Tips For Increasing Your French Vocab Bank

If you’ve been studying French for some time, you’ve probably reached the point where you’re comfortable with the grammar but are in serious need of increasing your vocab bank. Many people consider this as one of the hardest parts of language learning, due to the memory gymnastics you have to put your brain through. And even though there is no official method for vocab study, there are a few tips you can take into account when trying to increase your French vocabulary:

1. Determine your reading level.

One of the best methods for increasing vocabulary is without a doubt through reading. As French is a Latin based language, most of us have the ability to sound out many of the words, even if we have no clue what they mean. This may make it all too easy for you to jump into a book or article series which is way outside your level. What happens in these cases is that you will end up stopping every other word to look at your dictionary, therefore disrupting your concentration.

This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re reading at the right level. A language placement test might just be the thing you need in order to figure out where you stand. Once you have a grip on your level, choose short stories, articles, and children’s books which are just slightly above. This way, you get a healthy dose of new vocab when reading, but don’t become overwhelmed by too many words at one time.


2. Read and listen.

What sets French apart from most other languages is the fact that what you see isn’t always what you say. How a word is spelt can at times drastically vary from how you say it, making it difficult to conquer new vocabulary just through reading. One way to deal with this is by reading along with an audio book. Once you’ve read a chapter, go back and re-read it in short spurts, playing the audio first, then stopping to repeat. This way, you’ll gain new vocabulary and develop a better ear for the quirky nuances and rhythms for which French is known.

If an audio book isn’t an option, reading aloud to yourself is the next best thing. The more you study French, the easier it gets to figure out how words are pronounced. When in doubt, use an online dictionary. Most of these have an audio button which will pronounce the word for you.


3. Label everything.

Something fun you can do in the comfort of your own home is to label everything around your house. This may take a little work, but it will help you to acquire a ton of new French words in almost no time at all. Every time you go to pick something up, pause and say the word for it out loud to solidify the new vocab.

One of the things adult learners struggle with is thinking in a foreign language. Most of the time we tend to think in our native language and then translate into French, making the process less natural and more arduous. An added bonus is that by labeling and referring to your surroundings only in French, you make it easier for your mind to automatically think of the French word for something when you look at it.

Learning a new language can be both a fun and arduous process, but all that work will be well worth it once you’re able to finally converse in near-fluent French. But make sure you have a firm foundation first by signing up for some excellent French language lessons. You can also put to use educational infographics to learn something new (such as how to order your own coffee in French)! With all these tools at your fingertips, you’ll become a French vocabulary master in no time at all.