Today, people put more value into amassing experiences than possessions.
Thus if follows that more and more minds, eager for extraordinary encounters, see language learning as a pathway to broaden their intellectual and cultural horizons, and select French as their language of choice.
And for good reason!
- France is spoken on five of the world's seven continents
- It is the official language for 29 countries, and a further 8 territories
- It is also considered the official language of international diplomacy
- French is considered a gateway to learning other romance languages
Besides those enticing rationales, you might consider the fact that French is the second-most taught language in our schools behind Spanish; more students are sitting French A Levels than German or Italian exams.
We'll disregard the fact that there has been a drop, of late, in the number of French A levels being sat, and focus on the keen students who see the value in being bilingual.
Speaking of bilingualism...
Oh, the benefits one can derive from the ability to communicate in another language!
From a possible bump in salary to staving off dementia, flexing your learning muscles in that manner yields amazing advantages!
Are you suitably impressed? Are you enthused at the thought of adventure, even if the experience is literally all in your mind?
Should we get on with providing tools for you to learn French with?
Best French Learning Websites
A recent BBC article investigated the postulate that Centennials, the generation born 1996 and later, just might be the most multilingual of all, simply because of the hyper-connectivity they enjoy.
Chat apps, social media, even the vast expanse of cyber-space and all it has to offer makes our youngest learners ultimately connected.
Contrast their accessibility to global information with language learners one hundred years ago, who had to take very formal steps in order to learn a different tongue: purchase textbooks and other learning materials, submit to the classroom experience and maybe even engage a tutor...
You could still engage a tutor to learn French with: Superprof has over 3000 French tutors just waiting for you to contact them!
Oftentimes, it was only the well-to-do or outright wealthy who indulged in learning French; as a part of belonging to high society or because they were the only ones who could afford going abroad to semester in a French school.
Today's world rejects such class distinctions, at least as far as education goes. These days, anyone can study French, go abroad, even matriculate at a fine university in Paris or Grenoble.
Or, you could just stay on our lovely island and make use of the best websites to learn French.
Bonjour de France is a one-stop site to help Britons learn French.
Their welcome page is structured according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language, or CEFRL.
That entails a breakdown into degrees of language proficiency, with A1 denoting beginners and C2 indicating fluency at native speaker level.
The first challenge on the Bonjour page is for you to declare your level of French: are you an intermediate speaker of French – level A2, or can you manage most daily tasks, such as shopping, by yourself?
That ability would class you as B1, according to the CEFRL breakdown.
Once you have chosen your level of ability, you will be met with a series of learning tasks designed to lead you on a gentle but steady progression toward being fluent in French.
Besides the lessons boxed in on the centre of the page, you will find a further list that addresses specifics of language learning: vocabulary, verb conjugation, grammar, and even idiomatic expressions.
Pas besoin d'avoir la puce a l'oreille – no need for doubt with this French learning website!
Should you place more emphasis on your child(ren) learning French, you may direct yourself to Hello World, a language learning site designed specifically for young students.
In bite-sized portions, your petit étudiant may enjoy songs and games, learn from structured lessons, make use of built-in flashcards and even complete worksheets.
The traditional children's song, Alouette, features on this page, in which the plucking of a hapless lark is described in exquisite detail, sung to the accompanying words: truly a must-see!
Podcasts to Help You Learn French
In the Time of Yore, it may have been thought that the effective learning, true learning, as it were, could only be done in a quiet environment, seated at a desk, repeating after Teacher, and observing good posture all the while.
The Boomer generation may well remember memorising long passages to recite in front of the whole class and rote repetition of French grammar rules.
Obviously, that method of absorbing knowledge has some merit: after all, Boomers are not, on the whole, illiterate and dysfunctional when it comes to comprehension. Furthermore, it is still practiced in some parts of the world.
Such a teaching style does not represent the current trend in education.
Now, there are teaching tools for every learning style, and gauging one's study progress has little to do with standardised tests.
Besides, people these days are entirely too busy to devote a substantial portion of their day to sitting still and learning anything, let alone a second language.
So how does learning happen, for these ultra-busy neo-scholars?
On the go! You will find people in the tube or on the train, ear buds plugged in, listening intently. Or stuck in traffic, where those precious minutes are spent perhaps learning new words rather than fuming at road congestion.
Of course, we don't presume to know exactly what everyone is listening to, but according to a recent survey of the Apple store, educational downloads come in third, after gaming and business applications.
Where are people finding these language learning materials, then?
