Free Resources For Learning French At Home
We all know that one of the best ways to learn French, or any language for that matter, is through immersion. But how do you create that immersive environment when you don’t live in a country where that language is spoken without hurting your wallet?
Here are the methods I use to learn French while living in the US.
Chatting with native speakers
With all the free language exchange apps available, there’s no excuse for not being able to speak with native speakers when you’re living in your home country. Below is a list of apps I use/have used for finding native French speakers.
Additionally, many places have meetup.com groups for French language exchange. This is the perfect way to put your speaking skills to the test with real live natives. And if you live in a major city like Los Angeles or Chicago, check out your local Alliance Française for even more opportunities to meet fellow francophones.
I spend an ungodly amount of time watching YouTube videos, so naturally I try to find French equivalents to my favorite English-speaking channels. Find a subject matter you enjoy (beauty, travel, fashion, science, vlogs) and there is bound to be a French equivalent. Some channels even have French subtitles, which can help with listening comprehension.
In addition, most of these Youtubers also post frequently to Instagram/Snapchat stories, so of course I follow them there as well for even more content.
Here are some of my favorite French channels, broken down by subject matter. Channel with an asterisk (*) generally have French subtitles.
- Marie Anne Oohlala* – French YouTuber who has many vlogs about her life in Korea and now Taiwan. Some videos are subtitled.
- Ma Vie Aux États-Unis – French YouTuber who studied in the US who talks about his experiences.
- Alexandre Calvez – French YouTuber who tests a variety of unique products.
- Knoetzie – French YouTuber who posts both vlogs and beauty videos. Her two sisters also have their own YouTube channels.
- CAM c’est elle – French YouTuber who talks about her experience living in Montréal
- Damon and Jo* – Best friend duo from the US who make videos in several languages.
- Patricia B en Français – American living in France who makes both beauty videos and videos comparing France and the US (in French).
- Comme une Française*
- Français avec Pierre*
- Français Authentique*
- Easy French* – Interviews with French speakers about everyday topics.
TV5Monde: TV5Monde is a French television network which also offers tons of material for studying French.
rfi: Similar to the above.
WordReference: Great English-French dictionary. Also has a forum for asking French questions.
Netflix: Believe it or not, Netflix has a decent selection of French film and TV shows. Some even have French subtitles to help with your listening comprehension. Some of my favorites are Call My Agent!, Chef’s Table France (both have French subtitles!), and A Very Secret Service. (Free for those of you “borrowing” your friend’s Netflix account.)
Courses and Studying Abroad
I know some of you out there want to avoid classrooms like the plague, but hear me out for a second. Finding the right type of class can be the perfect complement to your self-study.
- italki: One-on-one lessons from French tutors and teachers (not free)
- Coursera: Coursera offers both free and paid university-level courses in several languages. For example, the École Polytechnique offers a free course titled Étudier en France for intermediate/advanced French speakers.
Okay, so these aren’t free, but they are worth checking out. Though I don’t really use many textbooks, I really like the books published by CLE International. For example, here is a list of the advanced (B2) books they offer.
If you happen to be in Paris, check out the Gilbert Jeune @ 6 place Saint-Michel. They have a huge selection of French-learning books to choose from. I bought two Compréhension Orale books when I was there.
Another French classic is the Assimil series. Their method relies mostly on dialogues for picking up vocabulary, grammar, and phonetics.
These are obviously not free either, but worth mentioning.
- Traditional classes: Find out if there are any community college, an Alliance Française, or French schools in your area.
- Study Abroad: If you’re a high school or university student, consider looking into what programs are available to you through your school.
- Intensive French courses: In the spring of this year, I attended two intensive French courses in France, one in Tours, and one in Paris. Classes were Monday through Friday and generally either in the morning, or both morning and afternoon. Both offered host family housing options, which again is perfect for using real life French. I will say that my speaking skills improved greatly, due to the fact that you’re forced to only speak French.
- WWOOF: Though not a class, you’ll have the opportunity to practice a language by working on a farm almost anywhere in the world.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you have any other resources you use, feel free to leave a comment below!
This post is not sponsored in any way.