French

Best Way to Learn French: Logical, Practical, & Useful Tips

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.

Conclusion

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!

27 Best Online French Courses: We’ve Tried Them

the best online courses for learning french banner

If you’re interested in learning French and are looking for the perfect online course, you may have noticed that it’s not an obvious choice. In general, foreign language courses have a variety of options but per language they can vary. This page will help you primarily of the best online French classes or courses. Fortunately, the numbers are on your side — there are more online French courses to choose from every day. There are so many, in fact, that sifting through them can quickly become overwhelming. Whether you’re looking for a French crash course, how to teach yourself French, or online French classes, we got you covered here. 

We’ve taken the time to go through the extensive list of resources we’ve tried, and some we haven’t, to find the best of the best and highlight what makes them so special. Only the resources that we’ve rated at least 3.5 stars have made this list. Our list is compiled of French learning sites, apps, courses, classes, and fun!

There’s simply no one-size-fits-all course that will be best for all learners. Your learning style, interests, past experiences, and goals all have a say in what course will work best for you. This is exactly why we’ve created this list, to provide learners with the best information to get started in the right direction. 

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Lingoda

Quick Review

Summary:

Lingoda is an online language learning platform where you can take private or group classes at any time of the day. They offer lessons in Spanish, German, French, and English. There are a large number of lessons available for everyone from absolute beginners to more advanced levels. It’s a good option to get the structure of a course with the guidance of a teacher, at an affordable price.

Price

There are lots of different plans available.

For group classes, it is $380 a month, which gives you access to 40 class subscriptions.

For private classes, the plan is $760 a month.

There are also “marathon” plans for three, six, or twelve months that offer lower per-class rates and a chance to earn cashback if you attend 90% of your classes.

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Speechling

Quick Review

4.3 

Summary:

Speechling is a website and app that makes it easy to improve your speaking skills in several languages. The free version is an incredbily valuable resource that makes it easy to practice mimicking native speakers. The Unlimited Plan provides unlimited corrections of your recordings by a teacher.

Quality

Speachling makes it easy to improve your speaking rhythm and pronunciation.

Thoroughness

Lots of different ways to practice speaking.

Value

The free version is better than most paid resources and the paid version provides outstanding value.

Price

The Forever Free Plan is complete free. A monthly subscription to the Unlimited Plan costs $19.99 per month.

Click the link to save 10% on Speechling’s Unlimited Plan.

Languages: American English, British English, French, Latin American Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Chinese, German, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese.

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Best Apps For Learning French: We’ve Tested Over 40 Of Them

Interested in learning French? Your options for study are many. Fortunately for those that require the convenience afforded by digital methods, this includes a great number of apps.

We’ve tested a ton of these resources ourselves and have seen that the quality of apps out there is as varied as their number. This list attempts to highlight some of the best in specific categories but makes no claim to be exhaustive. Instead, it will hopefully help you narrow your options and find the ones that fit your needs.

Courses

Best Course for Speaking and Listening Skills: Pimsleur

Best Podcast-tStyle Lessons: FrenchPod101

Best for Finding a Tutor: italki

Best Interactive Courses: Babbel

Vocabulary

Best for Learning Vocabulary Easily: Memrise

Best for Customizable Vocabulary Practice: Anki

Best for Learning Vocabulary From Context: Lingvist

Best Free Way to Learn Vocabulary From Context: Clozemaster

Best Dictionary Apps: Wordreference and Linguee

Reading and Listening

Best for Interesting Content Across All Levels: Newsdle French

Best Audiobooks for French Learners: French Today

Best for French Immersion: Francais authentique

Best for Reading Practice: LingQ

Best Free Reading Content: Manga Method

Best French Radio App: Radio France

Speaking and Writing

Best for Getting Feedback on Pronunciation: Speechling

Best for Getting Feedback on Writing: italki

Best for Getting Answers to Quick Questions: HiNative

Tutors and Language Exchange

Best for Finding a Tutor: italki

Best for Language Exchanges: Tandem

top overall french apps

FrenchPod101

Podcasts are an increasingly popular method for learning a language. They’re accessible and have serious potential for providing ample listening and reading practice with the use of transcripts.

FrenchPod101 uses podcast-style lessons to deliver comprehensive lessons in French through material that’s engaging and relevant. A strength of this resource is that it also teaches a good deal of cultural information, useful for any learner of French.

The resource is updated continually, which means there is always fresh material available. The mobile app might not be quite as good as the desktop version, but you can still use this one on the go. Read the full review of FrenchPod1010 here.

Save 25% on a subscription to FrenchPod101 by using the coupon ‘ALLLANGUAGERESOURCES’.

Visit FrenchPod101

Pimsleur

**Pimsleur is running an ALR exclusive discount (up to 20% off!) on 3-month subscriptions. Must go through our link to see the discount**

Feel like studying grammar is a waste of time and just want to get speaking? That’s this app’s guiding philosophy. With Pimsleur, you’ll get speaking right away. The focus with this app is very much on acquiring communicative skills rather than building foundational skills.

Speaking practice is lacking in a lot of resources, and that makes this one refreshing. The Pimsleur app is also easy to use and visually appealing, which is a plus. That said, the practice activities do get repetitive. Read our full review here.

