One of the issues I’ve found – and have heard others complaining about on various online forums and groups – is finding time to commit to a regular class. With two small children to occupy, a business to run, along with a house to run and another to build, time here is pretty limited! Despite all that, my French is slowly improving to the point where I can now have a relatively interesting conversation with my friends and neighbours – within limits, anyway. Here are the tools I’ve been using that have contributed to my progress. The best bit is they’re all free and they’re available to everyone.
1. Livres Audio Francais
If you search Spotify, YouTube, or any other audio application, for the phrase above, you’ll most likely find a list of audio files. These are audiobooks narrated in French! Because many of them will be targeted at children, you’ll find well-known stories, such as Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs, in clear and simple language.
If you don’t have much luck finding them yourself, you can subscribe to my playlists on Spotify: one for adults, one for children.
2. Free Podcasts
There are some really great podcast resources out there. I have two particular favourites: Learn French by Podcast and Learn French with Daily Podcasts.
These both have subscription options, which give you access to additional resources via their website but they’re perfectly sufficient without forking out.
Both follow similar formats: conversations that are broken down piece by piece. I find that at the beginning when they first rattle through the conversation, I understand about 30%. By the end, when they go over it again, my comprehension has improved. Like the stories, the podcasts are a really great way to improve listening skills and, if you take the opportunity to repeat the phrases as they work through the podcast, you’re feeding your brain quality French and all that helps to build vocabulary. Recall will follow!
3. Reading Aloud – anything
Seriously, it doesn’t matter what it is, just pick it up and read it – aloud. If you struggle with any pronunciation, check it online. It’s best to learn the correct pronunciation rather than making it up and learning it wrongly. That’s why the audiobooks and podcasts are useful because by listening we start to tune our ears to the rhythm and phrasing of the language.
4. Easy French Readers on the Kindle
You don’t need a Kindle to use the Kindle: there are apps for tablets and also desktop and online versions ( https://read.amazon.com/).
If you search for French Readers in the Kindle Store you’ll find a small but growing list. These are simple stories targeted at graded reading levels. Yes, you can buy them – but you can also download samples. Because these are usually collections of short stories, you usually get at least one complete chapter.
Read them quietly to yourself – or aloud. Because the French is simple, it all goes in and is time well spent!
5. Talking to French People!
This smacks of stating the obvious but really, there it is. If you do all the above (even without any formal learning), you’ll be using your French, digging deep into the recesses of your brain, finding the words, actively listening, which adds up to learning. It might make your brain hurt but its no good putting it in if you don’t try and take it out again. Most people are more than happy for you to try out your burgeoning skills and will offer guidance along the way. If you’re stuck, try and say things using the words that you have. If you’re living in France, there’s really no excuse. ‘The thing to do is to go for it!
Note: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. I only link to resources I myself use and receive a teensy amount of money for any purchases, which doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps me keep up this blog going.