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Improve Your French For Free

French The Prudent Homemaker

One of my current goals is to improve my French every day by learning new words and phrases, improving my grammar, and improving my listening comprehension.

This year marks 20 years since I left for France and Switzerland as a missionary. It's been 19 years since I had the opportunity to speak French every day. Consequently, when I got back in touch with some friends from France on Facebook a couple of years ago, I found that I had forgotten a lot of French. I also had a very hard time understanding everything my French friends were saying during video calls.

I started studying French again in earnest two years ago, and I've seen a great leap in what I can understand and what I can say.

There's still so much more for me to learn. For the last month, I've really intensified my French study and made it a priority every day. Sometimes I just get a few minutes here and there, and sometimes I get the chance to spend 15 minutes, but every day I am doing something to improve my language skills.

Here's what I'm currently using to improve my French:

 

Websites:

 

Duolingo

A great free learning site that you can access on your computer and your phone. You can take a test at the beginning to help you start at the right level for you. I love that this site tests you on your spelling (including the correct use of accents), vocabulary, listening comprehension, and speaking ability. I have to admit that I prefer using this on the computer; the phone ap is not quite the same. This is more of a beginning level, but if you're forgotten a lot of a language it will help refresh your memory.

French Crazy

A French learning blog

Talk In French

Another French learning blog

 

YouTube Channels:

New vocabulary and lots of listening to native French speakers makes YouTube fantastic for improving both your spoken French and your comprehension.

 

Comme Une Française

This channel is in English by a native French speaker who shares lots of great expressions and vocabulary that you never learned in French class as well as cultural information. She has a blog as well that links to her videos, but since her information is in video format, I've found it fastest to subscribe directly to her channel. 

 

Learn French With Alexa

These are really basic beginning lessons, perfect if you're just getting started or if you need a refresher. I've been playing these for my children, but I tend to listen to them while they are playing, and they are great reminders.

 

Cyprien

Cyprien is the top YouTuber in France (because he's hilarious!) and has a worldwide following. If you don't understand the words the first time, try watching it again with French subtitles. I've found that helps me catch the words that flew by me.

 

Français Avec Pierre

Pierre's lessons are all in French. He speaks clearly and slowly. I just found his channel recently and I like that he doesn't speak too fast. His channel feels like personal tutoring from someone super nice and patient. His videos clear up grammar errors that are easy to make. His Facebook page has some great tips too!

 

Pinterest:

I've started a French language learning board that you can follow here. I love having new French words come up in my feed all the time.

 

The Library:

Our library doesn't have a lot of French books  (I did not see any literature) but they did have some of the McGraw HillMcGraw Hill series of workbooks that I've enjoyed. Check your local library to see what they offer! Some public library systems even offer the use of Rosetta Stone (an expensive language learning program) for free on their site; check to see if your library has this option.

 

Online Dictionary:

 

Word Reference

This is my go-to online free dictionary. Though I own two French-English dictionaries, I use this site much more often, as I'm often in need of a word when I'm typing a message to friends on Facebook. I have also used it many times when I know the word but don't know whether or not it is masculine or feminine. They have a phone app as well.

 

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I've found that actively striving to improve my language skills every day has been fun and exciting for me. It was never this fun when I studied French in high school (and less difficult than the French literature class I took in college!) Now that I am learning for my own personal enrichment, rather than a grade, I find that I am an enjoying it much more. And of course, the more I learn, the more smoothly those future video calls will go! I imagine I'll have a few more of those this month, for, at this very moment, a friend of mine's son from France is in an airplane on his way to our house to stay for the next month!

I imagine I'll have a few more of those this month, for, at this very moment, a friend of mine's son from France is in an airplane on his way to our house to stay for the next month! I don't think this opportunity would have come about if I had not been striving to improve my French so that I could communicate better with his parents.

 

If you're working on improving your foreign language skills, what sites are a help to you?

 

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Comments

  • Amy April 14, 2017

    I love that there are so many free language tools out there. I hope you enjoy your visitor.

  • Karen April 14, 2017

    Oh, mercy! I am going to try this! I had 2 years of French in high school, which would be, let's see, ummm, I am now 72, so 55 years ago!!! Can my brain do it? Thought it would be interesting to see what actually would come back to me.

  • lynn May 05, 2017

    Yes, it can. I'm 72 also, had six years of French in high school. Am now learning Spanish with Duolingo. I find a lot of my French comes back when I can't think of a Spanish word. Try it. It's fun.

  • Sheeba M April 14, 2017

    Love this Brandi...the thing is i am a stay at home for the last nine years n suddenly feel the Lord put back the hunger n drive I had before marriage as a single working gal.. I have been blessed my hubby is supportive but also we need extra income after living like college students for so long...
    I have a lot of skills that need to be reawaken and like you I have embarked on them again..they all may not make an income to contribute towards my household but then if I hold back I scorn the Lord who created me...hands to create and make things and a creative mind to envision and dream...as long as it's all ticking I strive to use them...started a feed on instagram @sheebadaniel check it out if you want to see wat I have done...

  • Margaret @approachingfood April 14, 2017

    I love this post!

    I'm working on learning Spanish so that I can communicate better with my MIL. I have to say, she is so awesome -- she is the oldest student in her English class (in South America), and she's trying to improve her English to better communicate with me! My favourite app is duolingo, because it also checks pronunciation. Plus it's portable, since it's on my phone (although I believe you don't need a smartphone to use it, just a computer).

