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There are hundreds of reasons why you might want to learn French. Love, adventure, curiosity, the pursuit of knowledge. Whatever your reason, you’ll be in need of the best resources to maximize your chances at becoming fluent.
Let’s get one thing straight. Learning French can be done on any budget, using as few or as many resources as necessary. It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario, but rather something you have to tailor to your preferred learning methods.
As you’ll soon find out, there are tons of options that all promise they’ll get you fluent in no time. To make things easier, I’ve curated my absolute favorites before we get into the main article. The best part? It’s a five step process!
First, download Babbel. It’s a great initiation into French, especially when coupled with the Pimsleur course. Use Pimsleur to build your listening and conversational skills. Then head to Rocket Languages for some straightforward, interactive online learning.
Next, grab yourself a French speaking guru on Italki, a digital platform that connects tutors with students from just $4 a lesson. Last but not least, listen to entertaining podcasts. My favorites are Coffee Break French and French Blabla. And just for fun, check out the YouTube channel Comme une Francaise for creative ways to learn French online.
With that said, let’s explore all the best options!
Best apps to learn French
If your goal is to achieve fluency, downloading some apps to learn French is a great starting point. But what’s the best app to learn French? Well, that depends. Here are just some of our favorites. For our full list, read: 14 best apps to learn French
Duolingo: Duolingo is a favorite for many because it’s free, and promises to teach you a language by using it for just five minutes a day. It introduces vocabulary and rudimentary grammar concepts straightforwardly. However, it’s limited in useful content.
Babbel: Heaps of content at a reasonable price, and a great introductory course to learn French. More content than Duolingo, and delivers results quickly and effectively. A beginner’s must-have.
LinQ: The most enjoyable language app on the market. Get personal as you learn French with LinQ. This app equips you with a personalized and stylized approach to language learning. Create your own flashcard deck, track your progress, and have fun dressing up your avatar as you improve!
WordDive: WordDive was designed by Finnish language teachers for visual learners. If you prefer pictures over words, this is a great option. You’ll also learn to speak intuitively: there is rarely one “right” answer to questions.
Mosalingua: Turned off by subscription payments? Pay the one-off sum of five bucks for unlimited access, including offline, to French lessons with Mosalingua. Mostly useful for learning conversational skills such as pronunciation and improving your vocabulary.
PixWords: This word game app is an entertaining way to test yourself. Mix up your methods and learn French the fun way by completing crosswords and word puzzles!
Best French language courses & programs
Next, courses and programs. Here’s how to get access to the depth apps can’t provide.
Rocket Languages: Get interactive audio lessons and maximize your potential by learning correct French pronunciation. Excellent for beginners or intermediates, as each lesson comes in 20 minute segments. Also comes with access to their own app!
Pimsleur: Use Pimsleur to get fail-proof audio lessons on everything from grammar to conversational skills. Plus, Pimsleur uses technology to help you intuitively learn French, so it’s an great choice for interactive learners.
Comme Une Francaise: Géraldine Lepère looks like a French Anne Hathaway, and will help you embody your own je ne sais quoi. She has a range of classes, some free and some you need to pay for. Combine them with her popular YouTube videos and sound like a native in no time at all!
Fluent City: Delivers high quality tuition catered especially to your level. Classes are delivered via Zoom and your tutor is a qualified native or fluent speaker. Receive one-on-one tuition or as part of a small, like-minded group. Package bundles start at 20 hours tuition for 399 USD.
Lingoda: Similar to Fluent City, but is a little more flexible with regards to time. You schedule your own lessons, and you can either be taught en seul (on your own) or with a group.
Français Authentique: These lessons are all delivered in French, so this is for intermediate to advanced French learners only. The course puts particular emphasis on improving spoken French, which is great if you’re a confident reader, writer or listener.
Best podcasts to learn French
Absorb French easily and effectively by tuning into the best French podcasts on Spotify. Bonus: they’re free! Need more? Read 17 Best French Podcasts for Beginners to Advanced Learners
Coffee Break French To Go: My personal favorite French podcast. Explore France without leaving your house by tuning into hosts, Marc and Pierre-Benoit’s, podcast, Coffee Break French. You’ll learn French vocabulary, cultural references and improve your listening skills!
French 101: Beginners will love these short but sweet episodes. Titles and much of the content are in English, but with interspersed French words and phrases.
Fluidité: Intermediate and advanced French learners, here’s a challenging but gripping podcast option for you. Fabien Sausset, a French teacher, covers everything from the clichés of Emily in Paris to the history of French-speaking cities like Québec.
French Blabla: Use this podcast to increase your fluency and to take a break from formal “lessons”. Each episode only lasts around five minutes, and disguises “boring” topics like grammar by making them fun and interesting. Check out my favorite episode, Wigs (it’s all about Marie Antoinette’s unachievable hairdos).
