3 Month Step-by-step French Study Plan with Schedule, Resources and More
The decision to learn French can be an exciting one.
But, if you are at the very beginning of your learning journey, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed about the amount of things you’ll need to study.
But not to worry—in this article, you’ll get a step-by-step French study plan of your path to success, including a schedule of what you’ll need to study across a three month period.
- Find Your Motivation to Learn French
- Weeks 1 and 2: Learn the Basics
- Weeks 3 and 4: Learn Key Vocabulary
- Weeks 5 and 6: Develop Grammar Knowledge
- Weeks 7 and 8: Prepare for Common Situations
- Weeks 9 and 10: Study Adjectives and Reflexive Verbs
- Weeks 11 and 12: Start Speaking
- And one more thing...
Find Your Motivation to Learn French
One of the best ways to build French learning momentum at every stage is to remember why you’re studying it in the first place.
For starters, consider the fact that French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world—and its popularity is only growing.
As such, it opens you up to many different careers and makes you a competitive candidate in the workforce.
Learning French also prepares you for going abroad and lets you communicate with people from many different cultures, not just in Europe but also in Africa, where a large portion of the population speaks French.
Weeks 1 and 2: Learn the Basics
- Learn the fundamentals of French sentence construction
- Learn how to spell and count in French
- Start building a French phrase stockpile with basic greetings
As you can imagine, the first step to learning any language is to learn its alphabet. You really can’t do anything else until you get this down pat.
For many learners, myself included, the easiest way to do so is to memorize it through song. Personally, I find YouTuber Kylie Hicken’s letter pronunciation and song video a great way to master the French alphabet.
Numbers 1 to 100
When you teach a child their native language, what do you teach them right after the alphabet? Most of you would answer the same way: numbers.
It’s the same for foreign language learners and you’ll need to study French numbers before moving on. I would recommend learning how to count up to 20 in the first week, and reinforcing that info during the second week. If you have time during your second week, try to get up to 100.
This guide to counting in French will help you master those basic numbers. Fortunately, the formula for saying numbers above 20 is pretty easy to remember.
As for numbers higher than 100, save them for later, after you’ve mastered this three-month curriculum. Those won’t be as necessary in everyday French life as the other topics in this curriculum are.
Here’s another extremely important basic concept: the six basic French subject pronouns. They shouldn’t take long to learn.
They’re as follows:
Tu (You, singular)
Il / Elle (He/She)
Vous (You, plural)
Ils / Elles (They, masculine/They, feminine)
If you want to speak French with actual people, then learning the basic hellos and goodbyes are pretty essential.
It’s best to practice these now before you add more vocabulary to your repertoire, as you’ll need them to start any conversation. It’s also smart to get in the habit of speaking conversational French early on, so real conversations aren’t as intimidating later.
FluentU is one possible source to start learning how to communicate in real-world French.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Conjugate the Two Most Important Verbs: Être and Avoir
I bet you can guess what these two words mean just by thinking of the two most important English verbs.
That’s right— être means “to be” and avoir means “to have.”
These two little verbs will be your best friends throughout the whole French process, as you’ll use them to form almost every common expression and to construct past tenses in French.
Reverso Conjugation is a great online tool that shows you how to conjugate any verb, including these ones. For weeks one and two, learn only the present-tense forms of être and avoir (the forms in the upper left box after you type a verb into Reverso Conjugation). These are the first steps of verb conjugation that you’ll be building on as you progress.
Basic Definite and Indefinite Articles
This will be your final subject to end the first two weeks, and you’ll certainly need it before learning any nouns or basic sentences.
While definite and indefinite articles may sound like a scary topic at first, it’s actually a super short lesson with only six tiny words to memorize!
Essentially, you need to know the following:
Le bureau, la chaise et les crayons (The desk, the chair and the pencils)
Un bureau, une chaise et des crayons (A desk, a chair and pencils)
These small, simple words may seem unimportant but you’ll use them more than just about anything else when speaking French.
Weeks 3 and 4: Learn Key Vocabulary
- Learn essential vocabulary for the day-to-day
- Start conjugating regular French verbs
Days of the Week and Months of the Year
The days of the week are some of the simplest vocabulary you’ll need to know, and you can start practicing by visiting the BBC, a site filled with vocabulary, songs and audio clips of all languages.
