The French culture is known for romance, fashion, cuisine, art, all in all making the French language very useful and interesting to learn. However, learning a new language can sometimes be an expensive endeavor.
But, if you really want to learn French, there's a smarter way: by utilizing the free resources all around you! Read on to discover six ways you can learn French for free, and find the best option for you.
Online Courses and Apps
If you don't have the money to sign up for in-person French courses, online French lessons can often be a cheaper alternative. Online courses can be highly structured, but they're a good fit if you like a traditional lesson format with the ability to self-pace your learning.
Many will even still include recorded videos and audio examples from a teacher, and some will have forums where you can connect with other learners for a more class-like feel.
However, if you're after an alternative to the traditional course structure itself, then turn your attention to the language learning app! Apps are the perfect learning tool for anyone with a busy schedule looking for ways to practice French on the go.
With a language learning app, you can do fun exercises right from your mobile device. Apps offer a variety of content formats, too, so you can find one that suits the way you want to learn, whether it's memorizing French words from flashcards or speaking French along with audio examples.
The only downside to these options is that while most do have free content available, you'll have to pay to access additional features or to complete more than one segment a day. So, they're best to use in combination with another method.
Find a Language Exchange
Language exchanges offer the amazing opportunity to not only learn French for free but also help someone learn your native language in return. Working with someone else who wants to learn a new language is a great way to stay motivated on your learning journey while you learn more about the fascinating French culture.
Rather than a student-teacher dynamic, you'll both be helping each other improve, asking each other questions, and just talking. Plus, switching between your target languages will give you a bit of a break when you need it.
If you don't already know any native French speakers who want some help learning English, then online forums are the perfect place to find a language partner. While there are some websites specifically dedicated to this, don't limit yourself to just those.
Anywhere online that you talk with other people about TV, fashion, food, music, etc. is a potential place to find a language partner. And, the best part is that you'll already know you have something in common.
This unique way to learn French online is best for intermediate learners since you'll want to be able to hold at least a simple conversation with your language partner. It might be challenging at first, but you won't only be learning to speak French -- you'll also be making a new friend!
Free Video French Lessons on YouTube
YouTube connects people from all over the world and contains videos on nearly any topic imaginable, so it's the perfect resource for audio-visual learners. If you want to learn from a native French speaker but don't have access to a personal French teacher or don't like the structure of a formal language course, then this is the perfect option to explore. There are tons of great French language learning channels out there for French learners at any level.
For beginners, French lessons on target topics like French verbs and vocabulary will help build a strong foundation with the help of an engaging teacher. But, for intermediate learners, there are also videos with a more casual format, where you can improve your knowledge just by listening to people have real-life conversations about etiquette, culture, and the French way of life.
An advanced learner might even check out channels talking about complex topics like politics and science! Plus, one of the best things about YouTube is that if you need help on a specific topic, like French phrases to say in a particular situation, finding one is as simple as using the search bar.
Library Books And Public Resources
No need to spend money on expensive textbooks or English-French dictionaries -- check your local library first! You might even be able to find French resources like French movies, music, audiobooks, and other learning materials.
Additionally, your library might offer fiction books in multiple languages to help you practice. Look for classics like Le Petit Prince which were originally written in French; children's books are an excellent way for beginners to get comfortable reading in French.
The beauty of getting language learning materials from the library is that you have full control over where and when you'll use them. You can study right there in the library or check them out so you can learn right in the comfort of your own home. Just be careful not to lose anything.
One final perk of utilizing public resources is that your local library or community center may even help lead you to some of the other free resources we've mentioned like foreign language classes or a language exchange meet-up. Next time you're there, make sure to talk to a librarian, look for a bulletin board of events, or simply chat up someone else checking out the French section!
TV, Movies, and Music
Regardless of your personal learning style, taking a multifaceted approach to language learning makes it much more effective. That's why it's important to use all your senses, including sound and sight! Watching French movies, TV, and music gives you the opportunity to hear the language from native French speakers in (mostly) realistic environments.
Overall, creative works are one of the best ways to diversify your French vocabulary and get used to shifts in dialect and tone. But, the best part about this tactic is that you can customize it to work with your current level of knowledge and the areas you most want to improve.
For example, if you already have a solid grasp of French grammar but struggle with correct pronunciation and understanding native speakers, you can listen in French with English subtitles to really focus on what you're hearing.
On the other hand, to improve your speaking skills and French pronunciation, read the French subtitles and try to pronounce things the same way you hear them said. If you can, watch the actors' mouths and try to copy exactly how they make certain French sounds.
French is the official language in 29 countries from more than three continents and world regions. So, especially if you started learning French to take a trip or out of interest in the local culture, visiting a French-speaking country is an invaluable language-learning experience.
This option is most suitable for advanced learners, so it can be an excellent goal to help you stay motivated on your language learning journey. As a French learner, traveling to a French-speaking country will let you put all you've learned into practice. Having real conversations with native speakers will not only push you to perfect your grammar and pronunciation -- you'll also be able to learn French slang, try authentic French food, and experience French culture firsthand.
While traveling does generally cost money, there are some ways to obtain this experience for free--or even get paid to do it! If you're in school, see whether there are any study abroad programs or scholarships offered.
You can even do it without traveling at all by finding free local classes that use intensive immersion techniques or creating your own short-term immersion by consuming only French media.
The Bottom Line
Have any ideas yet? Whether you're an advanced learner who wants to challenge yourself with French media or a beginner who's not ready to commit to a paid service, we hope this list had something for you!
And, we can't forget to mention our favorite free resource of all: Langster! Our CEFR-graded language-learning app lets you learn through entertaining stories accompanied by audio from native speakers, instant translations, and grammar explanations.
So, what are you waiting for? Download Langster, and start learning to speak French today!