French for Beginners: 20 Top Resources for Fast Tracking Your Fluency (Plus Tips)
Deciding to learn French is the first step. Now, you need a solid roadmap and the right resources to get you from newbie to conversational.
Starting from scratch doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
There are tons of high-quality beginner French resources out there—you just need to decide on the right one and be consistent.
So in this post, we’ll explore the 20 best resources for learning French for beginners. Plus, discuss tips for learning French successfully!
- Beginner Resources for French Grammar
- Beginner Resources for French Pronunciation
- Best Apps to Learn French
- Best YouTube Channels to Learn French
- How to Go From Beginner to Intermediate Level French
- And one more thing...
Beginner Resources for French Grammar
ToLearnFrench is one of the largest databases of free French lessons available online.
You can choose lessons about any topic you want, and new lessons are frequently added.
You can also practice your reading and writing skills with lessons from other users and professionals. If you open an account, you’ll have access to additional features including penpals and forums.
Each lesson is rated by its difficulty, from one to three stars.
You’ll also notice that certain lessons have A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2 in their title. This corresponds to the European method of rating language skill, with A1 being the easiest and C2 the hardest.
Links in each topic are complete lessons that include an introduction, written examples, audio examples and exercises.
2. “French in Action”
This book is currently one of the most popular textbooks for beginner French.
The book uses a video-intensive method developed by author Pierre Capretz, and it’s well-known in the French teaching world.
“French in Action” is a great one-stop resource that covers grammar and pronunciation while introducing you to French culture.
It’s definitely a complete French course. It should be the only book you need to learn French for beginners.
Make sure you do all the exercises, rather than skipping around, to get the full experience.
3. Lawless French
Lawless French is a website that has a grammar section full of in-depth explanations. There are grammar lessons for all six CEFR levels—from A1 to C2.
Before starting with a CEFR level, the website has a “Grammaire” section where you learn the absolute basics first, like parts of speech, negation, verb conjugations and more.
They also have grammar lessons organized by part of speech. So you can find plenty of lessons on adjectives, articles, nouns, conjunctions, prepositions and more.
Beginner Resources for French Pronunciation
If you want to learn to speak like a native speaker, you need to add italki to your bookmarks bar.
This website connects French learners with native speaker teachers at a wide variety of price points.
Lessons can cover any topic you want—including basic French for beginners.
Because students and teachers decide on the length and structure of their classes, you can get a French learning experience that’s totally curated to your needs and schedule.
Plus, each class is designed to be one-on-one, so you’ll get tons of individualized attention on your pronunciation from someone who knows best.
EasyPronunciation.com is a treasure trove of pronunciation practice for French learners.
The amount of tools they offer is impressive. For example, their French Pronunciation Tool will pronounce anything you type.
They also offer professional phonetic translation tools and, most importantly, pronunciation lessons. Note that some services are free and others require a subscription.
6. “Pronounce It Perfectly in French”
What’s better than a textbook devoted entirely to French pronunciation? That’s exactly what “Pronounce It Perfectly in French” offers.
Too many students wait until deep into their French studies to take a pronunciation course. But if you start early, you won’t develop bad habits that are hard to break later.
The book provides lots of audio examples that help with many of the hardest sounds for English speakers.
Words are introduced with the phonetic alphabet so you can pronounce them without problems. Many pronunciation exercises are also provided.
Think of Forvo as a French-English dictionary for pronunciation.
Just type in any word and several pronunciations will appear, recorded by native speakers with various accents. The word is also pronounced in an example sentence in the right column.
With Forvo at your fingertips, you’ll never have doubts about how to pronounce a word again. As a bonus, Forvo also has a section to learn useful travel phrases in French.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Best Apps to Learn French
Anything that reminds me of food is a winner in my book.
This app is perfect for listening and speaking because it uses audio clips of native speakers to help you with pronunciation.
At the same time, the interactive games are designed to improve your conversation skills and vocabulary. So you’ll memorize new words and improve your listening skills simultaneously.
MindSnacks also helps you master French gender, verb conjugations and other common grammar obstacles.
When motivation is low, Busuu will put you back on track. This resource is meant to be used when you have a brief moment to learn a tidbit of French.
Busuu’s Vocabulary Trainer will prepare you to use your vocabulary in real French conversations. It tests how well you’ve remembered the phrases you’ve already seen during your lessons.
To apply your talking skills, use the Conversations tool to record yourself saying something for up to 30 seconds, then send it to the Busuu community for corrections.
You can then respond with a recording to keep the thread of your discussion.
Verbling offers affordable spoken French lessons from a wide range of qualified French tutors, emphasizing conversation skills.
You can browse a list of French tutor profiles to find your perfect match. All profiles describe the tutor’s educational credentials, work experience, schedule openings, pricing packages and reviews from other students.
You’ll also see which tutors offer a free trial lesson (many of them do!).
Verbling lessons aren’t conducted over a plain old webcam. They have a virtual classroom-style interface where you can share notes, upload assignments, use flashcards and more.
Duolingo is a popular language learning app that offers a gamified approach to learning French.