Their days of the week guide gives you everything you need to know, going far beyond just the names of the days to include the French words for “weekend”, “day”, “afternoon”, “night”, etc. Their guide to the months includes bonuses like how to talk about your birthday and how to say which month you’re going on vacation.
As a bonus, each word is accompanied by an audio clip so you know exactly how to pronounce it.
How to Tell Time
Weeks three and four in this curriculum are really all about how to get by with day-to-day vocabulary, and telling time is one of the most important things you’ll want to know from the moment you wake up!
Whether it’s asking someone for the time or reading your French train ticket, you’re going to need to master this concept.
Since you learned French numbers in weeks one and two, putting them together now to tell time should be easy. You just need this phrase: Il est ___ heure(s) ___. (Literally: It is ___ hour(s) ___.)
To learn more about how to express the time in French, you can check out this guide here.
How to Talk About the Weather
Continuing with the day-to-day theme, you’ll need to study-up on weather words. At the very least, you’ll want to know how to say things like “it’s cold, it’s raining and the weather is bad.”
Try memorizing three words a day from this guide to French weather vocabulary, and you’ll have a stockpile of new weather words by the end of week four.
Now is a great time to change up your study method (so you don’t get bored) and head over to Quizlet, a website that boasts loads of great study sets and games.
Their page on French family vocabulary is fantastic, complete with flashcards, writing and spelling tests and several fun games.
Many of these family words are similar to their counterparts in English, so with just a few hours of play, you’ll have these words down pat.
Present Tense Conjugations of –Er Verbs
Essentially, there are three main groups of verbs in the French language and -er verbs are good to start with since they’re arguably the most intuitive (we’ll get to the others later).
In fact, verbs that have the -er ending are by far the most useful regular verbs in the French language. That is because some 90% of all French verbs have the -er verb ending. That means that if you master this group of verbs and the associated tenses, you should be well on your way to French verb mastery!
In order to learn how to conjugate these, I recommend Tex’s French Grammar, which has an excellent guide to regular –er verbs with explanations, examples and audio clips.
Weeks 5 and 6: Develop Grammar Knowledge
- Warm up with the last of the day-to-day vocabulary
- Add more complex types of sentences to your grammar
After learning some rich vocabulary and starting to conjugate verbs, you might be ready for a bit of a break.
Relax and enjoy learning these easy color words using some more of Quizlet’s games and quizzes—their study set for colors is full of all the same fun tools you used to learn family vocabulary.
Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time for some more hefty vocabulary: house words.
Have no fear! As it’s no fun to just memorize huge lists one after another, I recommend ProProfs Flashcards, a platform that lets anyone create study flashcards. Their French household flashcards are a fun way to learn and once you’ve practiced enough, there’s an option to keep score of how many you get correct each round.
They’ve also got some games like matching French words with their English definitions so you have plenty to keep you occupied while you learn.
How to Ask Questions
It’s time to learn French questions so that you can continue on your way to fleshing out nice sentences and changing up your speech patterns. You now have some great vocabulary at your disposal, so let’s learn another way to use it.
This guide to asking questions is useful for learning this crucial part of the language.
Present Tense Conjugations of –Ir Verbs
Here’s the second verb group I alluded to before: verbs ending in –ir.
Again, I recommend Tex’s French Grammar, as I really find their –ir verbs guide to be quite simple and complete. It contains many examples of these types of verbs and how to conjugate them.
This guide to French negatives covers basic negatives, negative adverbs, negative pronouns and much more. Try to focus on one type of negation every day so that you leave this study stage equipped to negate anything.
That guide even has a section that explains n’importe (no matter/whichever/any), which happens to mean many different things depending on the situation and which is used religiously by the French but glossed over in many French language guides.
Weeks 7 and 8: Prepare for Common Situations
Congratulations if you’ve made it this far—you’re now past the halfway mark!