Try Pimsleur for 7 days Free

italki

While italki is primarily a place to go for one-on-one lessons with teachers, it’s also got some really cool community features that are available for free in the app. In the Exercise section of the app, users can submit pieces of writing on any subject they want or respond to prompts. The writing will be visible to other users on the platform that can offer corrections and feedback. The people offering feedback are usually native speakers in the language you’re learning or at least highly proficient.

This is one of the best ways to get writing feedback because it involves humans. It’s free to use, and you can repay the favor by correcting someone else’s writing. We wrote a full review of italki here. Right now get a $10 credit with your first purchase.

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Oxford Dictionaries

4.2 
Price: From free to €16.99, depending on the language

Resource Image

Oxford Dictionary has published numerous bilingual dictionaries over the years, many of which are not designed to be comprehensive. While some are “complete” dictionaries, others are called “mini”, “concise”, “essential” or even “shorter”.

Even the smaller ones are pretty thorough, however. The Oxford Mini Greek dictionary contains 40,000 words and phrases, many of which also contain multiple translations. It’s a lot shorter than the Oxford Hindi dictionary, at 100,000 entries, or the New Oxford American English Dictionary at 350,000 – but it’s still got a wider vocabulary than the average English speaker.

You can purchase the books themselves, but most learners will prefer the convenience of the apps with their regular updates and learner-friendly features. Search Autocomplete, Fuzzy Filter, Wild Card and Voice Search help you find words you don’t know how to spell. Favourites help you save useful words and phrases, while Word of the Day will introduce you to new words. Some dictionaries also contain audio recordings and thesauruses. And the freemium Oxford Dictionary with Translator will translate words and paragraphs to and from 14 languages.

For some languages, learners already have plenty of free, thorough dictionaries available to them. Spanish learners, for example, will probably prefer to combine the free apps SpanishDict and Diccionario RAE (Google Play, App Store). Mandarin Chinese learners will likely find Pleco more useful. But for some languages, these dictionaries may well be the most thorough and reliable ones available.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

 

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Forget About the Paywalls: Learn French for Free

Until now, you may have been saving up to pay for your first French class. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a subscription to a language learning app that keeps showing up in your news feed. Or, perhaps you’ve given up all hopes of learning French because it will cost too much.

What if we told you that you could learn French without touching your wallet? That you can start your learning journey today, for free?

It’s true.

With our experience testing hundreds of resources, we know that it’s possible—and we’ll show you how. You won’t need to put aside money for monthly payments or splurge on a new textbook; all you need is your motivation and a digital device.

So keep reading and let’s explore a ton of high-quality resources to keep your French studies free!

Choose Your Resources

If you want to learn French for free, you may need to adopt an eclectic approach to French resources. What is limited access in one may be free in another, so don’t get discouraged if you hit a paywall.

We’ve made sure to include resources that tackle reading, writing, speaking, and listening. You can mix and match, but at the beginner and intermediate levels you may want to establish an overarching structure with step-by-step courses.

We’ll first introduce some course options, then offer some podcasts, YouTube channels, and reading tools to enrich your studies.

Next we’ll point you towards a plethora of practice activities to refine your skills and some reference sites for when you need a quick answer for grammar, pronunciation, nuances and more.

It’s often more fun to learn with others, so we’ve also handpicked some community sites for language exchanges and writing and speaking feedback.

Finally, you’ll find out how to get some paid resources for free and assess your French level based on the CEFR scale.

And don’t forget, if you sign up to be an app tester on the ALR website, you can get free access to paid resources in exchange for your honest opinions.

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29 Carefully Curated YouTube Channels for Learning French

Though French is a popular second language, it can be difficult to find high-quality YouTube videos appropriate to your level. We hope to solve that problem with this carefully curated list of our 28 favourite YouTube channels.

Whether you’re a beginner or almost fluent, we’re sure you’ll find something here to enrich your French studies.

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36 Great French Podcasts For Any Learner

Understanding spoken French at a natural speed can be a daunting task. After years of study, you may find yourself listening to the news and feeling overwhelmed by each wave of new words. Or, you may feel confident understanding one French speaker, then feel completely lost with someone else.

Whatever the case, podcasts are an excellent resource to get you used to a variety of French-speaking voices and make sure you rely on your ears rather than your eyes for understanding.

Below are 36 recommendations for French podcasts, tested by us and organized by level for your listening enjoyment. Choose one or many to accompany you on your French learning journey.

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News In Slow French

Quick Review

4.5 

Summary:

News in Slow French offers three different levels of content (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) with lots of different features for each. I’m a huge fan of what’s included at the intermediate level but a bit less enthusiastic about the content at the beginner and advanced levels. That’s not to say those levels are bad, they aren’t by any means, but the material available for intermediate level learners is really fantastic. Much more than simply current events narrated at a slower pace, News in Slow French is comprensive, engaging, fun, and effective.

Quality

It often doesn’t feel like you’re studying without sacrificing on quality.

Thoroughness

The depth and unique manner in which they teach grammar and expressions is really impressive.

Value

Although it’s not cheap, there’s more content than you may initially realize.

Price

There’s a 7-day free trial for new subscribers, then the price is $19.90/month. There’s also an option to prepay for up to 12 months at a time, which doesn’t affect the monthly price.

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