10 Best Ways to Learn French
1) Take a French course
One of the best ways to learn French is to work through a course that follows an immersion based approach. Traditional French courses and classes use a translation method to teach you French. You’re given a list of French words with their English translations and you’re expected to memorize them or recall them during a quiz or exercise.
Immersion on the other hand teaches you French grammar and vocabulary in the context of larger conversations or stories. The idea here is that you listen to or read French that is just difficult enough to stretch your skills but not so difficult that it feels overwhelming.
The larger context of a conversation or story gives your memory a lot more information to attach itself to. You remember the people in the conversation, the situation being discussed, even the emotions or feelings you feel while listening to or reading the text. All these work together to help the language come alive in a way that is both helpful and memorable.
StoryLearning is a great example of a French program that follows the immersion approach. It teaches you conversational French exclusively through stories. Aimed at taking you from a beginner to intermediate level, this program is a great option for anyone starting from scratch in French.
2) Download an app for learning French
Language learning apps are a fun and easy way to take your French studies with you wherever you go. Consistency is one of the most important parts of learning French. Apps help you practice French in the little spaces of free time spread across your busy day.
One of our favorite French apps is Pimsleur. Pimsleur is primarily an audio based app that teaches you conversational French using its trademark prompt and response method. You’re taught to repeat words and phrases syllable by syllable, mimicking the pronunciation of native speakers. Then you’re prompted to use these phrases to answer and ask questions, similar to the way you would in a real life conversation.
3) Subscribe to a French podcast
Another great way to learn French is to subscribe to French podcasts. Podcasts are perfect for developing your listening and comprehension skills. They are also great for discovering new vocabulary. I recommend finding a podcast that includes full show transcripts so that you can follow along with the text while listening. Most podcasts focused on language learning will have transcripts.
Frenchpod101 is one of the best podcasts for learning French. It has a massive library with hundreds of bite sized 15 minute French lessons. Each podcast season is sorted by difficulty level and includes two show hosts who help guide you through the language.
4) Watch French Movies and TV
Watching French movies and television shows a fun way to expose you to the language and pick up new words and phrases along the way. Once you have some basic French under your belt watching TV and movies in French will help you see how words and phrases are used in everyday speech.
Depending on your level in the language you can switch between using French or English subtitles. Though I highly recommend sticking to French subtitles. There is an app called FluentU that lets you watch French TV and movies clips specifically for language learning. It lets you instantly switch between English and French subtitles. It even lets you click on the subtitles to see a word’s definition, example sentences, and pronunciation.
5) Read French stories and books
Most French learners want to learn the language in order to speak it. As a result they tend to focus more on listening and speaking skills. While this isn’t bad, you want to be careful not to neglect reading in French. Being able to read French will allow you to interact with the language on a deeper level.
Once you get to an upper beginner or intermediate level, reading will help you learn lots of new French words much faster than you would if all you did was speak the language. Just make sure whatever you’re reading is appropriate for your level.
6) Practice French consistently
Like I said before, consistency is one of the biggest factors that determines your success in learning French. 15 minutes of French practice everyday of the week will yield better results than 2 hours spent practicing one day a week.
Planning out a learning schedule and setting aside a specific time of day for studying French is a great way to help stay consistent. When you start out learning a foreign language it’s tempting to try and schedule huge chunks of time to study and practice. In my experience this is a recipe for disappointment and discouragement.
Aim low when planning out your study schedule. Shoot for a target that’s easy to hit. Again, 15 minutes a day is probably better than 2 hours per day. If you try to start out learning French two hours a day you’re highly likely to get burnt out and become frustrated. 15 minutes on the other hand is much more doable and will leave you with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
7) Book online lessons with a French tutor
Online lessons with a French tutor will be beneficial for you no matter what level your French is at. A good French teacher will start beginners on the right path by teaching them things like correct pronunciation and relevant vocabulary.
Teachers can also help intermediate and advanced learners by helping them identify their weak points in the language and giving practical ways to strengthen their skills. iTalki is one of the most popular language learning sites for online lessons. You’ll find native French teachers from around the world on iTalki. As a bonus the site also has a large community of language learners and is also a great way to find a language exchange partner.
8) Visit a French speaking country
Visiting a French speaking country can be the ultimate immersion experience. Nothing beats seeing for yourself how French is used by native speakers in their everyday lives. Not to mention you’ll get to take in the cultural and historical richness surrounding the French language.
