French has been called the language of romance, but it can also be said that French began as the language of the Romans. French as we know it today grew from a mixture of Latin and Gaelic, and the result is spoken by millions of people across the globe. It is an official language of 29 countries, and as such, is extremely useful to know if traveling abroad or in the international world of business. If you speak English, you may have a head start on learning French as an additional language - at least a third of the words in the English language were created from French, such as "pedigree" and "challenge". Regardless of your starting point, the resources provided below will help you to attain a better understanding of the French language, spanning from its history to study tips and tutorials.

The term "romantic language" comes from the latin phrase "romanica loqui", which means "to speak like the Romans". French is one of many such romantic languages which evolved from the Latin introduced to regions by Roman conquerors. However, following the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the languages of conquered lands began to evolve and adapt independently. The people of the Romanized Celtic region of Northern France, known as the Gauls, mixed Latin with their native tongue, and Germanic raids introduced an even greater variety of language into what was then known as "vulgar Latin". The language continued to shape throughout the Middle Ages, pronunciation was revised, and Old French transformed into Parisian French, which is now the accepted standard for the French language around the world.

When studying a new language, such as French, there are a few important keys to success to note. Knowing the correct words and conjugations is unquestionably important, but it is just as crucial to exercise diligence in the actual act of studying itself. Practicing for even a few minutes each day will help you become more familiar with the language, and true fluency in a language requires the ability to think in said language, rather than translate from a speaker's native tongue to a second language. Interacting with the language outside the classroom is important as well. For example, to get a better grasp of French, students can listen to French music and read books and articles written in the language. An easy way to practice (and to stay abreast of world politics at the same time) is to read a French newspaper. Of course, with this method, students may encounter unknown words. A dictionary is a helpful reference resource, but it can be used for active learning as well. It's often more beneficial to read the definition of a word in the foreign language as a method for memorization. And, of course, practical application in everyday scenarios is an excellent way to review and memorize new material.

A language like French must be practiced through reading, writing, speaking, and listening to become thoroughly proficient. Even if the student does not have the advantage of a face-to-face teacher or a French-speaking community, there are many free resources on the web which, when used together, can provide a comprehensive introduction to French. Alternatively, they may be used as study guides and tools to help supplement an ongoing French course. Learning a second language may sound challenging, but it is an immensely rewarding goal. Language opens up an entirely new world of ideas, books, and people; it is a way to expand your horizons without ever having to set foot on a plane. So - why wait to develop the skill?

History of the French Language

French Dictionaries

French Study Aids/Guides

Grammar/Language Tutorials

French for Travelers & Tourists

French Literature