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Learning French- No class required

Most people would probably agree that learning another language is a valuable skill. I certainly do, and that’s why I am in France. However, although many of us would like to learn another language, we can’t always just uproot ourselves and move to another country. Nevertheless, that is not an excuse for not trying to become bilingual.

Thanks to this marvelous system of interconnect computers known as the internet, it seems that you can learn almost any language– and do so for free. Before that, most of us probably learned French through this gem:

If you just watched that YouTube clip, then you’re either giddy with nostalgia or very confused. Let me know which by leaving a comment.

Without further delay, here are my resources at the moment, in no particular order:

1. FrenchPod101.com

This is service isn’t free– but the podcast is. Just search for “French Pod 101.” The only downside is that you’ll have to sift through the episodes because they’re not broadcasted in a progressive order. On Monday, they may post a beginner less, but then Tuesday they may post an advanced session.

The premium service is only $25 per month, and the resources available on the website are plentiful. There are audio lessons, flashcards, quizzes, etc. You can create a dashboard based on your level and listen to the audio lessons that consist of daily French conversations and read along with the transcript for anything you don’t understand. Afterwards, you can add the vocabulary words to your flashcard deck just by clicking a button. You’ll learn common French expressions, grammar, and also French culture.

They also offer the same resources for many other languages, including English, Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Polish, etc. 

2. News In Slow French

Again, this is a website, but it also offers a free podcast. This is my personal favorite at the moment. However,  I don’t recommend this to beginners. If you’re still trying to learn basic phrases and vocabulary, then hold off on this for a couple months– or not, maybe just use it as secondary study. I use this everyday while I’m on the train and metro.

News in Slow French is simply that: the week’s news spoken in slow French. Catherine and Rylan share the week’s top news stories while speaking slowly and enunciating each word so that you can train your mind to listen and comprehend while not feeling too overwhelmed. This is a great way to practice listening comprehension and acquire new vocabulary. Repetition is key. Pick about 4-5 podcasts and listen to them repetitively throughout the week after reading along with the transcript a few times first.

I love this program because I’m expanding my vocabulary in a practical manner by learning words that I’d want to know immediately. It also offers grammar lessons, and teaches a new French expression each week. However, this is only available through the subscription, which is also pretty cheap. I think I paid $100 for the entire year or something around that price.

The only downside I can think of is that now I have an irrational fondness for Rylan and Catherine. I really want to meet them and to know what they look like. I’d like to say thank you for  offering an awesome podcast. Maybe we can grab lunch. This is a usual side-effect that I suffer from while becoming a regular listener to a podcast. They have very nice voices and Rylan sounds like a very animated and funny guy. I think we should be friends.

3. Le Petit Quotidien

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One of the kids has a subscription to this and I keep stealing them. These are a great resource to practice reading and acquire new vocabulary– but since it’s for children, the writing isn’t complicated. This also makes them perfect for a beginner to lower intermediate because you can focus on acquiring new vocabulary while not feeling intimidated by an overwhelming amount of complicated grammatical structure. Instead, you reinforce the grammar you have already learned while picking up maybe only a couple new structures.

The stories are fun and often come with supplemental information. The pictures help by providing context clues and visual aids to remember and recall what you’ve learned.

Each issues covers vocabulary, current events, the weather, etc. Additional information varies, but from these I’ve learned French vocabulary for geography, earth science, cultures, etc. You’ll learn by reading about fun educational topics that range from “How Earthquakes Work” to “What is Racism?” In all seriousness, that was one of the headlines for one of the editions earlier this week. It’s a great tool for youth education. Does anyone know if the New York Times has something like this available for kids in the United States? If not, they absolutely should.

Although the resources that I’ve just listed pertain particularly to French, there’s most likely an equivalent out there for most languages. However, if anyone reading this is interested in finding resources for another language, then please leave a comment and I’d be glad to take on the challenge and see what I could find!

But of course, it goes without saying that the best way to improve your language learning process is to TALK. TALK. TALK. TALK.

And I know: it’s easier said than… said done. I have difficulty seizing the opportunity to practice and I actually live in France. But there’s resources for that too that I’ve recently found!

I’ll continue that topic next week. Bisous!

For more resources, check out my other article about Learning French Through YouTube

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