9) Listen to French music
Even if you’re completely new to the language, listening to music can be a fun and simple way to further immerse yourself in French. You don’t have to understand the lyrics to enjoy French music. As your French skills improve you can use songs to learn vocabulary. Lyricstraining is a free site that lets you listen to French songs and test your listening comprehension skills in real time. If you’re a music lover it’s a resource you definitely want to check out!
10) Don’t give up on learning French!
Every language learner hits plateaus and feels discouraged from time to time. Stick to learning French long enough and you will too. The important thing is that you don’t give up. It might feel like you’re not making any progress. But it’s important to remmber that your progress in a new language won’t always be noticeable. Endure the valleys and you will reach mountain peaks. Remember consistency is key!
Tips to learn french
How do I teach myself French?
Find a good course that teaches listening, speaking, and reading in French (ideally one that uses immersion). As you work through the course, practice what you learn with native speakers. This is more or less the basic recipe for successfully learning French on your own. If you get stuck it’s perfectly okay to ask a tutor or language learning partner for help.
What is the most effective way to learn French?
The most effective way to learn French is immersion. Immersion doesn’t necessarily mean moving to France and forcing yourself to only speak French (good luck with that if that’s what you decide to do though). Effective language immersion follows a tier or level based approach.
Yes you want to use only French when learning the language, but the French you interact with should be tailored to your level. Immersion for a beginner will look a lot different than immersion for an advanced learner. This is why we recommend courses that use an immersion based approach. These courses break down the language into smaller, more digestible parts based on your level.
How long does it take to really learn French?
If you’re a native English speaker and you want to learn French fluently, expect to spend anywhere from 6 months to a year and half learning French. The exact amount of time it will take you to really learn French will depend on how much time you spend each day learning the language, and how consistent you are with your studies.
Is Duolingo effective for French?
Duolingo French is a good way to learn basic vocabulary and grammar, but don’t expect to be fluent or even conversational in French after completing all the levels in the app. Duolingo follows a word for word translation method for teaching French. You’re never required to produce your own phrases or sentences and the listening practice exercises leave much to be desired.
The app is mostly free (with ads), and you can use it to pick up new words and review any basic French you already know. But if your goal is to speak French with real people, you’ll need a lot more than just Duolingo.
Which is better for learning French, Babbel or Duolingo?
Between these two apps I would pick Duolingo French, mainly because it has a free version that lets you work through the whole course. To access Babbel you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription.
Both Babbel and Duolingo use a similar method to teach French. They teach you grammar and vocabulary by showing you English translations. You then work through a series of exercises or quizzes that prompt you to translate French words and phrases (sometimes pictures are used too). This method isn’t great for speaking French or developing your listening skills. Overall neither Babbel or Duolingo is my first choice for learning French.
Can I learn French in a year?
The short answer is yes, you can learn French in a year. According to the US State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI), the average native English Speaker will need 24 to 30 weeks to learn French proficiently. This assumes around 600 to 750 hours of classroom study during that time. This roughly translates to around 3.5 to 4.5 hours per day everyday learning French.
Given that 26 weeks is half a year exactly, you could divide the time spent studying French each day by two and study for a little over an hour each day to learn French in a year.
Can I learn French in 6 months?
Following the FSI’s guidelines, yes you can learn French in 6 months. Just be prepared to spend at least 3+ hours everyday if you want to reach fluency. If your goal is a lower level of proficiency (like conversational French for instance), then you can plan to spend less time each day learning French.
How can I learn French in 30 days?
The answer to this question depends a lot on your learning goals. You can’t expect to be fluent in French in just 30 days. However you can expect to be conversational or literate in French by that time. If you want to learn French in 30 days it’s best to set a SMART goal and plan out your French learning around that.
For example if your goal is to be conversational, then you should focus more on learning French phrases and vocabulary relevant to the conversation you hope to have with native speakers. If your goal is to start reading French then you’ll want to focus more on grammar and reading French text as much as possible.
As you can see with this small comprehensive guide, there are different ways to approach how to learn French language. Do you want to converse in French? Learn to read so you can enjoy French books without translation? Are you planning to take a trip to a French speaking country? There are so many ways to learn French based on your ultimate learning objectives! No matter what your goals may be, experiencing a different language on your own terms is so liberating and makes you feel connected to the world. It will be a trial and error figuring out what method of French learning you find most beneficial, and the “best way” may well change as you progress! This is a path worth taking, and we are excited for you to take the first step!