WordReference is one of the best websites for single-word translations. It uses a combination of its own dictionaries and Collins’, depending on the language, and relies on professional translations rather than machine-translations. With each word you look up, you will receive multiple examples of how to use it, nuances of each meaning, and a list of how to incorporate it into multiple phrases. Whereas sites like Bab.la seem to have machine-translated examples that sound quite random at times, WordReference’s examples can be applied directly to your everyday conversation.
You can also find conjugation tables and the Collins COBUILD English Usage dictionary, which shows you how to use individual English words correctly — through its explanations, English learners will be able to differentiate between words that are easily confused (such as ‘current’ and ‘currant’). If the explanations don’t make sense, you can ask questions in the WordReference Language Forum — there you will find an active community of language learners discussing language learning topics.
Unfortunately, not all words have audio pronunciation, but those that do can be played back at different speeds and with different accents (depending on the language).
Although WordReference is a thorough resource, SpanishDict is probably a better option for Spanish learners, and Pleco is the only dictionary you will ever need for Chinese. Linguee is also similar to WordReference but specializes in formal language, and Forvo has millions of words pronounced by native speakers in hundreds of languages.
TV5 is a television network with an endless supply of French media for consumption, and although the website may be difficult to navigate for a beginner, it has extensive free content for French learners that will be worth the struggle. Under the tab “Langue française” you will find high-quality (and free!) articles, games, exercises, and videos to help you explore the French language. Beginners can pair the site with the Readlang Chrome extension and be off studying in no time!
If you want to have a structured exploration of the site, you can choose a learning path under “Exercises” or click on “Je Découvre” to receive a set of articles and videos every day. The articles are fun and engaging — they focus on specific topics, such as contradictory words in the French language (“J’ai appris à jouer le piano” VS “J’ai appris à ma mère les règles du jeu”) or how to use different homophones. If that’s not enough to convince you to visit the site, you can also find 500 free books of classic French literature for your reading pleasure.
*For some reason, the video links sometimes redirect you to a page that does not contain the video you have chosen, but hopefully this will be fixed in the future.
Podcast Francais Facile
The goal of Podcast Français Facile is to support learners in passing from level A1 to A2 of the DELF. Beginners who use this resource can probably develop a solid foundation of basic French and confidently move on to A2 without worrying about gaps in their knowledge. At the same time, the website and beginner podcasts may be difficult to navigate for an absolute beginner, as everything is 100% in French. It can also be confusing seeing the introductory videos introduce the most basic vocabulary words, but use more complicated words to describe the concept. Nevertheless, with the help of a dictionary (maybe Readlang for the text) you can have access to tons of free content.
Although some of the pages are just lists of verb conjugations, most of them are interactive. There are multiple explanations and exercises in the lessons to help solidify your understanding. The Intermediate section has transcripts with links to specific grammar or vocabulary exercises, and you can organize the dialogue section by grammar topic. Some of the exercises support translations into other languages, such as English, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, and Arabic.
Besides the basic lessons and dialogues, there are also reading comprehension activities, videos on phonetics, dictations, and a free A1 and A2 DELF test.
Overall, Podcast Français Facile is an excellent resource for beginners, and it’s 100% free!
Similar to Dreaming Spanish and Comprehensible Russian, Alice teaches French using comprehensible input. With this method, she speaks at a level just above that of the learner: you do not have to understand every word, but through gestures and images, you can gradually increase your comprehension abilities. Alice’s YouTube channel has hundreds of high-quality videos that tell stories, tour you around different countries, and teach about francophone culture.
Alice has also developed a self-paced video course for total beginners to later beginners. It contains transcripts and audio files, with bonus stories for all levels. She does not teach the nitty-gritty details of French grammar — instead, you will learn through listening, similar to the way you learned your first language as a child. Remember that this method is not for everyone, so if you don’t enjoy it, there are other ways to learn a language. Watch some of her YouTube videos to see if this style suits you, and if so, then subscribe to her French learner’s community to gain access to the course. She also sells a series of beginner books that you can enjoy without a subscription.
For comprehensible input at the intermediate level, Hélène from Wandering French will teach you about the Quebecois language and culture while touring the world, while Hugo will continue to teach you about French culture in innerFrench
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.
Yabla is a language-learning platform that uses videos with interactive subtitles and language games to help users learn a language. It’s currently available on the web and for iOS, with an Android app in development. Its videos are of varying difficulty levels and types, and are either sourced from the internet or originally produced, but all videos use native speakers.
Lingodeer may not be as well known as other language learning apps, but it’s actually better and cheaper than most of them. You’ll practice the language by completing lots of different types of exercises. They also include plenty of grammar explanations and opportunities to review what you’ve studied. All in all, it’s one of the better options for getting started learning a language.
The Language Transfer’s courses approach language learning with what has been coined as “The Thinking Method’. These audio courses serve as a great introduction to the nine languages currently available. They go into lots of depth on how each language works, teaching you all of the main grammar points and giving you the tools needed to learn independently and intuitively. For beginners looking to learn a language, these free courses are an effective and efficient way to start your journey.
Beelinguapp makes it easier to read and listen to interesting content in a number of languages. You’ll find short stories, news, fairy tales, music, and more. Their side-by-side reading functionality highlights the sentence in the language you’re learning, as well as in a language you’re familiar with. The karaoke feature makes it easy to follow the audio with the written text. Some of the content and features are available for free, but there are also premium plans to unlock more.
Learn French with Alexa
Subscribing to French With Alexa grants access to both audio and video lessons, quizzes, worksheets, and even live online French lessons where you can ask Alexa questions directly through a chat function. The program provides a course outline detailing 40 core lessons from levels zero to C2. Each core lesson has a number of supplementary videos and exercises to support them.
Given the lack of interaction, you will probably need to supplement your studies with oral and written practice through language exchange or tutoring (check out iTalki and Langcorrect for some options!).
Alexa’s approachable demeanor and decades of experience teaching French make her a good resource for those wanting a slightly more affordable alternative to in-person French classes. You can also check out her YouTube channel for some free content.