News in Slow French: Stay informed but learn French at the same time. Keeping up to date with news in French is a great way to expand your vocabulary and put your lessons into practice.
French Podcast Francais avec Pierre: This podcast is a great option to fit into your ten minute coffee break. Learn what mistakes you’re making and how to correct them, and test your knowledge. This series had a “Grand Quiz de l’Été” which you can do by yourself or challenge a fellow French learner.
Best websites to find French tutors
Even if you download all the best apps, listen to every French podcast out there and read all the books, you might hit a dead end. That’s when you know it’s time to step it up and get some French lessons from a tutor. These days, you can do this without even leaving your house.
Read more about our favorites here: 12 best websites to find French tutors online
Italki: For finding a tutor you actually enjoy talking to, learning from, and at a decent hourly rate, there can only be Italki. This website and app will connect you with a tutor of your choice. Your criteria matters, and regardless of budget, level or location, you’ll find the perfect tutor. Lessons are held digitally (Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp, etc.) so convenience is top priority. Want to know more? Read our review! Already convinced? Sign up now!
Preply: Need more discipline and structure to help you learn French? Try Preply. Similar to Italki, Preply hooks you up with an online tutor of your choice. The tuition you receive from Preply tutors is primarily based on specific French lessons such as grammar, rather than improving your conversational skills.
Lingoda: Lingoda takes traditional language classes and makes them digital. Classes are held via Zoom, and there’ll be a maximum of five people on the call including yourself and your tutor. You also get access to all materials used during the class if you need extra practice.
Rype: Total beginner? So are 85% of users who use Rype. Rype offers one-on-one tuition online, delivered by professional teachers. Your teacher will assess your needs and tailor their lessons to suit you. As well as French lessons for beginners, Rype caters for multiple levels of expertise, so intermediate or advanced learners can benefit too.
Best books to learn French
Next, it’s time to hit the books. There’s nothing wrong with getting the basics from apps or podcasts, but books can teach you in the depth you need to achieve fluency.
Here are some of our favorites – for our full list, read 20 best books to learn French
Practice Makes Perfect: Basic French (2nd edition): This book offers structured lessons in a concise, step-by-step manner. Each chapter covers a different topic, and leads into the next segment logically. It’s the ultimate French book for beginners. Useful tip: It also comes with a handy app to extend your studies.
The Useful French Textbook: A top notch example of a great French grammar book. It’s effective, and encompasses all you need to know. Not just for beginners, either – intermediate and advanced learners will also benefit from the grammar tables and pronunciation guides.
Les Exercices De Grammaire: Those who are great at remembering vocabulary but struggling to learn French grammar will love this French grammar guide. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (the guide is in French).
French with Ease Assimil: Learn conversational French and get progressively more difficult grammar lessons as you improve. Use this book for your serious study sessions (around half an hour to forty minutes) for comprehensive, cohesive lessons.
French Short Stories for Beginners: Storytelling is a creative way to rewire your brain to think in French. Listen to these well-written stories and answer the follow-up questions at the end to give yourself a challenge!
French Today (Audibook): Learn at your own pace by selecting a French audio guide to suit your proficiency level. Use this book in lieu of a tutor if you’re determined to learn French by self-teaching, or if you’re an auditory learner.
Best websites to learn French
Quit scrolling on social media for a few minutes each day and make these websites your new go-to boredom busters. These are the best sites to learn French for students of all levels!
Digital Dialects: It looks like this website popped up the same time as Google but don’t be put off by its simplicity! These quizzes and games are fun for kids and adults alike, and can be done in a few minutes each day.
Sporcle: Fellow quiz-lovers will have already heard of Sporcle, but if you haven’t, here’s why it’s great. Taking these timed quizzes and puzzles will help cement key vocabulary in your head, and have fun while you learn.
Reddit/r/French: Reddit used to have a “weird” rep but today it’s all about community diversity. The r/French and r/France subreddits are a great place to find community advice. You don’t even have to post if you don’t want to, but users share interesting articles, podcast tips and questions daily.
Lawless French: This website requires you to sign up but it’s 100% free. They post fascinating articles, writing challenges, and quizzes. It’s also seasonal so you can learn about cultural nuances in French, everything from noël to Hanoucca and much more besides.
Oui in France: Learning French because you want to move to France? Read this blog to find out about French culture, lifestyle quirks and linguistic gems. Personal favorite post: why French people don’t like to hug (and why there’s no one word for “hug”).
Best YouTube channels to learn French
Let YouTube do the talking! YouTube is a great resource for learning French. Whether you need lessons or want to hear French spoken naturally outside the context of learning, here are the best YouTube channels to learn French!
