I think that the worst feeling about French, is when you know exactly what to say to a person and then forget that one specific word, or word gender. The uncertainty is a killer. Imagine if you wanted to ask your friend about his car but you never learned the word “car.”
First off, if you’re ever stuck with a word try asking Comment-dit on _________ en français? That translates to how do you say _______ in French? The blank could either be replaced by you saying the English word (if the person speaks some English) or, it can be followed by rapid pointing towards the object (If you decide to use the pointing method, replace the blank with ça).
How Can I Increase my French Vocabulary?
I have three good methods to answer this question.
Probably the best way, believe it or not, is reading. A lot of reading. Learning from context is one of the best ways to retain words, and if you end up reading the same construction over and over again, the words will make sense. A good thing about French is that many words look similar to their english counterparts (cognates).
But there is one thing you must do when you read. If you don’t know a word, and you can’t assume it by context, then it’s imperative that you look it up! Within no time, your vocabulary should evolve.
Words Throughout the Day
My second method to increase your French vocabulary is one of my favorite. I call it Words Throughout the Day.
What you do is every time you interact with an object, you must say the FRENCH WORD in your head before you can use it. If you cannot do this, you must look up the word and repeat it five times. Another alternative is to place sticky notes on objects and when you use them come up with sentence with the object.
At first, this may be very tedious, especially if you wanted to just use the computer quickly to find a word that slipped your mind. Yet, if you keep up with this method, you’ll know a ton of French vocabulary around your home and workplace within a few days. Also, you’re reinforcing your vocabulary every day, and every time you use the object. This is probably one of the easiest ways to gain French vocabulary fast.
My last method of gaining vocabulary: straight up memorization.
This is probably the least effective way, but it is typically required for beginning french learners to gain a starting point. You should try to create flashcards, make word associations, and review your words often. Memrise is a good website which has a lot of picture-word associated Flashcards set up by users. I’ve used this method countless times and gained tons of vocabulary by flipping through flashcards on a daily basis.
I also suggest that you look up words that relate to yourself. If you love soccer so much and play it in high school – you should know how to say “I’m a soccer player” or “scored a goal” in French, this way you can better communicate things about yourself to French speakers.
If you learn words that relate to objects or activities you like, then those words will stick more easily than random vocabulary words.
You can scour the other online resources I provided to increase your vocabulary, this page provides links where you can ready French articles or watch French news broadcasts to better help your vocabulary and comprehension.
Have any other cool methods of your own? I’d love to hear them below!
Bon courage avec vos études, à bientôt.