The 9 Best Books for Learning French in 2019

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Are you trying to learn French? Well, one of the most traditional ways to learn a language is using a book or textbook. Sure, there are many other options, such as enrolling in lessons, finding a tutor, using a mobile app, or even traveling. However, some people may want to learn the language on their own and might prefer using a traditional approach, such as using a book. The benefit of using a self-study book is that you can go at your own pace and study whenever you have the time. If you are one of those people who like learning from books and you want to learn French on your own, or have already learned some and want to brush up on your skills, here is a list of books that might be useful for you.

Best Overall: Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One

Complete French All-in-One

Practice Makes Perfect

The Practice Makes Perfect series has books for learning several different languages. If you’re looking to start learning French with a beginner book and then move on to other more advanced and specific books in a series, the Practice Makes Perfect Complete French All-in-One book might work for you. The Practice Makes Perfect French series includes: Basic French, Complete French Grammar, French Conversation, French Sentence Builder, French Verb Tenses, Intermediate French Grammar, and Advanced French Grammar. The Complete French All-in-One book is a combination of all seven books. It includes 37 lessons with more than 500 exercises. Their system relies on learning through lots of practice. The book also comes with an app that you can download, which includes flashcards to learn vocabulary and streaming audio with exercises to practice pronunciation.

Best for Grammar: Easy French Step-by-Step

If you are starting to learn French from scratch and would like to learn it using a traditional grammar approach, then Easy French Step-by-Step might be a good fit for you. As you can see from the book’s name, it has a gradual, step-by-step system for learning French. You start with the most basic grammar concepts and move forward one step at a time. The book presents concepts in order of importance, as well as more than 300 of the most frequently used verbs. In this book, you can also find many exercises to practice and quiz yourself, as well as many interesting reading passages. Students enjoy this book because it is simple and easy to follow, and also it is sold at an affordable price.

Best for Vocabulary: Barron’s Mastering French Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach

If you already have some knowledge of French but would like to expand your vocabulary, then you might enjoy Barron’s Mastering French Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach. As the name implies, the book is organized by themes, where you can learn the necessary vocabulary for each of 24 particular topics. Some of the themes included are business terms, medical terms, household items, food and dining, and transportation. The new edition of this book includes an audio MP3 that includes 10 hours of audio to accompany the book material, which will help you learn the correct pronunciation of all of the words you are learning. So if you’re looking to learn lots of French vocabulary, this book can definitely help you.

Best for Conversation: French All-in-One for Dummies

Some people really enjoy learning new things with the “Dummies” book series approach. If you are one of those people, there are several resources that can help you learn French: French for Dummies, Intermediate French for Dummies, French Verbs for Dummies, French Essentials for Dummies, French Phrases for Dummies, and French for Dummies Audio Set. French All-in-One for Dummies is a compilation of all of those resources in one book plus an audio CD. The French for Dummies series has a simple, straightforward approach to learn French, including speaking, reading, and writing skills. It also includes some content that is specifically French Canadian. Also, the audio CD is intended to help with your speaking and listening comprehension skills. 

Best for Self-Study: Berlitz Self-Teacher for French

The Berlitz Corporation is internationally recognized for its language institutes as well as books and materials for learning languages. If you are interested in the Berlitz system and want to use a book that was specifically designed for self-study, you might want to check out the Berlitz Self-Teacher for French book. The Berlitz system claims to be able to teach you the language in a natural way, not by using boring memorization and grammar drills. Instead, students should be able to learn grammar rules intuitively, so there are not many grammar explanations in this book. Their natural system aims to have you learn through conversations. Also, the book includes oral exercises as well as pronunciation tips.

Runner-up, Best for Self-Study: Teach Yourself: French Beginner to Intermediate

Another book that was designed to be used for self-teaching is the Complete French Beginner to Intermediate Course. This book, however, is for beginner learners who have already learned some basics of the French language and want to advance to intermediate level. If you buy the book you also get two audio CDs, and there is an online course that you can use with it as well. With this book you can develop your speaking, reading, writing and listening through conversations, vocabulary, grammar explanations and practice exercises. The methodology of this book is what they call the Discovery Method, which means you figure out the rules and patterns on your own in order to learn them better. And if you enjoy this book and its methodology, there are other French books in the Teach Yourself series.

Best for Visual Learners: Complete Language Pack: French

DK has a series of language packs for learning different languages, and they are all known for being very visually appealing. If you want to learn French and are a visual learner, you might want to check out the Complete Language Pack system for learning French. The book cover advertises that you can learn French in just 15 minutes a day. That is because their program is organized in 60 units that can be completed in 15 minutes each. The book is organized by practical themes, and it is based on simple but real everyday conversations. If you purchase the complete package you also receive a pocket-sized visual French phrase book and a guide to basic French grammar. You can also download two free apps that accompany the pack, with lots of audio that can help you practice your listening and speaking skills.

Best for Study Tips: Fluent in French

Fluent in French: The Most Complete Study Guide to Learn French is a book that was written by the creator of the popular French blog talkinfrench.com. Instead of just containing information about the French language, this book also provides lots of tips on how to better learn the language, such as help creating study schedules, different tricks and resources that you can use to accelerate your learning, how to stay motivated, and how to appreciate different sources of French like those that are found in the media. Therefore, it is more of a study guide than just a French textbook. So if you want a book that can help you get organized and make a plan for your French language learning experience, this might be the right book for you.

Best Multimedia: Living Language French, Complete Edition

If you enjoy learning using different types of media, then perhaps you’ll enjoy the Living Language program. This program has materials for learning several different languages. Their methodology was originally created for the U.S. Department of State but is now widely for learning foreign languages. The Living Language French, Complete Edition course goes from beginner to advanced level, and it includes three coursebooks, nine audio CDs and online learning material.

The book includes 46 lessons with review exercises and culture notes, a glossary, and a grammar summary. The audio CDs include vocabulary, dialogues, and audio exercises, and the online material includes flashcards, games, and interactive quizzes. The Living Language Method promotes learning essential words and phrases in order to be able to communicate from the start, and slowly build up your grammar and vocabulary to be able to have more advanced conversations.