Here are some of the best French podcasts available to listen to.
Podcast Français Facile is especially targeted to the beginner French learner.
Clicking on the débutant tab reveals a treasure trove of short lessons for the absolute beginner, ready for download in MP3 format that will take you from the French alphabet through introductions and how to formulate a question.
With each installment, you can download and print the accompanying worksheet; to make notes on, or for future reference.
Going further on the home page, you may pick your CEFRL level for instruction more in keeping with what you have already learned.
NOTE: the French language proficiency system is called DELF, but its structure mirrors the setup of the more inclusive European framework discussed above.
On these more targeted pages, you will find topics that address grammatical aspects of the French language, such as the use of subjunctive mood and how to use the prenominal form correctly.
One note of caution on using this site: all of the text is in French. If you are just starting out in your language learning efforts, you may be put off by that language barrier... but we urge you to push past that discomfort, because the learning is about to get so good, here!
FrenchPod101 has compiled an impressive array of broadcast segments, again grouped according to CEFRL levels.
Upon registering with their site – it is free!, you will be asked to select your level.
Once that assertion is made, the range of topics presented will reflect your declared ability while subtly, innocuously building on to the French language skills you have already mastered.
As the creators of this site understand that not everyone learns the same way, there is no prescribed method of progression.
You can choose to start with Lesson 1, following through until completion of that study unit, or you can randomise your podcast selection, while still remaining within your intermediate level.
Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves increasing the intervals between learning and review.
This method features prominently in the Pimsleur language learning philosophy, among others.
FrenchPod101 makes use of this ideology throughout their French lessons online, along with other vocabulary building tools.
Additionally, you will be furnished a digital phrasebook in which to record all of your notes, as well as all of the words and phrases you will learn on your way to advanced French level.
Perhaps the best part of this site is the community forum. There, you can talk with language learners about tricky grammar points such as gender and irregular verbs, and discuss the finer points of language with study buddies.
They might even advance your French pronunciation!
As a bonus, they offer apps for your mobile devices, so you can keep the learning fun going even as you are on the move!
Best French Learning Apps for IPhone or IPad
By now, you surely know that there is a wealth of language learning websites and applications for learning on the go; some for a fee and some that are free.
And some that offer a teaser... limited free usage, with the promise of more meaty content, should you subscribe or hand over some cash.
Does the idiom you get what you pay for apply to learning French?
Can a quality, satisfactory learning experience come about only if your wallet is lightened?
We've found evidence to the contrary.
After scouring the 'Net and tirelessly trying app after app, we offer these few up, with no particular preference or endorsement.
Please note that each of these downloads are possible for either IPad or IPhone; you only need select which device to download them to.
So what are the best apps for learning French?
Memrise Language Learning
One of the coolest features of this app is object recognition: you snap a pic of anything you want, and the software will furnish a subtitle of its name, in French.
You can then save the labeled pic for future reference, perhaps even building a photographic French dictionary of life on your street!
Whew! In all of the excitement of presenting a truly great French learning tool, we got a little ahead of ourselves, detailing that feature! Let us back up now...
What do you really get by downloading this app?
Naturally, you will be invited to create an account, but it is free, and so are a lot of the learning tools.
From there, you might scroll through the posted topics. The top of the page consists of numbered lessons, ranging from introductions, all the way through the incomparable French slang and, of course, the idiom.
About a third of the way down the page, things start getting beguiling...
You might be interested in GCSE French vocabulary, for instance or, if you are just starting out, perhaps the 100 Most Spoken French Words might appeal.
You get to skip around, discover your own learning preferences and, above all, take it with you as you go!
There is a lot of fun to be had in learning French this way, and that is good because learning is done most effectively if it is enjoyed.
Another site that favours fun with fundamentals is MindSnacks.
These apps are famous for their alternative presentation of French learning materials, from quizzes to games; even their audio is clear as a bell!
If you need to build you vocabulary, perfect your spelling or learn new phrases, you can do so in an active and challenging way that will be sure to bring a smile to your face!
Do you enjoy gaming?
If so, you are most likely familiar with the game format that calls for successful completion of a quest before the next level can be unlocked.
So too do MindSnacks games operate. The only downside we could find is that you cannot customize your gaming experience.
For example: if you wish to review aspects of a past lesson you are no longer quite so confident about, you cannot incorporate that material into later lesson challenges.
Here again we revisit the spaced repetition ideology, and how beneficial it is to language learning!
Did you want to learn more about IPad/IPhone apps to learn French with?