- Learn how to navigate basic situations in a French-speaking region
- Finish memorizing regular conjugation rules
Food Vocabulary and Ordering at Restaurants
In week seven, focus on learning basic food vocabulary. BBC Bitesize guide to food has all the essentials plus an amazing extra list of French recipe-specific terms—it’ll be like talking with Julia Child and you’ll love it!
In week eight, take what you’ve learned and combine it with this guide to ordering food in French and you’re well on your way to devouring some delicious French cuisine.
Money and Shopping Phrases
In order to shop and purchase items in a French-speaking region, you need to know some essential phrases.
Start by visiting Quizlet’s money flashcards and games to learn basic shopping expressions like, “How much does it cost?”
Next, head over to YouLearnFrench’s shopping dialogue video, which will help you apply the vocabulary that you learned with Quizlet. Listen to and repeat the words and phrases that you hear until you’re confident in your French shopping skills.
As a bonus, check out these fun, simple online games that teach you clothing vocabulary while you play.
Present Tense Conjugations of –Re Verbs
Now that you’ve had time for the first two groups of verbs to sink in, it’s time to learn the final one.
Stick with Tex’s French Grammar because you’re already used to the way in which this website presents the verb groups and start reading up and listening to audio clips on their guide to conjugating regular –re verbs.
Weeks 9 and 10: Study Adjectives and Reflexive Verbs
- Start constructing descriptive and more complex sentences
Continuing towards creating good sentences, let’s add some interesting adjectives.
For Dummies has a short and sweet guide to adjectives and where to grammatically place them.
Don’t get bogged down by the particularities at this point, but rather verse yourself in the most commonly used adjectives and their basic usage.
The French language is in love with reflexive verbs, ones where the subject performs the action on itself. You’re ready for this topic now because you’re comfortable with subject pronouns and French verb conjugation rules.
A little complicated at first, you’ll use them constantly once you get the hang of them, like when saying se laver (to wash) or se reveiller (to wake up).
The first thing you need to do is memorize the French reflexive pronouns. Try to learn these during the first day or two of this study stage.
After that, you can spend the next two weeks practicing creating sentences with reflexive verbs. This guide shows you the different types of French reflexive verbs and how to use them in different contexts and tenses.
In preparing for the final weeks, try your hand at memorizing some vocabulary having to do with places. You have plenty of options here, and chances are you’ve already found your favorite French-learning sites from this list of resources.
Try out some town vocabulary with games at Quizlet or keep it short and sweet with travel words at For Dummies.
Weeks 11 and 12: Start Speaking
- Add more complex descriptions to your sentences with adverbs
- Wrap up vocabulary essentials
- Start speaking in French!
You’ve made it to the last two weeks of the course!
It’s almost time to celebrate, but first we must perfect our adverbs. This helps you add even more description to your French sentences by describing how something happened.
Fortunately, they can be quite simple to master since you already know French adjectives. Similar to how you tack on the suffix –ly to turn an English adjective into an adverb, in French you use the suffix –ment.
Here are some examples from this in-depth guide to forming and using French adverbs:
confortable (comfortable) — confortablement (comfortably)
malheureuse (unfortunate) — malheureusement (unfortunately)
Parts of the Body and Medical Vocabulary
For the last piece of the vocabulary essentials puzzle, it’s time to learn the parts of the body thanks to another YouLearnFrench video, which includes all of the basics plus a great pronunciation guide. You can also check out our guide to 140+ medical terms in French, complete with audio to help you get the pronunciation right.
You’ve successfully completed a beginner’s French course and now it’s time to check the fruits of your labor.
Start speaking and writing French whenever you can. Use resources like Linguee, an online French dictionary, to help you construct diverse sentences and add new vocabulary to your repertoire. Use BonPatron, an excellent, free French spelling and grammar checker, to catch any errors.
It’s also time to start thinking about bettering your pronunciation with websites like Forvo, an online audio dictionary.
Finally, you could start communicating with real French speakers on the popular tutoring platform italki. Here you’ll be able to find a tutor that you can practice and improve your skills with.
Congratulations—if you’ve successfully stuck with this French study plan then chances are, you’re a francophone now.
Take a moment to bask in your success, and when the time comes—dare I say it—start your intermediate level course!
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.