top of page

Emily in Paris | Is French really difficult for English speakers to learn?

We love Netflix's show Emily in Paris. Recently the second season was released and we´ve got to join this girl from Illinois and her exciting life in Paris, dealing with the clichés and struggles every ex-pat can experience in the capitale de l'amour.

Emily struggles in her personal and professional life to blend into the culture, crucially, because of the LANGUAGE BARRIER and, coming along with it, the little information and relation to the real culture (out of all clichés).

[NO SPOILERS] As Emily spends daily life with locals and is enrolled in a French course, she will little by little get through and can appreciate this country better because now she gets it. Seriously, one of the most satisfying feelings is when you, as a language student, overcome that role as a class student to go, live and take over the language at its natural habitat meaning, in the country and/or with locals. By the way, I remind you, French-speaker to be, that you will be able to use this language not only in Paris but in over 29 countries plus a few paradisiac islands.

Beyond Paris: You can practise your French in Tahiti, French Polynesia.

Tip: French is one of the five Latin languages. That means they all have similar grammar systems. If you learn a different but yet similar language, like Spanish or Portuguese (which pronunciation is way easier for native English-speakers to reproduce), then you will be half path to nail it in French.

Once we identify these main challenges we can focus on them through our classes and exercises.

What are the Most Difficult Parts of Learning French for English speakers?


As said above, conjugation is probably THE most challenging feature of the French language. It´s a fact when it comes to grammar, English is considered simpler than other languages, especially if compared to the European ones. Through my experience teaching French to English-speakers, I´ve come to the conclusion that frequently you guys may not be familiar with the word conjugation in the first place as all you have to do in English conjugation is basically add a -S after He, She, and It. On the other hand, in the French language, each of the pronouns will require a different ending in the present and every other tense:

Je danse
Tu danses
Elle danse
Nous dansons
Vous dansez
Ils dansent

(conjugation of DANSER - to dance in the present tense)


French verb agreements can't be challenging at first! When learning the passé composé you will discover the magic of agreements in French. Verbs and adjectives will agree with the noun in gender and number and have their endings adapted:

Il est allé en France. Il est français.
Elle est allée en France. Elle est française.
Elles sont allées en France. Elles sont françaises.

(He/she/they went to France. He/She is/they are French.)

Silent letters

Mangez, petit, femmes, dont. Usually, the letters Z, T, or S among others won't be pronounced at the ends of French words or together with certain vowels. This can sound nonsense at first, but it will come naturally as you progress in your studies. I guarantee.


Did you know in some languages nouns have genders and that the adjectives will agree with them? In French, water is a feminine word

Cultural issues

Finally, knowing the culture is criticallly important to learn no matter language. For learning French it's no different, for instance:

  • "Tu" or "vous" - The French language has two words for "you", one being quite formal, and the other quite informal. French and English languages don´t have the same standards when defining what would be formal or informal. But here goes the most classical uses of each of them:

  • Tu - People you have a close relationship with (family, friends, neighbors) and strangers younger or the same age as you.

  • Strangers in the streets, service suppliers, doctors, elders, or basically every people you don't know or aren't close enough. Erring on the side of caution by always using the formal vous can make one sound aloof, and using tu in the wrong situation might offend the listener who will retort: "Do we know eac

h other? Have we kept the cows together?"

Hint: French have created verbs to help you in situations you don't know which pronoun o pick:

On se tutoie? ("Shall we use 'tu'?/ Let's make in informal?)
On se vouvoie? ("Shall we use 'vous'?"

/ Or rather informal?)

We know French is challenging, so what? If you want to learn this language for good you will be able to find all types of help online, from videos on YouTube to tailored online tutoring to learn French language, culture, and even accent reduction classes. Here are a few more language hacks:

Hacks to practice French online:

1) Practice your listening skills Emily in Paris playlist.

2) Also, check out this list of 25 artists that sing in French. Pick one you like and learn with the lyrics!

3) You can take online French classes with We Language, privately or in groups. More details here.

4) You have free resources to learn languages on this page. Download the list of the 100 most common verbs in French and focus on them!

I hope you have enjoyed this article and congratulations for having decided to dive into this challenging language! Keep up with your studies and don't forget to share with friends who are studying French as well and to leave a comment telling me what's your main difficulty in the French language.

À bientôt.

bottom of page