Alright, so one of the most common questions that I get is “what resources should I use to learn X language”. I get this question so often that I thought it would be a smart idea to make a short series of blog post where I talk about which resources I’d use if I had to go back in time and learn specific languages. These posts will probably end up looking very similar because a lot of the resources will overlap as I use a lot of the same resources for multiple languages. A lot of the things that I use can be found in libraries in North America(Specifically Canada). There’s no way for me to predict where my readers will be coming from, so I’m just going to leave Amazon links because I feel like that would reach the most people. The only things that I will be mentioning in these posts will be resources that I have personally used myself.
Welcome to the second post in my resource series! Today’s language is a language that you probably tried to switch out of in grade 10 if you went to high school in Ontario and didn’t pay attention to the courses you chose. That wasn’t a good enough hint? Fine, let me give you another one. The Eiffel tower?… If you still haven’t guessed, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you should probably read my first post and learn Spanish instead. Todays language is French! OUIIIIIIIII!
So all jokes aside, I started learning french in the first grade. I was in french immersion and HATED it. Because of this, one could probably argue that I had a head start with French and I kind of agree with that and although school made me hate the French language with a passion that burned hotter than the tea I spilled on myself this afternoon, it was THAT hate that eventually blossomed into a love for French and all languages. As much as I hated French immersion, I have to credit it with making me into who I am today and for kickstarting my French learning.
Now that the sob story is over, let me explain my history with French in a bit more detail. I started french in school and was in French immersion until I was removed and put into core English classes in the 6th grade. Two years later, in the 8th grade I got into learning languages seriously. I didn’t, however, start using French resources other than dictionaries and stuff until later on. Just like with the Spanish article, I’m going to list only the resources that I’ve actually used myself.
I used this course briefly. My goal was to just brush up on my French when I went through it. I don’t even think that I used the audio which I didn’t know was a mistake at the time. I went through a couple lessons and just read the vocabulary lists and the dialogues. I remember the content being good. My only personal complaint, as with all Teach Yourself books, is that there was too much English is the course. Everyone learns differently, so that may not bother you guys. Overall, I honestly liked it and would recommend it to other people, but please remember to get the audio!
Teach Yourself: Perfect your French
I really liked this book. I felt like I learned A LOT from it. I didn’t finish the book, but I got relatively far. The content was very good, but one complaint I had was that not all the dialogues in the book had audio which annoyed me. There was also too much English, but I was able to look past that. This book is meant to be used after Teach Yourself: Complete French to bring your French to an even higher level. Overall, I really really liked going through the book and recommend it to you guys as long as you have the audio. I found that reciting the dialogues out loud while reading and listening to the Cd’s really helped me retain the content from this course specifically. I don’t know why, but it did.
I haven’t actually sat down and completely gone through this book yet, so I can’t really say that I can recommend it just yet. I did, however, briefly peruse through the book and explore the content a little bit. I also listened to a few dialogues by themselves without the text to see what it would be like. I liked the content and it seems like it would be a good course. I’ll get back to you guys once I’ve actually gone through it properly. This book is supposed to get you to a B2 level.
After you finish the first course that was mentioned above, you can move onto Assimil: Using French which is supposed to get you to a C1 level. Just like Assimil: French, I haven’t actually done much with this book aside from perusing through it and listening to a few dialogues, but the book’s content seems rich. I’ll also get back to you guys once I’ve properly used this book.
Earworms is great! I always use them when I start new languages (If the language is available) I used all three volumes not to learn French, but to brush up on it. It worked pretty well and I was able to learn a few new things and fix some beginner mistakes that I didn’t realize I was making. Their Cd’s are in the French that is spoken in France. This is how Earworms works. They use melodies, music and repetition to help you learn. The whole purpose of the course is to make the language get stuck in your head like a song and it actually works very well. I learned so much form all three volumes. I’d recommend Earworms to everyone. You won’t get fluent with their Cd’s, but I still haven’t found any other course that allows me to learn the basics as fast as I can with them. I found their Cd’s at the library. Check your local library to see if they have these before you buy them anywhere else.
Just like with any language, YouTube is a GOLDMINE. The French speaking world is pretty expansive, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding French in the accent you’d like to learn. I tend to watch more youtubers from France because that’s the accent I personally learned, but I also watch youtubers from Quebec in the hopes that I can get more used to the accent. There is a TON of French on YouTube. Take advantage of it. You can watch videos to learn French if you’d like or just watch things in French in general!
There’s a lot of French on Netflix too! I watched a couple French series on Netflix with French subtitles and am currently looking for more. They have French movies AND series and a lot of them are very good. I feel like a lot of those who suffered through French immersion back in school assume that French movies and shows can’t be good, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Be free! Go on Netflix and learn French. It doesn’t have to be painful anymore!
