Top French Learning Resources For Self-Studying


If you don't want or cannot study French with a tutor/ a class or in immersion, selecting the right self-studying method is essential, and you should spend some time analyzing what is out there and not just take the first thing available.

If you want to communicate in French (and not only pass exams or read in French) learning with audio is a must, since there is a huge difference between book French and spoken French, and traditional methods will not prepare you for the way French people actually speak today.

French Language "Paper" Books

Are a great and relatively cheap way to improve your French.

With Amazon delivering to your doorsteps, it's so easy! I still recommend books to my students to train on a specific point of grammar, and do exercises. For all the rest, in my opinion you need audio.

French Literature, Books for Children and French/English Bilingual Books

I talked about "Le Petit Prince" in my previous article. If you are and advanced speaker, reading in French is excellent for you, and you'll learn a lot of vocabulary.

Under that level, books written for the French are just too difficult for most students, and risk leaving you with a feeling of failure.

Most bilingual books series have taken free copyright books and translated them into English. They were not typically books written for students. So they are still very difficult, and will often feature older French vocabulary and expressions: always be aware of when was written the book you are reading, and take this into account when learning the vocabulary!

Stop with the myth of "easy" children books! Children books are easier because they use short sentences, but that's about it. Not all children books are easy… Of course, it depends on the book, but would you recommend Dr Seuss to a beginner in English? 

French Audiobooks and Audio Magazines

A fantastic resources, granted it has been created for the French student.

Anything developed for the French people is going to be way too difficult for a beginner/intermediate student of French, to the point of being overwhelming and discouraging.

There are however some audio magazines to learn French, such as Think French (I record for them so you'll hear my voice there) or Bien Dire, or Fluent French Audio (more suited for high intermediate students in my opinion though), and level adapted French audiobooks and audio novels such as mine - my "À Moi Paris" series and "Une Semaine à Paris".

French Audio Methods

Are ideally the best tool for the self-learner. A good audio method should teach you vocabulary and grammar, if possible in context, and of course pronunciation. It should be fun to use, direct you through a well proven learning path, nurture your self confidence.

Because they involve a lot of work, these methods are usually quite expensive, so I would only recommend you choose things with a "100% money back guarantee" or at least a trial period or extensive samples.

I've heard very good things about Michel Thomas and Assimil, and I will not forget my own, French Today.

Now Rosetta Stone is everywhere because they pay people to recommend their products (affiliate method).

I personally believe it's a great and fun tool to develop your vocabulary, but it's very light on the grammar side, which may be a great thing in other languages, but is a true problem for French.

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There are of course many other methods to learn French. As I have been repeating, you need to do some research and find out what methods best fits your needs, goals, time and budget, but hopefully this series of articles will help you ask the essential questions and avoid pitfalls. Good luck with your French studies!