You’ve heard all the old sayings.
Practice makes perfect…
You play the way you practice…
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice…
Well, that’s all fine and good if you’re learning to pitch strikes on the ball field or mastering scales on the piano.
But if you’re a French student, it’s not like hopping over to Paris to try out your listening skills or accent is always an option.
Nice as that would be!
Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for honing your French—all you need is an internet connection. In this post, I’ve compiled a list of online options that’ll help any French learner get the practice they need to become fluent.
No matter your learning level or language goals, you’ll find helpful (and free!) online exercises here.
The Benefits of Exercising Your French Skills Online
- There are exercises available for every skill level. The internet has become every language learner’s best friend. With the right online tools and dedication, you can start from scratch and learn a language to proficiency.
Most of the resources I’ll mention in this post include the appropriate skill levels, usually using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which divides skill levels from A1 (beginner) to C2 (expert).
- So many online French exercises are free. Either they’re hosted by nonprofits like universities or they make their money from ads. I made a point of only including free resources in my recommendations below to make things easier for you.
- You can choose what you want to study and practice. This is a huge benefit the internet has over conventional classes—there’s no lesson plan. Or, I should say, you make the lesson plan.
Online French exercises tend to follow a theme, like grammar practice, conjugation, etc. That means you can pick and choose the topics that are most interesting to you, or focus in on your French weak points. This is especially advantageous for intermediate to advanced learners who have a good idea of what specific topics they need to practice.
- You’ll never run out of online resources. The biggest problem you’ll have is knowing where to start and which exercises offer the highest quality. Fortunately I’ve provided a list of grade A exercises that I’ve personally used. Read on to find out!
How to Make the Most out of Online French Exercises
Since there are so many online French exercises out there, it can seem a little overwhelming. So what’s a good strategy to follow? Obviously everyone is different, but I’ll give you the inside scoop on the strategies that worked for me.
- Do at least one exercise every day. It might not be scientific, but I believe in daily practice when learning a language, especially when you’re not taking formal classes. If you commit to one exercise a day, you can at least maintain your French level until you have more time to study.
This shouldn’t take more than 10 to 30 minutes. If you can do several exercises a day, not only will you maintain what you’ve already learned, but you’ll also build your skills further.
- Practice with a diverse set of writing, reading, listening and grammar exercises. The exercises I’ve included here have many different activities, and I did this on purpose. A learner has to study every aspect of French, otherwise they won’t have overall improvement.
Building on our last tip, it might be a good idea to do one exercise of each type every day. And as I said before, you won’t run out of new exercises.
- Supplement with other interactive learning tools. Online exercises are so effective because they force you to actively apply your French skills. You won’t successfully complete the exercises unless your skills are up to snuff.
To build on this type of learning, look for other French tools that have interactive elements. For example, if you enjoy watching French movies or videos, try out a tool like FluentU. This platform provides real-world French videos—like movie trailers, funny YouTube clips, news broadcasts and more—that come with clickable captions you can use to learn the definition and pronunciation for any new word.
The videos also come with tailor-made flashcards and exercises to make sure you retain what you’ve just watched. It’s an awesome way to have fun with French and hear the language authentically, while developing your vocabulary and grammar in a focused way.
- Take the quizzes at the end of each section. Online French exercise resources often include quizzes to solidify the concepts you’ve just practiced. When offered, these can be the most important part of the exercises because they let you know if you’re ready to move on.
The key with language learning is: don’t move too fast. Make sure you understand before trying another exercise. We all want to make quick progress, but sometimes that can lead to frustration and learning bad habits.
Supercharge Your French with 6 Stellar Online Exercise Sites
Fine Tune Your French Grammar at BonjourDeFrance:
BonjourDeFrance is one of my favorite French learning sites. It takes beginners by the hand and guides them through a logical progression of French study.
You can choose your level and complete appropriate exercises.
All the exercises are divided according to the CEFR scale noted above. It’s one of the few sites to explicitly do this. So if you don’t know what your level is, start with A1. If that’s too easy, move on until you reach a point where you need to study.
