Best Free French Learning Resources For Beginners


Free doesn't always mean good. It's free for you, but be aware that in many cases, it's a juicy business for the person/organization on the other end. So let's look at the "learn French for free" world out there. 

First of all, let me insist that there are a lot of good resources for advanced speakers of French. In this article, I am giving you my own personal opinion about how good they are for the beginner student of French.


Free phone/skype conversation exchange

Many sites offering language conversation exchange are blooming. And this is a great resource for advanced speakers who want to speak regularly to a real person. Unfortunately for beginners, it has its limits: the person you will speak to is not a teacher. They cannot explain your mistakes, and will probably not be able to adapt their French to your present level, hence making you feel you cannot speak any French, when in reality, with nurturing and encouragement, and a structured program, you can!

Free Podcasts, Blogs, Youtube etc…

Podcasts and Videos are a fantastic way to improve your French, but they are only as good as their "maker" is… And it's easy to get lost in the "fun", jump from links to links and forget you are there to actually learn some French. So always make sure you work with something appropriate for your level, and as with anything with audio, that the speaker has the accent you want to learn (Is he/she a native French, a Canadian, a Senegalese?

There are many different French accents out there). Also beware of English speakers - full of good intentions - who try to teach French pronunciation.

Free Online French Lessons

Today, with all the language learning sites, you are submerged with info, and free online lessons. Accessing the info is no longer a problem.

What is though is organizing it, and explaining the content in a simple and clear way. A good teacher/method should organize your head: guide you step by step through a proven learning path, and always check you master the first step before you move on to the next one. The info is only half the work.
So, be smart. Find a good site, such as this one of course to access the info. And then, invest in an audio method/ a group class/ private lessons to guide you along a logical learning path.

Free French literature

French literature is just too difficult for most true beginner. Even the over recommended "le Petit Prince" (one of my favorite books... but do you think "Aussi absurde que cela me semblât à mille milles de tous les endroits habités" is a beginner's sentence? It's a book less difficult than other French literature books, but still not appropriate to learn French as a beginner. I strongly believe there are more useful tenses and vocabulary to concentrate on at that stage.

French radio, newspapers, magazines, movies...

These fall in the category "have fun with French", not study French. Learning French with level appropriate tools is essential, and there is a really danger to sap your emerging self confidence in French when you don't.

Even the fantastic "Journal En Français Facile" de RFI is too difficult for true beginners. So listen to French songs and learn a few lyrics by heart, watch French movies with subtitles and see if you can recognize a word here and there, grab a French magazine at your dentist and get a flare for the latest French fashion… Have fun with the French related things that surround you, but I don't consider them serious "learning tools" for beginners.

So, yes, there are many free options to learn French. And I believe someone can learn a lot of French for free if they are well organized, have a good knowledge of grammar and follow a well thought course plan. But if all these free resources make great complement of lessons, ultimately, most people need guidance and can't organize the learning cursus all by themselves.

Most students are going to invest some money into a French learning program. So first, let's talk about French classes, tutors and immersion programs, then we'll talk about the best resources to self-study French.

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