The secret to learning any language is getting yourself into shape.
Every day, you exercise your French language muscles, training yourself to flex them at will.
As you grow stronger and more agile, you’re better able to follow the language’s various twists and turns and to avoid its common pitfalls.
When you were a beginning or intermediate learner, it was easy to imagine that learning French was simply about getting from point A to point B.
Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you understand that it’s not that simple. Fluency comes from within, and you have to find your inner French speaker.
At an advanced level, you probably still need some guidance, but you also need to make your own way. This balance can be difficult to achieve, especially when you’re at a loss for where to find appropriately challenging learning material.
There are some great resources out there to learn advanced French online, though, and many of them can be found simply by typing in a web address.
Using the Internet as an Advanced French Learner
When you were at a beginning or intermediate level, you were spoiled for choice. Quizzes, podcasts and online French lessons had to compete for your attention.
Now you’re lucky if you can find a guided exercise that truly tests your knowledge.
The fact is, there are actually a lot of advanced French lessons online. They’re just not always labeled as such. It’s also sometimes not clear the best way to make use of them.
One reason for this is that a lot of language programs are marketed toward those who are struggling.
Also, at a certain point in the language-learning process, traditional methods start to collapse. As the language you’re learning becomes more comprehensible, you naturally begin to integrate it into your daily life and it starts to become just another part of your personality.
It’s important not to fight this process, but to nurture it. This can be hard, though. In the advanced stage, you face the challenge of not just finding new learning material, but also fitting it into a regular routine.
Important Goals to Have as You Learn Advanced French Online
To stay on your toes, here are a few things to strive for as you explore advanced French lessons online:
Take Advantage of Your Freedom
At an advanced level, you need to get comfortable with using native content as your primary means of practicing French. This might sound scary, but really, it’s cause for celebration. Since you’ve mastered the basics, you can now refine your understanding of the language by exposing yourself to native material on a daily basis.
This means all the hard work you’ve put into learning French thus far is already paying off. So listen to whatever music you want, read whatever book you want, and watch whatever movie you want—even an action film!
In fact, using French subtitles can be a crucial way to learn new advanced vocabulary, especially if you regularly mine the subtitles for French words you don’t know. When using subtitles, it’s crucial to be able to get in-depth definitions and example sentences of the words you’re learning so that you gain context. These features are available on a program such as FluentU as seen in this video on FluentU French’s YouTube channel.
From now on, you’ll not only be able to reap the benefits of your hard work learning French, but you’ll be getting a further return on your investment every day that you spend enjoying those benefits.
Keep Your French Active
Simply exposing yourself to native content is already a big deal, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Since you’re not going to be primarily using guided tests and exercises, you need to make sure you’re actively engaging with the material.
That means you’ll need reliable reference resources to look up words you don’t know or check on your pronunciation. It also means you’ll occasionally still need someone looking over your shoulder, if only in the form of native speakers who can correct your language or clear up a usage issue.
Whether you’ve been learning French on your own or with a teacher, you’ve probably fallen into the habit of letting your practice habits be determined by a structure someone else has created. Now it’s time for you to be the boss! You need to take time every day to practice, and you need reliable resources that will help you do so.
With all that in mind, here are some sites that can be used to actively improve your French as an advanced learner.
10 Powerful Sites for the Best Advanced French Lessons Online
French Reference and Quick Refreshers
These first three sites make up the ultimate online French reference trifecta! You can use them to find answers to questions about vocabulary, word usage, pronunciation and grammar. While reading or listening to native French content, it’s always best to figure out meaning and usage from existing context, but if you’re confused, it’s good to have backup. So keep these sites bookmarked to consult whenever the need arises!
WordReference is an online dictionary that provides examples of word usage, as well as forums in which people can discuss usage in specific contexts. The forums require users to follow strict rules in order to keep the topics helpful and easily searchable.