It teaches you through bite-sized lessons that cover vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure. It also uses a combination of written and spoken exercises and offers a range of features, including a progress tracker and a leaderboard.
You’ll love the leaderboard if you’re competitive or enjoy participating with others. You have to make it to the top ten to advance to the next level, and you can see how you stack up against other learners.
Plus, your study streak keeps you coming back for more.
Babbel specializes in interactive, conversation-based lessons to help you learn French.
It covers a range of topics, including grammar, vocabulary and most importantly, conversation skills. The lessons aren’t centered around randomized vocabulary or grammar points. Instead, they give you the most relevant skills to start having French conversations in the real world fast.
The app also offers speech recognition technology to help you improve pronunciation.
Memrise teaches you tons of French vocabulary through its spaced repetition system.
You learn new words through flashcards, and Memrise’s review system quizzes you on the words you’ve learned at regular intervals to keep them in your long-term memory.
Memrise also has “mems,” which are mnemonics that make remembering words easier.
For hundreds of options, you can choose from French courses created by Memrise or user-created courses.
Best YouTube Channels to Learn French
14. Français Immersion
This channel is unique in its approach to teaching beginner French—I haven’t seen anything else like it on YouTube.
It’s an immersion channel, meaning that it teaches you the basics of French in French. The host, Thomas, uses exaggerated facial expressions, images and other visual cues to convey meaning.
As a beginner, you can start off with Learn French for Beginners, a playlist that currently has 74 videos and counting. These cover numbers, greetings, the alphabet, basic verbs and much more. There’s even a video for bathroom vocabulary.
15. Learn French with Frencheezi
This channel is a good option for learners looking for straightforward instructional videos that don’t need to be watched in order.
Or learners who remember some bits and pieces of past French lessons but need to fill gaps in their knowledge of the basics.
Cindy is a native French speaker who provides learning material and vlogs for learners of all levels.
You’ll find verb explanations, common vocabulary, practical advice and more. If you’re unsure where to start, there’s a playlist covering French for beginners.
This cute teacher-created channel helps you learn French basics with original drawings.
Videos range from straightforward grammar explanations to recipes, and the playlists are divided into subjects and series. You really get classroom-quality lessons.
17. innerFrench Video Podcast
This channel contains a fun mishmash of learning material that touches on aspects of French culture. The videos are a series of podcasts completely in French that come with transcripts.
This is an excellent resource for keeping your French studies going once you reach the intermediate level. You’ll find videos on “Le Petit Prince,” French cuisine, Uber and more.
18. French Truly TV
On this channel, Virginie answers common questions that French learners have.
French Truly TV also offers a fun selection of short individual videos that cover all kinds of material on grammar, culture, vocabulary and more.
This is a worthwhile channel to check out if you need additional explanations or extra practice on a French topic you’re learning.
This entertaining channel does travel-oriented videos, French-learning tips and language lessons. It’s an excellent resource for learning slang, linguistic tidbits and Paris-specific knowledge.
20. Just French It
Marie—the host of Just French It—provides an array of entertaining and funny videos.
The videos tackle real issues that plague French learners, like common mistakes and how to stay motivated, as well as interesting cultural and historical subjects.
Anytime you feel discouraged about learning French, swing by Just French It. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing and ready to jump back into your studies.
How to Go From Beginner to Intermediate Level French
Once you’ve started studying beginner-level French, you’ll probably start wondering what to do next.
Here are some ways to push yourself beyond the beginner level.
Look for college-level French courses
If you get to a point where you can’t advance, look into taking a college-level French class.
In a real class, you have a teacher who can identify your mistakes in real time and correct them. This is a huge advantage when learning grammar and pronunciation.
You’ll also make friends who are learning French. You can stay in touch with them even when class ends and practice speaking or writing together.
Study French abroad
Even if your French is still beginner, going abroad is a great experience.
You’ll realize how French is actually spoken, and you’ll learn tons of vocabulary words you might never have encountered otherwise.
There are many ways you can go abroad besides being a tourist, such as:
- Teach English in France temporarily. If you’re looking for something more long-term, you could even contact English schools in France and see if they’re hiring for permanent positions. Websites like GoAbroad are a great place to start finding information.
- Find temporary work through websites like Workaway or HelpX. If you want to learn French while also picking up another skill—anything from hotel management to beekeeping to sustainable farming—this option is for you.
- Search for work as an au pair. This is an excellent option if you love kids. Check out AuPairWorld to get the ball rolling.
- Consider applying for a French working holiday visa. This is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the day-to-day life of France.
No matter how you go to France and for how long, you have to avoid the tourist route where everything will be in English.
Try to visit less touristy places and live like a French person. Do your shopping at local markets and interact with the locals as much as possible.
Immerse yourself in French
Try to incorporate French into every aspect of your life, wherever possible. During your commute, at work, while browsing on your phone—whenever!
There are several ways to do this.
You can read books in French or watch TV in French. You can even start with small changes, like setting the language of your phone to French.
Congratulations—you’re embarking on an intellectual journey that broadens your horizons and opens doors to new adventures!
When you learn a language, you don’t just learn new words. You adopt a new way of thinking.
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
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 learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally 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.