 150 hour stage?

What exactly should we be looking at here?

I agree with you regards grammar, I don’t plan to look at it until I complete my study on the French ‘3 Minute Languages’ course. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it but it’s great as it not only teaches you vocabulary in every lesson, but sentence structure.

You learn several words per lesson, then are taught how to compile sentences with these words, as well as speaking these sentences after the teacher. All in context and all easily learned!

Again thanks for sharing your article, I really enjoyed it!

interesting article and a fun read!

I’ve never been sure about the hour estimates that they provide. Not a point against the article, as those estimates are said all over the place. I just feel like it’s taken me way longer than that. I’m probably just slow. I’d say i’m at a mid b2 I guess but I’m well over 1k hours into the process.

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the reply. Time estimates were just the order of things that I personally noticed. I wanted to show that there tends to be an order in the way things are noticed. I find it’s almost like scaffolding on a building: one just can’t deal with certain pieces before other pieces are put in first. The actual numbers were from my personal experience. Although, believe me, I’m way slow in certain areas, and seem to have recently forgotten some of the earliest things I learned - LOL!

I commend your dedication to the process!

Hi Mike,

I was not familiar with the 3 Minute Languages Course. I’ll check it out. This sounds a little bit like the Michel Thomas method (his courses are on YouTube if you search).

The things I wrote about the 0-to-150, is what I noticed that is not well explained elsewhere. I would say if you start with the LingQ ministories, you will get a “tiny universe” of the basics. These stories manipulate the frame of reference for all points of view (e.g., je, tu, il, nous, etc.) and all verb tenses. Doing the ministories 10, or even 20 times each gives a very strong core.

If you start with the Alice Ayel material on LingQ; she will help you with beginner stuff. And then if you go with the InnerFrench material that is a good 2nd step. The InnerFrench material is built from beginner to intermediate if you do them in order. So, to answer your question, as to what is important at 0-to-150, I would say that Alice Ayel and InnerFrench will provide you with what you need when you need it.

You may also want to pay attention to the super old verbs, such as Naitre | To be born. When you say “I was born in 1900,” you say “Je suis né en 1900”, which looks as if it would be “I am born in 1900,” but it’s not. These super old - I call them “primordial” verbs - tend to carry a lot of exceptions. You would also say “J’ai 25 ans” for “I am 25 years old.” French uses the verb “have” rather than “am” here.

Also, any pronominal verb, such as “Se balader | To walk, To stroll” is moderated in “etre” in the passé composé past tense. So you would say “je me suis baladé” and NOT “j’ai baladé.” This takes a bit of getting used to.

Good luck!

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Thanks so much buddy, I appreciate this and will take action upon it.

Yes, i was wondering when you’d recommend starting with the Mini Stories, and you’ve answered my question, thanks!

I have a batch of very beginner content lined up in my account for French, I’ll start going through it to complement what I’m doing on the other content I’m learning.

Kind regards and happy language learning,


Very nice and detailed post! And I’m glad to see we arrived to similar conclussions when it comes to the subjunctive, the memory palace (I have not tried it yet though) and other topics

Jokojoko83, thanks for the comment. The memory palace stuff does work, and it works super well. But, it’s quite intense. One has to lay out the physical “stations” in one’s mind. Take a room, for example: 4 walls, 1 door, 2 windows. That’s 6 stations. But when you’re dealing with thousands of words and rules, you have to fight to break down the room into more stations, e.g., door knobs, light bulbs, etc. It’s a lot of picturing and visualizing.

Also, when people are using the memory palace, while speaking the language, they are having to move through an internal visual landscape to retrieve all the data. Some people find this weird, uncomfortable, or intense. Anthony Metvier is probably the best guy for this with languages; I believe he also has a book on how to do this in French in Amazon.

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Thank you Brian. This is really helpful. I am also Canadian. I am just beginning on LingQ and see that this is a powerful platform but at this moment have very little knowledge of how to use it. so i am starting with the very few Beginner lessons that are offered. Your article is very encouraging and i am going to persevere and hopefully learn how to use this site at the same time learning french. i am saving your article for when i get more hours in. thank you for this

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Thanks so much, MaryJoseph. I really hope it helps.

Another thing you’ll notice quickly are the 2 major past tenses. Passé composé is narrow-focused in time (think of a zoom lens), while l’imparfait is wide-focused in time (think of a wide-angle lens). E.g., “I used to play outside a lot when I was a child” would be l’imparfait, where as “Yesterday, my flight took off at 10:05 a.m.” would be passé composé. They can also be mixed in the same sentence: E.g., “I used to play outside a lot when I was a child, then one afternoon, just after lunch, on April Fool’s day, something strange happened.”

Good luck!

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this all helps so much thank you