    By the way, what a great way to be a role model for your kids!

  • Lauren April 14, 2017

    If anyone has Amazon Prime, they have some free videos in the Prime section on learning French- including some fun ones for kids.

  • J April 14, 2017

    Bravo Brandy! Le français est ma langue maternelle et c'est un grand plaisir de voir cette belle liste de ressources que tu offres à tes lectrices.
    It is hard to keep up a language when you are not immersed. I studied Hebrew for awhile and now have forgotten much of the little I knew. My goal is to get back at it when my children are a bit older.

  • Jenna April 14, 2017

    Thank you, Brandy - I'm definitely going to use this to brush up on my very rusty french.

    Additionally, if anyone has suggestions for learning Latin, I'd be very interested.

  • Pam April 15, 2017

    I attempted to study the French language as a college sophomore. My speaking skills were horrendous, fortunately my writing skills saved me and I passed. It truly confounded my professor and myself. Today, some thirty years later I am trying to learn French once again. I went to the Duolingo site and had a ball. I have been wanting to learn try do something new, this may be it!

  • Michele April 15, 2017

    I have been doing French on Duolingo for about 2 years now. We visited Quebec for the past two summers and that is what prompted my return to studying French (high school and college). I know some of the resources above but am not familiar with a few, so thank you! I also like the videos on YouTube called French Xtra (they also have Spanish, German, and English). They were made about 15 years or so ago, and is in the style of the show "Friends." Some of it is a bit silly, but they speak slowly and have some written cues that help (and you can do closed caption, too in French). Our library also has Mango online which I can do at home. I also go to the children's section of the library to the foreign language section and have found books like Magic Tree House in French that are my perfect level. I tried Harry Potter, too, but it was a bit too advanced for me. But Duolingo has been my goto. I am on a 165-day streak after breaking a 365-day one! Now if I could just remember all of the subjunctive conjugations. I can never keep them straight! Bonne chance avec ton français!

  • Annika April 15, 2017

    Dear Brandy,
    Thank you for the inspiration!
    Your post made me sign up for Duolingo to start practicing Spanish again.
    This was one of my New Year's resolutions but so far I hadn't made any effort on this at all.

  • Solange April 15, 2017

    Bonjour Brandy,
    Je viens lire régulièrement votre blog, pour ma part il me fait pratiquer mon anglais avec des sujets que j aime! La famille, les recettes économiques, la couture..
    Encore bravo et merci pour le partage !

  • Mariana April 15, 2017

    I love Memrise.com
    Check it out!

  • Jay April 16, 2017

    I love using the Duolingo app on my phone. Though I am learning Italian. I am on a 70 day streak, since the day I found out we are going to Italy and Switzerland in October.
    It really is so easy to just spend 5-10 minutes a day and now I can hardly believe how much I've learned.

    I have tried learning French on and off for years but never get too far with it. After I've learned Italian I will commit to learning French.

  • Leticia Cinto April 16, 2017

    Tks for letting me know about Cyprien's videos. Me and my husband have already enjoy some videos and we are planning to watch some more. We really found them super funny :D

  • Michelle April 17, 2017

    Thanks for the great resources!

    I'm also learning French, and I try to get anything from 5 to 30 minutes of daily exposure. I don't really use language learning material anymore, just regular content. What I've found really helpful is watching the evening news: http://www.francetvinfo.fr/replay-jt/france-2/20-heures/
    They speak clearly, there's new content every day and as a bonus, you also get an understanding of french politics & culture.

  • Jo April 17, 2017

    Brandy, it's great that you are exposing your kids to other languages when they are young. I wish public schools would start languages in kindergarten. I took French in junior college and my professor taught us the grammar and vocabulary quite well, but did nothing to teach us pronunciation, so we could never converse, just read it. Now I've forgotten all of it, as that was long ago. At your prompting, I've started Spanish on Duolingo, as I will take a mission trip this summer in Central America, where one of the main languages will be Spanish. I feel like I should learn French or German -- my paternal family name is French and my maternal great-grandfather was a German immigrant -- but Spanish has always been the language I've wanted to know. Keep practicing Brandy, and don't feel bad that you had lost some of your French. I know a Japanese woman here in the states who finally subscribed to Japanese channels so she wouldn't forget her own native tongue. She spoke English almost exclusively for so long, she had developed an American accent when speaking Japanese, and was forgetting words.

  • Lisa April 17, 2017

    I am learning American Sign Language to be able to teach my children. My 3-year-old is hard of hearing, has hearing aids, and although he speaks and comprehends above his age level, we want him to learn ASL to be able to communicate however he wants when he is older. And if he'd like to be a part of Deaf Culture then he'll have that option too. I've recently found "Sign It!", it's made by the same people as Signing Time, but geared more towards adults and learning ASL grammar, phrases, culture, rather than individual signs.

  • Jennifer April 18, 2017

    I found that I improved my Spanish by taking a course on Coursera in Egyptology (of all things!). That made me really step up my reading ability and then listening to the lectures with subtitles over and over had me picking up the cadence of the language better than anything else I've tried.

  • Reader April 18, 2017

    I just watch French children's shows with my kids ;) They're way better than American shows- and less whiny. Many are free on YouTube. My kids have learned French this way, they are fluent.

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