Ah, the old vicious Internet cycle.
Too many of us end up trapped here. Heck, you might even be trapped right now.
How many times have you been caught in the endless cycle of clicking from email to Facebook and back again?
Ready to put all that screen time to good use?
Then it’s time to learn French online!
You might already be watching French TV online every once in a while, and your French Internet slang might be improving by leaps and bounds, but get your clicking finger ready: French websites are where it’s at for mastering the French language.
When choosing a website for learning French, bear in mind that not all websites are created equal. Choosing a website is just as important as learning how to use each individual website. Luckily, we’ve got you covered in both cases.
The 10 Best Websites to Learn French for All Occasions
Whether you’re a beginner just setting out on your voyage to understanding French grammar or you’re a French pro looking to brush up on a few less familiar topics like that ever-elusive simple past, a website can be a great place to start.
Websites for Learning French Grammar
This is a fantastic resource for all levels, including grammar lessons and exercises to practice what you’ve learned. We love it because you can start using it as a beginner, and it can then accompany you all throughout the French learning process.
This British site uses the European scale of French level: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. For those who would like to add a dose of French immersion to their repertoire, it’s interesting to note that a certificate proving a level of at least B2 is required for French university, while C1 is required for a French Masters degree. Knowing your level on this scale can also be important if you decide to take French classes in Europe.
This is the perfect quick click when you just need a refresher on a more complicated grammar structure.
It doesn’t offer exercises so that you can practice. The idea is more to be able to click on an idea in a list of topics that often pose problems—like the imperfect, near future or adjective usage—and then quickly review what you already know.
This resource is great for beginners and early intermediate learners who just need a bit of a crutch to support information that they’ve already acquired, and it’s also ideal for advanced and nearly fluent learners who want to brush up on their French and maintain their hard-earned skills.
This one offers fantastic resources for French teachers, but if you’re teaching yourself French it’s also a great stop. It’s definitely worth mentioning that this site offers lesson plans and activities to practice what you’ve learned.
While these plans are targeted for teachers, they’re very easy to use as a self-taught student. They reduce the boredom that can come from following the same textbook activities day after day.
To top it all off, the exercises and activities are quite varied, meaning that you can come back to this site again and again to use new resources.
No list of the top websites for learning French would be complete without FluentU.
This favorite language learning website offers real-world French videos to help you learn French via total immersion. The authentic video content here—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—is all turned into personalized language learning lessons.
One major outcome of using FluentU is total mastery of French grammar and vocabulary. That’s because you won’t just be watching your favorite videos passively—you’ll always be actively learning more about the French language. There’s a learn mode which is designed to help you learn, practice and reinforce the French language you’ve been exposed to in your chosen videos. This feature boasts great active learning tools like multimedia flashcards and vocabulary lists.
Another major plus to using FluentU is that the resources don’t just stop at teaching you the ins and outs of the language. All the videos here were originally created for a native French audience. This is video content that native speakers actually watch on the regular. That means you’ll be learning tons of about French culture and society, popular culture in France and informal French speech heard on the streets.
One quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content found on FluentU:
Love the thought of learning French with native materials but afraid you won’t understand what’s being said? FluentU brings authentic French videos within reach of any learner. Interactive captions will guide you along the way, so you’ll never miss a word.
Tap on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more. For example, if you tap on the word “suit,” then this is what appears on your screen:
Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU’s learn mode to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video with vocabulary lists, flashcards, quizzes and fun activities like “fill in the blank.”
As you continue advancing in your French studies, FluentU keeps track of all the grammar and vocabulary that you’ve been learning. It uses your viewed videos and mastered language lessons to recommend more useful videos and give you a 100% personalized experience. Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
It’s a very well-rounded language learning experience, and you’ll find yourself speaking much more authentic French after studying with this program.
Combine FluentU with your favorite French website resources, and your online French learning experience won’t only be fun and effective—it’ll be complete.
French Websites for Learning Idiomatic French
One of the most exciting things about being a language learner in the age of the Internet is that resources can be updated constantly. No more using textbooks from the 80s trying to convince you that yé-yé is a hip and modern trend—current French slang and idiomatic expressions are within your reach… if you know where to look.
For beginners, this is a fantastic place to start. Blagues (jokes) are essential to learning a new language, and while many people say that humor is the hardest thing to learn in a foreign tongue, there’s no time like the present to give it a try! Carambar are caramel-flavored candies similar to Tootsie Rolls that traditionally have fun facts and quick jokes on the insides of their wrappers. Because they’re mostly targeted to children, these jokes can be fairly easy to understand.
Because the candies aren’t all that available outside of France, use this website to access the jokes, which tend to be on par with knock-knock jokes as far as language level and humor are concerned.
But do watch out! Many of them rely on jeux de mots (wordplay) that takes advantage of the fact that many words in French sound the same. All of the jokes are submitted by fans of Carambar, so if some of them fall flat, you needn’t jump to the conclusion that your French learning has failed you.
For the more advanced French learner who wants to explore French culture as well as language, La Connasse, a show produced by private television channel Canal +, is a great place to go.
On this site, you can stream the short episodes of this show, which follow the titular character of the connasse, a woman who humorously exhibits all of the characteristics of a shrewish modern French woman. Her antics are hilarious and her loud, clear voice will allow even some intermediate learners to follow.
If you want only the most modern of French slang, then you might want to pay a visit to Vie de merde, the French site that spurred the creation of the anglo equivalent, FML.
As the stories are all submitted by readers, you’ll be getting only the latest French slang and idioms. One thing to bear in mind, however: as with the anglo version of the site, VDM is not always written by the most grammatically astute of readers—you’ll be seeing quite a few spelling mistakes. Use the site to get a handle on expressions and new, hip vocab words, not as a place to practice your French grammar and spelling skills.
Best Websites for Learning about French Culture and Current Events
Learning a language has long been divided into four categories—reading comprehension, writing, listening comprehension and speaking. But Dr. Thomas Garza introduced the opinion that a fifth crucial element should be included: culture!
How can you master French without knowing a bit about French culture? These websites will help you master this element of the French language.
This is an easy way to introduce tidbits of information, from random facts to current events, into your daily life. We love this site because they also have an app, making it easy to access these quick bytes of information on your daily commute or while waiting to pick up your fast food order. Because the information given in this app is so short, this site can be used by beginners as well as more advanced students. As a beginner, you may have a bit more translating to do, but you’ll be adding to your vocabulary arsenal as well!
The aforementioned Canal + also produces a short news segment during its Grand Journal where the latest infos are read by puppets.
This has long been a favorite for fans of comedic news shows (think The Daily Show with marionettes). Because they are describing recent news stories, you can always check with a news source in your native language to make sure you understood what was being said. But don’t be surprised if humor is more important here than verity — a key to fully understanding this show is understanding the French penchant for l’humour décalé.
Few are the French lovers who didn’t hear about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. What some don’t know is that the idea of a satirical press has long been important in France.
The most widely read satirical newspaper in France is Le Canard enchainé, whose title stems from a play on words whereby a press news source is called a canard (duck). While you can’t read the whole paper online, you can see la une (the first page), which is usually more than enough, considering how much satire and circumstance you’ll have to decipher.
This is the ideal web resource for advanced French learners with an eye to improving their French and being able to speak with native speakers about current events.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.