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The Top 10 Ways to Learn French in 2021

As recommended by people learning at The French Room

1. Podcasts

Podcasts

An estimated 100 million people listen to podcasts every month. Many of us have started making listening a part of our daily routine to give us a boost, learn something new or just for the pure entertainment.

Sophie, who is a level 4 learner, shared a fab podcast list with me a few weeks ago. You can find podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts in App store, Google Play Music and many other platforms. 

Sophie’s list – Quoi de Meuf, InnerFrench, Francais Authentique, One Thing in a French Day, Change Ma Vie, Fluidité, Louie Média, French Expat, Culture 2000, Frequences 9 3/4, Les Savanturiers, La Tête au Carré

Have a listen while you’re driving, cooking, gardening or anything where you are relaxed. I like to listen with an objective in mind – general gist, listening out for specific words or turn of phrase, noticing masculine and feminine words, pronunciation etc. Your goal could be to understand 5% of what you hear and a few weeks later a bit more. How ever you listen, your French can only benefit from the experience.

2. TF1 13h

TF1 13h

The summer is a great time to watch TF1 (A French national TV channel) and its 1 o’clock magazine programme (13h – le treize heure)

There are numerous 2 – 4 minute clips of the TF1 team travelling around France reporting on tourist hotspots, markets and cultural traditions.

Each short film is available for 1 week. They are short enough to just enjoy and dream about what it must be like holidaying in France this year! And also a nice length to study.

If you listen to the same clip 3 of more times your comprehension will improve. You could read and understand the text to the right of the video before or after watching it to enhance understanding. And of course, you can stop, start and replay as many times as you like.

It’s a great way to gain an insight into how it is in France this summer from holiday-maker’s perspective.

3. Music

fete de la musique

A French friend once said to me “Nous avons du bol en France parcequ’on a non seulement la musique anglaise, mais aussi la richesse de la musique francaise, donc on gagne des deux côté”. What a great perspective!

I think the 3 biggest benefits to listening to French music are that you get to hear pronunciation and intonation that you can easily mimic, you can learn and remember whole phrases off pat that are ready to use without thinking too much about the grammar and it gives you a great context to remember rich vocab.

Steve, a level 2 French learner, is a musician and music teacher and has become quite passionate about French music. Here are some of the songs he recommends – La Mer – Charles Trenet, Comme D’habitude – Claude Francois, Je t’aime …moi non plus – Serge Gainsbourg / Jane Birkin

If you would like some inspiration for some current French artists Loanne, Christine and the Queens and Florent Pagny are all at the top of the French charts.

4. Youtube

Youtube French

7 in 10 youtube users go to youtube for help with work, studies or hobbies. French is no exception and one of the most popular youtubers teaching French is Alexa. 

Many of us like to watch youtube videos on a daily basis. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, why not watch it in French?

Sam, a level 4 learner at French Room since 2020, relaxes by watching gamer videos in French. If you choose a subject you like and know something about you are more likely to follow the vocab more easily. Plus every field of interest has a repetitive and limited number of ways to describe the same thing. If you can master these you will be able to talk about your interest with solid confidence.

5. French Boxsets and Film

Learn French

French boxsets and films have been experiencing something of a renaissance over the last few years with shows like Call my Agent, Spiral and Lupin all topping the trending lists across the world.

In 2020, there was a study done into the benefits of children reading subtitles in the same language as the TV programme they were watching that found that this simple choice helped develop language skills.

“Same language subtitles can improve … decoding skills – ability to use existing knowledge of letters and sounds to correctly pronounce words.

It can also help improve vocabulary, and boost comprehension skills and reading fluency.

Subtitles have also been shown to improve the literacy skills of children  and minority language speakers learning the official language of the country in which they live.”

6. French Learning websites and online courses

The official French Government sponsored website for learning French is TV5 Monde. It also comes as an app but few language learning apps can beat Duolingo in my opinion.

The TV5 Monde website has French exercises, vocab lists and interesting videos all organised using the European scale of language competency from A0 complete beginner through to C2 fluent speaker. 

RFI has lots of radio podcasts to listen to and has a slowed down French news feature called “Francais facile”. And if want your grammar to be really precise there really is no better site than Kwiziq for concise explanation and well thought out exercises.

There are also MOOC sites offering online courses that can be a useful way to study from beginner through to the fluent DELF qualification. My favourite is FUN

7. Stories and Reading

Reading French stories

Most people learning French with The French Room will know how we extol the virtues of reading Mr Men books as a fun and actually quite stretching way to read French. A study found that the language used in Mr Men books was on the same level as a Roald Dahl, which will give you an idea as to how rich they are in vocabulary and turn of phrase.

 As with listening, when you are reading I recommend going in with an objective. If you want to translate you are essentially doing the same thing as you would transcripting a video. This is quite a skill in its own right and should be seen as only one way of reading a text.

Another is to read for gist and to skip over words you don’t know or guess them, as you might do reading in your own language. Or you could look for specific grammar points and dissect a text from a grammatical standpoint. Most people can read a second language with more ease than they can speak it, so there is a comfort in reading that is rarely felt when speaking, listening or writing.

8. Daily Practice

Daily practice french

If you were living in France you would be using French everyday. Unsurprisingly, as any musician, sports person and anyone achieving improvement overall will tell you, doing something little and often is always more effective than big chunks with little activity in between.

For beginners through to intermediate French learners Duolingo is a fantastic way to practice French on a daily basis. The app is based on a huge amount of data on which habits need repetition and how to build up the blocks of a language.

Another which is very popular with The French Room students is Coffee Break French.

9. Come to The French Room classes!

French Classes

After all your home study you’ll want to speak French with others! The single biggest objective that people cite as a problem with their language learning is that they can’t actually speak so can’t communicate when in France!

Come to a class at The French Room and bring it altogether in real conversation, connection and feel the confidence that speaking French with us gives you.

Classes are available in groups up to 8 on Zoom and privately for individuals, couples and small groups.

10. Bonus for The French Room students - Cook along with Justine

cook along french

Back by popular demand in September 2021! Cook along with Justine direct from Nantes on Zoom.

A total immersion event cooking live direct from France. Cook a main dish and dessert and sit down for a meal and conversation in French afterwards.

This is now a totally immersive French event with no English spoken. 

So there you have it! Our top 10 ways to learn French in 2021. Enjoy your French language learning!

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