Learn French

Would you like to learn French, or to improve or just freshen up your oral French skills? After two years of learning French, I would like to share some resources and learning techniques that have helped me on the way. First I’d like to say that French is not the easiest language to learn, but don’t be discouraged, there are fun ways to do it!


Why not try Duolingo? It’s a free application that gives you reminders to do your daily practice, and you can chose to play it on your mobile or on your computer. Here you learn through reading, typing, listening, speaking and guessing, and you can even compare your score with friends who are also learning a new language. It’ll only take you a few minutes per day!

You would love to, but you just don’t have the time, you say? Do you still find time to spend on social media? Watching television shows? Well, then you can do it!

Facebook language settings

Take for example Facebook. Why not change the language setting to French? If it’s too big of a step, find French groups and pages that interest you, and that’ll feed you French news in your Facebook feed on a daily basis. Read the text in French before you click to see the translation to look up the words you don’t understand yet. Your subconscious will work for you, believe me!

If you like a more oral and “passive” approach, let me suggest a few series to learn French, all which can be found on Youtube:

Extra French

A serie that reminds me a little of “Friends”. It’s quite easy, and very silly, but for me it was nice to actually understand the lines, after feeling like an alien amongst French speaking people when I first arrived in France.

Easy French

In spite of its title, this show isn’t “easy”, but with real life interviews subtitled in both French and English, you still have a chance to follow the conversations, and you certainly get to train your French listening skills! As with all videos, you always have the chance to pause or replay whenever you feel like it.

French in action

This one has actually become a cult series! It was produced in 1987, and features an awesome professor and the daily life of a French family, especially the eldest daughter. Nothing beats the music, though 😉

Language City

I love the guy Alexandre giving French lessons here, he explains enthusiastically in English and French, and has helped me understand many of the spoken French’s shortcuts. The example below is for advanced learners, but he does excellent beginners classes as well.

Don’t care much for fictional silly series or the classroom feeling, or just want some variation with more in-depth interesting subjects?

Et tout le monde s’en fout

“And nobody cares”: It’s brilliant, funny, and comes with subtitles in several languages! Make sure to check out all the episodes 😉

Have you come to the point where you seem to be stuck? Try a different approach, like actually diving into some grammar. Might seem boring, but if you find the right source, it can help a lot.

For English speaking readers I recommend the book Easy French, step by step.

For Norwegians reading this, let me suggest Fransk språklære: grammatikk og kommunikasjon. It’s old fashioned, but amazingly enough a bit entertaining! Said the bookworm.

And if you feel you understand lots of French already, but have trouble getting the words out and/or feeling shy/scared/embarrassed to talk to someone in French, then talk to yourself! I’ve had many monologues spinning in my head, long before they ever came out of my mouth.

And when you get over the fear of talking and doing plenty of errors, you’ll discover that little beats learning how to speak another language as actually speaking it! And invite people to correct you, as they would with a kid who is still learning to speak in their native tongue.

Don’t know any French speakers nearby? Join/start a practice group! Use Meetup, Facebook, a poster at your local grocery store or any other means that you can think of to connect with others that want to practice. Meet regularly to talk, at a café, at the dinner table or via Skype, or why not come visit us?

Interestingly enough: It might actually be easier talking French to non native speakers, as they often will use simpler vocabulary than the French themselves.

Already in France? Get yourself a card at the local bibliothèque and read books suitable for your level, even if that means books for three-year-olds…

Enjoy taking baby steps into a world where you are able to understand and communicate with French speaking people!

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