In fact, this is how many standardized language tests are conducted to determine your level. They give you A1 level questions, and they get progressively more difficult until you start struggling.
It’s the best site for learning French grammar, which can be a stumbling block.
BonjourDeFrance dedicates itself to teaching French grammar. Often grammar is a major stumbling block for English-speaking French learners, because without prior exposure to Romance languages, many people think you can replace English for French word for word.
This isn’t the case! I’ve often heard English speakers say something like Je m’appelle est Stephen, which would translate literally to “I call myself is Stephen.” Je m’appelle Stephen (literally: I call myself Stephen), is the correct way to say “My name is Stephen.”
At BonjourDeFrance, you’ll get tutorials on essential, foundational topics, as well as very niche concepts that’ll push you over the line to fluency. They also seem to anticipate some of the hardest concepts for French learners (like getting the pronouns en and y mixed up, or how to use temporal markers correctly in different situations).
As a side note: a lot of students try to talk fast when they start speaking French, or at least as fast as they would in their native language. In my opinion it’s actually better to slow down and think about everything you say. By doing this you’ll build good grammatical habits.
Each lesson is designed by professionals, with one exercise leading to another.
This is important because you know you’re getting quality content. The professionals are well-trained to design exercises that’ll most help you learn. In the case of BonjourDeFrance, the content creators are seasoned French teachers.
Don’t take my word for it! From the homepage, click your language level. Now you’ll get a list of lessons—click one that looks interesting to you. Scroll all the way down and you’ll see a bio of the person who created the exercise.
Practice What You Want at To Learn French:
To Learn French is great for intermediate and advanced students who want more flexibility in what they study.
Choose from a variety of exercises covering every aspect of French learning.
I’m recommending this one for intermediate to advanced speakers because they should already have an idea of what specific French topics they need to focus on.
Let’s say you’re an intermediate speaker. On the homepage, you can mark “intermediate,” and let’s also say you want to study “nouns.” On the dropdown menu, click nouns and “Find,” and all intermediate lessons relating to nouns will appear.
tolearnfrench.com might not be the best choice for beginners who are developing all of their foundational skills—although they do offer beginner exercises, so you can start getting your feet wet and just take a break if you get overwhelmed!
Because the lessons are user-contributed, you’ll never run out of exercises to complete.
Although the users might not all be French teachers, they have the skill level and the passion to create lessons for you—more than 9,500, as of the writing of this article! That’s a lot of French practice.
Looking for Exercises Designed by Professionals? Check out Columbia University’s Interactive French Site:
Columbia is a respected authority on French learning.
Columbia University’s French department (whose doctoral program is ranked 10th in the nation by the Chronicle of Higher Education) has been an authority of French studies since 1890. Not only are they experts at teaching the language, they also have extensive knowledge of French and Francophone culture.
All of their lessons are designed by French experts.
Sure, the online exercises at Columbia aren’t as numerous as those on To Learn French, but they’re authoritative. They were designed by Ivy League scholars with experience in French language education.
Unlike other sites, Colombia’s online exercises give answers with explanations.
This is something I always appreciated when learning, but unfortunately not all websites with online French exercises do this. It’s very important to read these explanations and not skip over them. By doing this, you can effectively study on your own without making the same language mistakes over and over.
Like BonjourDeFrance, the lessons let you advance step-by-step.
Let’s say we wanted to start with the basics at Columbia University. From the homepage click on “Ch1. Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns” and try the exercise, then scroll down to see the answers with explanations.
If you continue scrolling, you’ll see an explanation of the vocabulary used. You can then study the following chapters, moving on to trickier subjects like the subjunctive.
Looking to Have Fun While You Learn? Try Your Hand at french-games.net:
french-games.net incorporates exciting games into their lessons.
Sometimes instead of just doing exercises, I want to play games while learning French! Fortunately, there are many great options for online French games, but I swear by my favorite, french-games.net. Another great aspect of french-games.net is that the games are well designed and visually engaging.
