Discover the best ways to learn French in 2018.
In this review, of the top 10 ways to learn French, you’ll find out what each French learning method is best for, whether it’s fun and effective and how our students rate it overall. This is based on a roundup of feedback over the past 12 months.
We’ve compiled this top 10 list to bring you an objective view of self-teaching methods to learn French. We’ve road tested and assessed each for fun, usability, effectiveness and durability.
Duolingo is the app of the moment for beginners, with it’s fluency rating, variety of tasks and easy usability. Michel Thomas is an old hand, and continues to get a lot of attention, especially from people who are just starting out.
There’s been an explosion in self-teaching techniques and combining new ways with old is really very effective. We’ve found that the methods listed below are motivating people to practice a little everyday and gradually increase their level of challenge. The results are that we are seeing real, tangible progress across the board. Now, is a very exciting time to learn French in a way that you can really use conversationally.
Take a look at each of the reviews to discover the best fit for you. Find out which popular methods are best for beginners. Which are the best buys for those who are more fluent in French. And how you progress from one approach to another.
Top 10 ways to learn French 2018
Duolingo is the highest rated app used by our students. It rates very highly on all our measures. It’s fun in the same way that a game of solitaire is fun. It gives you a series of little challenges that fit well with a spare 5 minutes in your day and the format is really easy to use.
The intelligent adaptation of challenge to your level makes it a very effective tool for learning vocab and essential grammar. Added to this, the variety of tasks is well thought through, so you get to practice speaking, listening, reading and writing in an engaging and fun way.
It’s a particularly good app for beginners and people wanting to brush up on rusty school French. At this level it has proved very durable amongst our students, who tend to stick with it for months. This is probably due to the very motivational rewards and penalties the app offers, including a fluency percentage and health that can be increased or lost dependent on how often you practice.
2. Learn French Audio courses
The 2 leading audio courses Michel Thomas and Paul Nobel remain popular choices with our students. They score fairly low on fun but are highly rated for their usability mainly because the CDs/ Downloaded Audio can be played whilst travelling.
Paul Nobel stands out for his clever tips and tricks, designed to help with remembering the basics, even though he says we should forget! Both methods are fairly effective, but students tend to move on from them quickly, as their usefulness wanes once the basic introduction to the language has been covered.
Every week our students recommend new resources on youtube.
Here are some of the highlights from our students’ recommendations:
Learn French with Geraldine, Learn French with Pascal and French Truly TV all score highly for fun. They all offer engaging tutorials that open up a great range of familiar, real spoken French vocabulary for self-learners. There are so many fantastic teachers on youtube helping with every aspect of language learning.
As one of our students commented; “I always seem to find a video on youtube that matches the learning point that I’m interested in at the time.”
The durability and effectiveness of youtube is very high just because there is so much choice. That strength can also be a weakness, in that the sheer volume of options can be overwhelming.
4. BBC Ma France
The BBC Ma France series is a French course for self-learners. It’s a little dated now but the films and lessons, based around basic French grammar, are easy to follow and come with a whole range of fun consolidation activities.
The site is user friendly and easy to navigate but it is no longer maintained by the BBC and uses flash. Consequentially, there are a few technical issues, which is a great shame because it’s a good solid course that self-learners are happy to follow from beginning to end.
This course is particularly effective for building a stronger understanding of French grammar.
5. TV5 Monde
TV5 monde is popular with beginners for it’s introductory video series “Totem”. Equally, advanced learners like it for the in-depth lessons, articles and videos on current French culture.
The website has some really good material, but it is sometimes difficult to navigate. It’s a very effective resource for broadening your understanding of the French language in all it’s forms. The structure and tone feels educational.
Overall, a very rich resource to learn French.
6. Kwiziq AI Grammar Learning
Kwiziq is the perfect place for people who are seeking perfection. It is an extremely accurate and systematic way to cover French grammar in all it’s intricate detail. This one seems to be a bit like marmite for our students. Either they absolutely love it and devour grammar quiz after grammar quiz or they are put off at the first bite never to return.
Kwiziq has some great features, including a brain map of your progress, that graphically shows how language is not linear. It’s probably the most comprehensive online grammar book available. As a result, it covers advanced points with the same dedication to detail as the more commonly available basic stuff.
7. French Boxsets
One of the most relaxing ways to soak up French is by settling down in front of a really good box set. Call My Agent (Netflix) is currently a big hit with our students. As is The Tunnel (Sky), Spiral (BBC 4) and a whole host of French series on Channel 4’s Walter Presents.
To get the real benefit out of this laid back approach to learning, switch off the English subtitles though!
8. Linguee / Reverso / Google Translate
Translation tools and online dictionaries are really good for two things. Firstly, they show words in context so you can really understand the meaning and when to use a word. Secondly, you can listen to the word being pronounced.
These are basic background tools that all language learners use.
For those who have a more academic goal or are learning for a business qualification, massive online open courses (MOOC) are a godsend. Universities around the world now offer complete French language courses online that can lead to recognised qualifications.
They are fabulous for self-study and usually connect with a community of learners who are seeking to achieve similar goals.
Last but not least, reading remains a popular and effective way to learn French. It doesn’t matter if you read a children’s book or one of France’s literary giants, there’s always something to be gained from reading.
One tactic that our students particularly enjoy, is to read a book that they’ve already enjoyed in English. Personally, I think you can gain a lot just by spending 5 minutes reading a Mr Man book every day!