So you want to learn French

You’ve got to this page because you’re interested in learning French. As a French guy who has been in England for a few months, Ive met a lot of people struggling with this language.
I want to introduce you to several resources available on Internet to improve your knowledge, depending of your level.

I’m a beginner / totally inexperienced

  • I’ll assume that you a good grasp of English, and then you can enjoy the wonder which is Duolingo: with it, you will quickly discover the most important French words, and assimilate conjugation and grammar concepts. Duolingo divides French into almost 100 small bits, and let you learn them in a playful way.
  • If you think that you need more vocabulary, Memrise is a really good way to start: you increase your “garden” (short term memory) of words daily, and work on the past ones to finally put them in your “green-house” (long term memory).

These are the two resources you should use, as they have been developed for people who want to learn a language as a hobby, with a very good community spirit. And you can always try and fight me on Duolingo, I may be back in the game soon!

I already know/speak a bit of French and want to become comfortable with it

In this case, you have to start reading French often, in every way available: during my intense English learning, I use to read English novels while traveling, then listening to English podcasts while running, and finally read English websites back home.

  • French books: with all the wonderful charity book shops in town, you should easily be able to find some classic French novels, as you can start with children’s book. If you want to make genuine progress, you can use a program called Anki to remember the new words you found, which I’ll fully describe here soon.
  • French online newspapers: French journalism has a lot of very good newspapers, as it can be very interesting to explore a new point of view on the current events. The French page of Google news offers a good range of newspapers, but personally I really like the French edition of Slate, Slate.fr, as well as Rue89.com, which talk more about politics.
  • French comic blogs: I’ll be honest, I read more comics than newspapers, so I can recommend to you several very good French blogs that you’ll surely love such as the following.
    • Bouletcorp.com, by the artist called Boulet, with the English version.
    • xkcd.lapin.org has the advantage to be a French version of the very good tech/Sci-Fi/crazy blog XKCD, what make the translation very easy to get.
    • And a lot of others, as “L’actu en patates” (news in potatoes), the very girly “Ma vie est tout à fait fascinante” (my life is absolutely fascinating) or the more manga Maliki. Anyway, French blog writers love to link from their page to other blogs, so you will quickly discover a lot of gems!

I use to be bilingual and just want to maintain a good level

Even if the previous sections are useful for you, you should take advantage of the several free resources you can find on Internet to listen some French. A good way to do this regularly is to subscribe to several podcasts, as the following:

  • Rendez-vous avec X” is an investigation show, which have the advantage of being quite slow, for those of you who struggle with the speed of French-speaking people.
  • As slow is “Sur les épaules de Darwin“, a really accessible show mixing biology and philosophy, you should give it a go.
  • Là-bas si j’y suis” is a show simply about news or covering a special story. This is my favorite, as the presenter plays messages from listeners every day!
  • And finally, “Le zapping”  is a very short daily show (5mn) made from bits of TV programs of the 2 days before.

I hope this article will increase the French language presence in your way of life, and I promise that if you spend even 20% of your online time with a French environment (e.g. starting by putting Facebook  in French), you’ll quickly see the effects!

2 thoughts on “So you want to learn French

  1. This is great! So many good resources to choose from. FB in French – thought about trying that. Can’t hurt!
    Do you have any podcast recommendations?
    Merci!

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