It’s a refreshing break from standard exercises, and it helps you learn just as much!
Choose which themes you want to study or practice at random.
The site can be a little daunting to use, but here’s the rundown:
From the homepage, click on “Topics.” From there, you’ll see themes (like food, animals, etc.) and you can select your proficiency level.
If you just want to hone your general French skills, you can also do that. Scroll down on the homepage to access the most popular lessons and games as well as newly added games.
They’re designed to be part of a larger learning plan.
Unlike other French game sites, french-games.net doesn’t just throw games at you without context. Rather, they’re incorporated into comprehensive lessons. You start by selecting a French topic you want to focus on, and then you get a tutorial on that topic. Afterwards, you can practice what you’ve learned with the fun games.
However, if you want, you can skip straight to the games! Just hit the “Games” button on the top of the homepage.
Prepare for Standardized Tests at Ciel Bretagne:
Practice French with exercises tailored to the standardized tests.
It’s often hard to find free study material related to standardized French tests. After all, people usually buy costly materials because these tests are so important. Fortunately, our friends at Ciel Bretagne have us covered with test-specific online French exercises.
Ciel Bretagne is unique with its focus on professional, business French.
Much of what tests like the TCF covers is “real world” French. That is, the French you’d hear in an office.
This makes sense because it’s assumed that those taking standardized tests do it for professional or academic reasons. Test sections might include listening to a conversation or actually speaking to an interviewer. What’s often absent from these tests is nitty-gritty grammar.
Ciel Bretagne takes this into consideration with lessons like “How to write a postal card” or “Public transportation.”
Lessons include not only reading but also listening comprehension.
From the homepage, if you scroll down, there’s a section called “Listening Comprehension” where you can listen to real dialogues and answer questions.
Be warned, for these to work on your computer or device, you’ll need Flash.
All lessons are designed in France by professional native speakers.
What’s interesting about Ciel Bretagne is that the site is hosted in France and designed by native speakers from Brittany. This isn’t the case in a lot of online French exercises, and it means you’re getting an authoritative, authentic learning experience.
Looking for Grammar-specific Practice? Check out Lingolia:
A lot of people want to practice their grammar skills in particular. I’m the first one to admit French grammar can be challenging! Fortunately, our friends at Lingolia have us covered!
Although a work in progress, Lingolia aims to be a comprehensive online resource for grammar and writing in many languages, including French.
Unlike other sites where you click the answers, at Lingolia you write them.
Here’s something not all French exercise sites have: the ability to write answers! This is great because it’s more memorable than if you were simply clicking a multiple choice answer.
Starting at the introduction, click “Tenses,” for example. You’ll find each main section is divided into several sub-sections.
If I click “Le Présent“ I’ll find a very detailed lesson about the French present tense. Scroll down to the bottom and click “Le Présent: Mixed Exercises.” Now you can see that you’ll be filling in the blank with the correct verb conjugations in the present tense by typing them out. After these exercises, you’ll have those tricky spellings and accents down pat!
All major aspects of French grammar are covered.
Of all the sites I’ve reviewed here, I’d say that Lingolia French offers the most complete free grammar course with exercises online. There’s literally a semester’s worth of grammar content here and it’s a great starting point for someone who doesn’t know anything about French grammar.
All answers are given with explanations.
Much like with the Columbia University exercises, all answers come with explanations so you’re not left in the dark. Make sure you read through them and understand them before moving on.
Every exercise is preceded by a lesson with lots of great examples.
I touched on this above, but Lingolia French is great both for beginners and intermediate/advanced speakers who want to brush up on their grammar skills. Here you don’t have to look through other sites to find grammar information because Lingolia is a comprehensive source. I’ve always recommended that French students take a course on grammar because it’s so easy to move too fast without mastering grammar basics.
Online French exercises are the stepping stones that take you from basic French to independent French. In many ways they replace the textbooks of yore. Obviously there are more resources out there, but if you check out the above sites and stick to your study plan, you’ll make solid progress!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.