Français Authentique: Here’s a channel every intermediate French learner should watch. Johan’s videos touch on subjects such as cultural references, idioms and short lessons to speed up your progress.
Comme une Francaise: Yeah, it’s the French Anne Hathaway lookalike, Géraldine Lepère again! You don’t have to pay for this great content, though. She gives you 10 minute lessons on everything from common expressions, grammar breakdowns and the history of French. I love this channel!
Inner French: The YouTube channel sidekick to the popular podcast, Inner French. All of us struggle with different aspects of learning French. Whether it’s grammar or pronunciation, Inner French has your back. The friendly and inviting host debunks myths, and gives you tips and tricks to overcome easily made errors.
PL Cloutier: French isn’t only spoken in France, so if you’re interested in learning Canadian French, here’s one for you. I’d recommend this channel to intermediate and advanced learners (he speaks incredibly fast). However, this is a great taster channel to hear Québecois and how it differs from mainstream French.
Best FREE resources to learn French
A small budget shouldn’t, and won’t, prevent you from learning a language. It’s what you put into it that counts, so here are some of the best free resources to learn French!
Free apps to learn French:
As previously mentioned, Duolingo is a free app that will help you learn the very basics. Upgrading to the advertisement free version doesn’t make much of a difference anyway.
Memrise is another great option, as they teach you French using memes (fun, but again, not as informative as you might want).
HelloTalk makes finding that digital pen pal even easier. Get matched with another French learner and practice speaking French. This is an excellent service since it corrects your spelling, grammar and syntax, and you can make a new friend!
Free French podcasts:
All the podcasts we listed here are available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts free of charge.
Free French classes:
For fun and entertaining free French classes online, check out The French Experiment. This website caters for beginners and is a great starting point if money’s tight.
BBC French is another great resource for people starting out learning French – there are grammar exercises, audio lessons and much more completely free.
Free French books:
Buying your own copy is obviously great for the long-haul, but some grammar books and vocabulary builders might be available at your local library. Some libraries even offer rented PDF versions which can be delivered to your tablet.
The best way to learn French online
Everyone online claims they’re able to teach you the fastest way to learn French. But in all honesty, it all comes down to you. Your goals, personality, time scale etc. I studied French for five years during middle and high school, but if I could relearn it using methods I know work better for me today I would do it in a heartbeat.
Here are my top five tips for learning French quickly and effectively.
Mix up your methods: Don’t assume that because you’re an auditory learner, audiobooks and podcasts are your limit. Sit in on a few classes and give every method a go. Then you’ll know for sure what works.
Get a study buddy: You need to practice talking to someone in French at least weekly. Daily if possible. Tell them when you want to be corrected/interrupted. Don’t get embarrassed if that’s all the time.
Set achievable goals: I knew what I had to learn to pass my exams, but after that, I had no idea what to do to advance my French. I set a goal of being able to read one of my favorite books by the end of the year. It was tough, but rewarding.
Try to think in French, not English: This is very valuable advice. Instead of trying to translate your native language to French, try to make sentences from the words you already know. This will build up over time as you learn vocabulary, and you’ll learn much faster because of it.
Stay motivated: Incorporate your French lessons into your day, especially things you enjoy. I love walking, so I listen to podcasts at the same time. You’re more likely to complete lessons if you enjoy what you’re doing instead of dreading them! I also changed the language on my video games to help me learn French. This was especially helpful playing Sims. If you’re a gamer, try it!
Best TV shows and movies on Netflix to teach you French
Finally, on the subject of staying motivated, here are some French movies and tv shows to watch if you’re running out of steam. It does count as learning, as long as it isn’t the only way you try to learn. Plus, you’ll hear tons of slang and phrases you won’t get from books. Enjoy!
Les Aventures des Tintin: A classic and personal favorite of mine. I was really surprised to learn that Tintin uses the “vous” form even when talking to criminals! I guess he’s just polite to everyone.
Night on Earth: If you have a passion for animals, Night on Earth is available with French audio in some countries. Learn what creatures are called en Francais and cozy up with earth’s nocturnal wanderers.
Nailed It! France: Don’t even ask how I ended up binge-watching this, but I was somehow hooked from the trailer. It’s trash tv, but the best kind. It’s a baking show that follows some less than awsome bakers. Cake and laughs, need I say more?
The Hook Up Plan: You can tell by the title that this is a slightly cheesy rom com tv series, but I laughed so hard when watching this. One of the characters has a guinea pig called Moules-Frites. Hilarious. Awesome for the days you feel like taking a break from your studies.
I hope this guide has been useful to my fellow French learners out there. Remember, we never stop learning and improving, so share this guide to help someone out! If you’ve got more resources we haven’t discovered yet, let us know in the comments. Bonne chance!