Even with the growing popularity of languages such as Chinese and Arabic, French remains one of the most sought after languages to master. French can be an intimidating language to learn. It has one of the most complex set of tenses of any language, and when it is spoken fluently can be extremely difficult to understand by a non-speaker. Moreover, the pronunciation of French words can be very challenging – and a slightly different pronunciation in a word can completely change its meaning. So, with all these challenges we need to try to boil down learning French to a couple basic steps of rules.
When it comes down to it, the secret to learn French fast is two-fold. First, a student of French must grasp the basic verbs etre (to be), aller (to go), and avoir (to have). These verbs are important for several reasons. First, these words and their respective conjugations are the foundation of 99 percent of French language. After memorizing and understanding these three basic verbs, one can easily converse in French at a basic level. An important step to learn French and these three basic verbs is understanding the concept of the different tenses. It is not enough to know the present tense. While someone can survive in France speaking the basic tense, to truly master the language one must be able to utilize various tenses. If a person can use etre/aller/avoir in the past/present/future tenses, that person is well on their way to speaking French.
The second important step required to learn French is shedding the fear of trying to speak the language. Like I said before, French can be an intimidating language. The pronunciation is difficult, native speakers are often less-than-understanding of mistakes, and when French is spoken by a native it can sound like a blur. However, to truly learn French you have to speak, speak, speak. Speaking French is the fastest way to develop vocabulary, grammar, and overall fluency.
An effective way to increase your speaking vocabulary is by reading French news articles or books. A book that provides an excellent breakdown and simple learning methodology of vocabulary is the Berlitz Self-Teacher. Check out the reviews and you will understand why it is an excellent way to develop French vocabulary. This was one of the first books that I utilized when I was trying to expand my proficiency from a basic to a more advanced level. If that does not work try Fluenz French - a portable way to learn French. Also, if you want to learn more about language courses, check out this article I wrote on online language courses.