One thing that helped me out a looooooooot with my French was listening to French music and then going online and searching for the lyrics and trying to memorize and understand them. When I first started doing this, I’d just type the name of the song into google and try and find the lyrics that way. Now theres a website called Rapgenius.com. You can type in the name of the song you’re looking for and the lyrics will come up. The artists themselves and also the community can leave annotations with explanations for what the lyrics mean. I haven’t been on in a while, but last time I checked the lyrics were in green when the artists themselves verified their meaning and a different colour when it was the community. They have all genres of music, so ignore the “Rap” in “rapgenius”
Once again I don’t know whats available for androids because I’ve never had one… I understand if me saying that was enough to make a lot of you stop reading, but if you’re still here, I’ll keep going. iTunes has a lot of podcasts for learning French and a lot of French radio stations also have a few podcasts on iTunes. I personally listen to a lot of NRJ, specifically “Manu 6/9 sur NRJ” which is a radio show where they cover a lot of different topics, tell jokes, have special guests visit them and double unsuspecting French peoples monthly salaries. French people always laugh when I say that I learn French by listening to Manu. Another podcast I listen to is RFI. Its another podcast from France and they cover news and international affairs and many other things. I like them because they allow me to be exposed to more technical vocabulary. You don’t have to listen to those two specifically, but I personally like them, so no, listening to Manu is not the magic, esoteric secret to learning French, but he certainly helped
Change the language on your phone
Another thing that you can do is change the language on your phone. My phone is almost always in French. It honestly feels weird to switch it back to English. There will be the occasional thing that I don’t understand which will result in my switching it back to English temporarily, but its in French 95% of the time. I don’t recommend doing this until you’re at a level where you can actually understand a decent amount because you may be lost if you can’t. We’ve all had that one friend who thinks its funny to ask for your phone and change the language settings to Chinese and then laugh as you struggle to switch it back. If you switch the language too early, just remember, you’ll be pulling that prank on yourself and it won’t be fun!
Frenchpod is good. They have a Youtube channel and should also still have a few free podcasts on iTunes(I’m not sure about androids). They have a dialogue in each podcast that they have two speakers recite, then they translate it, explain the words and then break down and explain the sentences and grammar used in the dialogue. It’s great for learning new words and getting a brief, but not overwhelming look at French grammar. They have a website where you can sign up for the full program. I’ve personally never used the full program, but it DOES exist and they have multiple levels. Their content is normally in European French from my experience.
Pimsleur is a really good course for beginners. I didn’t get that far with it either. A friend of mine wanted to learn French a couple years ago, so I took out Pimsleur French from the local library and went through a little bit of it to see if it was a good resource to recommend to him. I liked what I heard. They start off by playing a dialogue which, if I remember correctly was between two people and I think it had to do something with one person asking the other person if they were from America and if they spoke French. After they play the dialogue they break it down into smaller pieces and even break the words up into individual phonemes. There is a lot of repetition in Pimsleur which is great and they replay the dialogue at the end. The following lesson was a follow up of the first one and a lot of the words repeated themselves which is also great for retention. The whole course goes on like this. Each lesson is generally about half an hour long. I think there are ten because it came with 5 Cd’s and each Cd had two lessons on it. Pimsleur is great and I feel like not enough people know about it
If you’ve read any of my other posts then, you’ve heard me mention Lingq. I’m going to copy and paste little explanation of what Lingq is and how it works from my other post because it shouldn’t really change depending on the language.
Lingq is a great website that I personally use myself when I learn different languages. This is how Lingq works. They have dialogues that you read and listen to at the same time. When you first start, all the words you don’t know will be highlighted in light blue. If you struggle with a certain word, then you can turn it into a “Lingq” which will means that the word will now be highlighted in yellow instead of light blue and the site will compile all of your “lingqs” and show them to you as flashcards to help you memorize them. Once you’ve learned a word, you can hover over it and click “known”. All known words stop being highlighted and just look like normal text. Lingq has a free Version and a paid version. You can chose which version suits you best. Obviously the paid version comes with more features though. I personally like Lingq because it allows me to get a lot of input and I can also measure my progress using the known word counter they have, and also by how less and less of the words in the dialogues are highlighted over time. Another cool feature about Lingq is that you can book time with tutors who will help you improve your abilities further. I haven’t used this feature yet, but I’m planning to use it in the near future. I really liked Lingq French because they had sooooooo much material to chose from when I used it for a short time to brush up on my French.
This website is free and allows you to find language exchange partners. You can talk online or you can actually meet up in person. It’s your choice. It’s a wonderful site and I’ve used it for every single language I’ve ever learned. You DO have to be careful at times because some people are NOT on the site to learn languages if you catch my drift *Winks*. I guess that goes with all websites that are meant to be used to meet people and most people ARE interested in exchanging languages, but just watch out for creepy people and you should be alright. I’ve personally made a lot of cool friends on this website and stayed in contact with them for years. It’s a great way to be able to practice languages without even having to leave your living room. You could even learn in your pyjamas if you wanted to. Who would turn that down? This website was pretty good for French specifically because there were a lot of French speakers on it from several different countries which was good for me because I like to choose specific accents.
Alright, ladies and gentlemen, so that was the second post in the series on resources that I use to learn languages. I’ve used other resources, but the ones mentioned above are the ones that came to mind the fastest and that I enjoyed the most.There are also a few other things that I know would work well for learning French, but that I’ve never actually used, so I didn’t feel like I’d be being genuine if I mentioned them here. I hope me being genuine about not having an android didn’t make me lose readers. Also yes, a lot of these posts will have parts that are copied and pasted into each other because as I said earlier, a lot of the resources I use are resources that I’ve used for several different languages.
Anyway I hope that this helps, and remember. You can do it! Good luck with your Spani… FRENCH, ooops! Darn copy and paste!