Best Online Translators
In the course of your language learning, surely you will run upon instances when, occasionally, a word escapes you.
If that is the case, it is no cause for anxiety as far as your language abilities are concerned; it happens with startling frequently, especially at the outset of your journey, and if you are not in an immersion environment.
Rather than make a mad dash for your textbooks, vocabulary lists or flashcards, you may simply type the word you want into an online translator and, selecting French as the language to translate into, come up with le mot juste – the very word you were struggling to remember.
Such instances are considered forehead smacking moments, in case you were wondering.
Unfortunately, you may end up smacking your forehead for a completely different reason, should you attempt to process a French idiom through Google, Microsoft Translate or Babylon.
One might say that such utilities are useful for a quick, inofficial translation of a word or phrase, but might betray you in any more official capacity.
Let us illustrate our point with a simple phrase thousands of English tourists certainly have used when roaming the streets of Paris or Lille for the first time: Can you speak English?
Google and Babylon give us the formal pouvez-vous, Bing yields the decidedly informal parles-tu.
And therein lies the problem.
The English language is replete with double meaning words, words that serve more than one function, and a single pronoun – you, to denote one person or several.
And there is no distinction between formal and informal speech in our native language.
Another aspect of the French language that causes grief when using these international language translators is accents.
Should you type a French text that is missing its diacritical marks into such utilities, you are likely to be treated to a completely different meaning than what you were looking for.
What makes using these easy translators particularly difficult is that the French language has many words spelled the same, save for a cunningly placed accent, such as du – some, and dû, meaning anything from a debt to owing to.
If anything could confound a beginner language learner into giving up, it would be bad instruction or information.
For this reason, we would encourage you to take your English French translation needs elsewhere...
Depending on the one you select, you may find these online tools extremely helpful in translating even French phrases.
Reverso French English dictionary can translate business phrases and French idioms, as well as individual words.
What we love about this lexicon is that it proposes synonyms, antonyms, and provides sample sentences for any word you investigate.
Furthermore, it delves into grammatical gender, disclosing whether a word is masculine or feminine, and in some cases, will even help with the verb and adjective agreement!
You could get an incidental education in French language as well as culture with Reverso.
What if you have just discovered you have relatives in France or Belgium, and would like to trace your ancestry?
You would certainly need a more far-reaching translator. Perhaps a human would do the job better?
WorldLingo promotes a free document translation service, as well as website translation.
You simply need upload your document on their site, via the link provided, specify your target language – French, of course!, and you will get your results back, generally within one day.
We note that their free document translation service is limited to no more than 500 words. For more professional translation or longer texts, you would have to pay a fee.
You may wonder about the security aspect of submitting sensitive documents online, and rightly so!
Day Translations provides an extra level of security for anything you need to have translated: legal or medical documents, or anything as innocuous as a property title.
There will be a fee for this human translation, and this service will render you a quote within 10 minutes of your submitting the job for bid.
What sold us on this particular service is that they provide a secure environment for your most personal affairs.
You can submit your papers via their secure website, by fax or by courier – they have offices all over the world!
Maybe it would just be better to find a French teacher to learn online...
Where to Find a French Teacher for Lessons Online
As stated before, the awareness of time precludes enroling in traditional French courses for some people.
However, there is still opportunity to learn the language of Molière in what spare time you have at home!
Online resources, specifically language learning programmes, abound! The only trick to them is finding the French course London that works best for you.
Here are a few suggestions to help you learn French online:
This is an acclaimed language programme that places no obligation or commitment on you; in fact, you can try it out for free before subscribing.
What do you get with a subscription to Rocket French?
- Lessons in language and culture
- Interactive audio lessons with built-in pronunciation practice
- ready-made flashcards
- Spaced repetition tools
- A mobile app, for review on the go
- Access to forums, where you can chat with other students and French teachers
- Progress tracking
Foreign language students all aver that this programme, that takes only minutes a day to acquire knowledge, is the best way to learn French.
Some may baulk at the price, but considering the benefits of this lifelong learning tool, wouldn't the investment be worth it?
Learning French online, as opposed to buying a software package such as Rosetta Stone, gives you the advantage of working with the most up-to-date materials, membership in a community of learners, and digital tools to aid in your learning experience.
While there is nothing wrong with CD learning programmes, we might point out that they promote isolated learning and provide no feedback on your progress.
Thus it is recommended that finding a suitable online programme to learn French from would most mimic the classroom environment.
We'll close this down now, so that you can get right to it!