Free resources for learning French
I’ve come up with the ultimate list of over 60 free resources for learning French for you guys! I only chose the ones that I thought looked super-useful and that also had a pretty decent user interface. You’d be surprised how many websites there are out there from the early days of the internet… Don’t worry – I didn’t include any of them!
Let’s get started!
By the way, I loved my holiday in France in 2012 – I can’t believe I haven’t been back since! Here’s me at a book market in Lille:
General French resources: beginners
- The University of Southern California has a list of resources for teachers of French, for beginners. They may be useful for French learners as well – they contain flashcards, songs and short stories.
- The BBC website has courses and general language resources for beginner and lower-intermediate levels.
- The website Language Guide has some vocabulary, grammar, reading and listening resources for beginners. The vocabulary section is visual – with pictures representing words. The reading section contains simple texts accompanied by audio.
General resources: upper-intermediate and advanced
- The website of the Alliance Française has sample DELF and DALF exam papers. You may find these useful even if you’re not planning to take the exams.
- Culture Française is a blog written by a French teacher, which is about… French culture! It’s a great source of reading materials, videos and photos for those of you who want to learn more about the culture of France and practise some French at the same time.
General resources: all levels
- The Open University has a selection of free courses for learners of different levels – from beginners to advanced. You will find there videos, audio material and downloadable worksheets.
- French Crazy is a website full of resources focused on a range of aspects of learning French – vocabulary, culture and general study skills tips. Learners of a range of levels will find it useful.
- Bonjour de France has a collection of games, vocabulary resources, grammar points and many more.
- The website of the University of Texas has a rather grammar-heavy, yet very useful collection of resources for learners of different levels.
- Oh la la Speak French is a video-heavy website full of useful activities and expressions.
- The good old About.com has a French section with lots of resources for learners, including short stories with English translations – you can read them side by side.
- Talk in French is a very nicely presented blog with articles about various aspects of the French language – a lot of it is devoted to vocabulary and travel.
- Lawless French is a blog with posts explaining how and when to use different French expressions and grammar structures. You will also find more general posts about French life and culture.
- Oui, c’est ça is a blog with fun articles about French grammar and vocabulary points, with references to French culture.
Listening: podcasts and radio
- Français Interactif is a collection of French recordings on iTunes – all free.
- Learn French by Podcast has a range of podcast episodes on interesting topics relating to current affairs.
- FrenchPod101 seamlessly combines language and culture.
- Podcast Français Facile has a range of podcasts that focus on specific areas of language learning – grammar, culture, vocabulary, travel, etc.
- Europe 1 has archived podcasts for advanced French learners.
- The website Podcast Français Facile has a number of audio files for less advanced learners.
- Learn French by listening to French poetry? Why not! Check out the Easy French Poetry podcast.
- Coffee Break French is a free podcast with over two hundred episodes.
- Comme une Française is a great video library of mini-lessons delivered in a fun way.
- The TV station TV5 has a website devoted to helping learners of French practise their listening skills. It contains videos with transcripts and accompanying activities.
- The Euronews YouTube channel has news clips with subtitles – perfect for more advanced learners.
- France24 also has some archived news video clips.
- FrenchPod101 is also on YouTube so check out their channel for some videos.
- Alexa Polidoro’s YouTube channel will also help you get better at listening, and it’s fun too!
- The Corner French Bistro YouTube Channel has a number of animated videos that are great for beginners and lower-intermediate learners.
Listening to the radio in French is a great way to learn the language. Make it active – listen for meaning, listen and summarise what you’ve heard, or listen for specific elements, such as accent, stress or intonation. Here are some radio stations to choose from:
- Radio France International (RFI) has a lot of talking – great for more advanced learners.
- RFI also has easier radio extracts for less advanced learners, with exercises.
- France Inter has a mixture of news, stories, talk shows and music.
Listening: general resources
- News in Slow French are news stories delivered at a slower pace so that French learners can pick up more information from the recordings.
- The blog Français Athentique has a number of audio and video files with narratives told in ‘authentic’ French. Great for upper-intermediate and advanced learners.
- You can use Forvo to type in words you don’t know how to pronounce and hear their pronunciation.
- The websites About.com and French Learner also have some very basic guides to French pronunciation – useful for beginners!
- You can use italki to find a partner to practise your speaking skills with. While it’s not free, you can also teach your native language on the platform and use the credits you earn to pay for language sessions with native speakers of your target language
- French Word-a-Day teaches you vocabulary in small doses, with a little bit of information about French life.
- The Encyclopédie Incomplète has a list of the 600 most common French words – if you don’t know where to start when learning vocabulary, start from there.
- @TalkinFrench and @frenchwords tweet individual words with translations almost daily.
- Follow @frenchlanguage for daily French vocabulary and links to articles about French life and culture.
- @frenchToday tweets vocabulary and links to easy French stories you can use to practise your reading skills.
- Word Reference is a great place where you can find translations of French vocabulary, and discussions about the more complex language points.
- Some other useful mono-lingual dictionaries include Larousse and Le Dictionnaire.
- Médiadico is a dictionary which also includes audio recordings of words.
Typing French characters
- The website About.com has guidance on how to type French characters and accents on different types of keyboards.
- Catherine Ousselin, a teacher of French, has compiled a very extensive list of apps that you can use to learn French, divided into different categories, such as dictionaries, vocabulary, etc.
- The FlashSticks app is great for learning vocabulary and it also has a cool visual dictionary where photos can be translated into words. Great for beginners and lower-intermediate learners!
- DuoLingo is a great way to start your adventure with French. Check out my review of DuoLingo on Fluent in 3 Months for more details!
- Memrise is great for learning vocabulary with mnemonics and it’s fun too.
- La Conjugaison is an app you can use to learn French verb conjugations.
Reading: beginners and intermediate
- The website The French Experiment has some children’s stories that beginners can use to practise their reading skills. The stories are translated into English and accompanied by audio recordings.
- The website A Green Mouse also has some children’s stories which may help beginners get into the swing of things! They contain audio as well.
- The website 1 Jour 1 Actu is a news website for children. Adults may find it useful because of the simple language in which the content is written.
Reading: upper-intermedia and advanced
For the more advanced learners, a great way of practising the language is to keep up with the news in French. Here are examples of newspapers you can read online for free:
- Le Monde
- Le Figaro
- La Libération
- The website About.com has some reading exercises for intermediate and advanced learners.
I’m going to keep updating this list as I come across more free resources for learning French. I hope this is enough for now, though! Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to be the first to find out when I’ve updated this list!
Take care French learners.