Each word or phrase you type into the dictionary automatically draws up a list of forum discussions pertaining to that word or phrase. Besides being a reference tool, WordReference has the added bonus of creating a whole community of French learners like yourself. Even if you go there for help, you might end up helping someone yourself, and making some new friends while you’re at it!
Forvo is a site that lets people all over the world provide native pronunciations in their own languages, along with information about precisely what region they’re from. This means not only can you check the pronunciation of a French word, but you can also hear how that word is said in different parts of France or in other countries.
Bon Patron is a French spelling and grammar checker that allows you to paste in a paragraph of French text and see if it contains any obvious mistakes. It highlights the incorrect parts of the text, and you can hover above each part for a quick explanation or suggestions for changes.
Like any automated tool, it has its limits, but it’s a good resource for advanced learners who will quickly be able to recognize their errors without a lengthy explanation.
Advanced French Lessons and Support
As an advanced learner, you’ll be much more independent, but you’ll need some help and structure, too. The following two sites for advanced French lessons online provide just that. They also allow you the freedom and flexibility of making decisions about your learning process, and to experience how French is used by native speakers firsthand.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the French language and culture over time. You’ll learn French as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with FluentU's adaptive quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning and play the mini-games found in the dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
As you study, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a 100% personalized experience.
It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Lang-8 takes over where Bon Patron leaves off. On Lang-8, you can have your writing corrected by native speakers who will catch not just outright errors, but other potential problems with your French—even if it’s just awkward phrasing. This retains some of the comfort factor of knowing you’re not entirely on your own, but it’s still you who decides what to write and how often. You’ll also get varying perspectives on French from those who speak it every day.
Pure Native French Content, Piping Hot
As an advanced French learner, you need fresh, reliable content daily. Here are five of the best sites for finding that content out in the world.
When it comes to watching French TV online, you have a lot of options, but none as consistently reliable as France 24. True to its name, France 24 broadcasts French (and international) news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can tune in at any time for the full experience of watching French TV, commercials included.
7. French BuzzFeed
Okay, so this is actually a good resource for all levels, but an advanced learner will be able to make especially good use of it by getting through a lot of material in a short period of time. Like its English counterpart, French BuzzFeed taps into specific facets of modern culture and reveals examples of current, real-world language in easily-digestible lists and news bites.
While you may be under the impression that reading BuzzFeed in English is junk food for your brain, reading it in French may just be the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.
You may be familiar with France Culture primarily as a radio station, but there’s also ton of content to be found on their website, both in audio and text formats. You can search their page by category (literature, art, history, science, etc.), read articles and listen to clips or full episodes of previously broadcast programs.
If you’ve been learning French with audiobooks (and if you haven’t been, you really should start!), make sure to check out “Les bonnes feuilles” in the “Littérature” section, a series that features recently published authors reading their books out loud.
9. Popular on YouTube – France
Another resource for narrowing down the vast ocean of French content created by native speakers, this YouTube channel will help you keep up with the biggest, freshest videos from France.
The channel only displays a few of the most popular videos at a time, so you won’t get overwhelmed. On the flip side, if you’re hungry for more, YouTube will recommend related French videos after you start watching this channel regularly.
You may have already heard about some popular French YouTubers like Cyprien and Norman. Another fun one is Studio Bagel, a channel that releases funny material on a regular basis, including parodies of movies and pop culture.
Le Monde is one of the leading newspapers in France, and one of the leading providers of news content online. Their site doesn’t just feature articles, but also captioned slideshows and videos. It’s updated frequently, and on every visit you’ll be presented with fresh material.
The key to getting from an advanced level to fully fluent is immersing yourself in native French content every day. No matter how you choose to do this, it’s important to do it regularly.
See how simple it really is to learn advanced French online? By exposing yourself to new lessons and material all the time, you’ll be staying engaged and training yourself to interact with the world from a French point of view. Check the above resources frequently, and you can rest assured that your well of advanced French language content will never run dry!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.