Teachers, language exchange partners, tutors and study partners.
Any one of these French language aficionados can help you learn French better.
Learning French is certainly easier and more fun when you’re surrounded by passionate people.
And being able to have conversations in French takes your learning to a whole new level.
The whole point of learning a language is to be able to communicate with others!
This is facilitated by some of the best developments in language learning technology in the last couple decades—now there’s a wealth of collaborative language learning tools available online. You can easily find and join a community of people with the same goal in mind: Learning French.
Our favorite places to go for French support are forums. Sounds basic, but they work.
You might have participated in other online discussion boards where the conversation is centered around a specific topic. But have you taken full advantage of the forums that focus on French?
There are so many options! All you have to do is type “French forums” into Google and your screen will be instantly flooded with choices.
We’re going to help you narrow down the possibilities so that you can find the right place for you!
How Do French Language Forums Help You Learn French?
It’s amazing how few people realize that forums exist in the first place!
Fundamentally, language learning is a collaborative effort. Reading what other people have to say, listening to their experiences and getting answers to your own questions will help you stay on the path to French success.
There are many ways that these communities can bolster your French, but here are a few of those pros:
- Learn the out-of-classroom strategies of other learners in your shoes. We all know that a lot of language learning happens outside the classroom. It can be overwhelming to think of how you should spend the time you allot to independent study. Forums provide strategies and accounts from other learners. They’ll have ideas that simply aren’t found in textbooks.
- By participating, you practice your French reading and writing skills. I think this goes without saying, but by participating in forums, you’ll read (and hopefully write) a lot of French.
- Forums go into much more detail than any book or class could. Forums simply contain more information because the questions asked are highly specific. For example, a textbook will summarize the differences between savoir and connaître, both of which mean “to know” in different circumstances, but only on forums can you ask about the nuances of each one. Often you’ll find that there’s more than one correct answer as native speakers will also have differing opinions.
- By learning with others, you get a realistic idea of your French level. It’s easy to fall into the trap of overestimating your ability if you study alone. Joining a community, especially forums, gives you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses because you can compare yourself with other learners.
How to Get the Most Out of French Language Forums
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do almost everything. When used correctly, French language forums can offer valuable, one-of-a-kind information. If used incorrectly, they can be a black hole of wasted time. Read on to find out how to make the most out of forums.
- Recognize which aspects of French you want to study. Of course you have to study every aspect of French. But once you reach an intermediate or advanced level, you have a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses. As you’ll see below, different French forums specialize in different aspects of French, like writing, grammar, pronunciation, etc. Choosing the right forum gives you access to the information you need.
- Do your research first. It’s best if users spend time browsing the topics before posting questions. I’ve found that forum members aren’t as eager to help when you ask basic questions that can be easily found in textbooks (or they’ll tell you that the topic has been covered many times). Forums are best used for tricky situations that aren’t covered in class. This is what stimulates the discussion that’s the lifeblood of any forum.
- Make sure to “network.” Learning new skills is easier when you have “study buddies” because you can practice together and commiserate. As a learner, one of the hardest things to do is find someone to practice French with, but forums put you in contact with a lot of people. I’ve met people on French forums that remain my friends to this day.
6 All-star French Learning Forums to Guarantee French Success
As I explained before, the internet is awash in French language resources. There are many great forums to choose from, but I’d like to share some that I’ve used personally and discuss why I think they’re great options.
If you don’t feel ready to tackle these forums, or if you want some additional support in your learning, FluentU is one online resource you shouldn’t miss.
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.
The forums below tend to specialize in different topics, so it’s up to you to find the best communities to meet your learning goals.
WordReference is one of the greatest French learning resources out there. It has the most complete French-English dictionaries I’ve seen, including idiomatic expressions and slang, as well as conjugations for all verbs. As can be expected, the WordRefrence forum is an incredibly active forum; I use it almost daily.
The WordReference forum has active subforums in vocabulary and grammar. One aspect I particularly like is the “only French” section where you’re forced to write in French.
If you scroll down to the French section, you’ll see that the “French-English vocabulary” section is the most active, which makes sense since WordReference is a vocabulary site. In this section you’ll find any and all vocab-related questions, including regional vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Simply type in what you’re looking for in the search bar and see if there’s a thread.
French Language StackExchange
French Language StackExchange is a question-and-answer website in the same vein as Reddit or Yahoo Answers. As of today, it offers 433 pages of answered French questions. All the questions are organized by tabs at the top of the page. For example, by clicking on choix-de-mot (“word choice”), I find several questions about the best word to use in a given situation.
One of the biggest advantages of this forum is that users can only answer questions if they have enough “reputation points” (which means they know what they’re talking about). Here you can rest assured you’re getting correct guidance.
French Linguistics is similar to French Language StackExchange except that it focuses more on grammar and isn’t as much of a catch-all. I found that, although there are fewer pages of questions (273 vs 433), the questions tend to have more answers than those of French Language StackExchange.
A distinct disadvantage of French Linguistics is that you can’t sort the questions by topic. But if you want a grammar-specific forum, French Linguistics might be just right!
French Linguistics distinguishes itself from other forums by its unique categories. If I click “View” then “Categories,” I find unique topics like “Translation Help,” “French Conversation Tips,” “French Learning/Teaching” and “Exam Tips.” Usually forums don’t have such topics, preferring to stick to vocab and grammar. This could be your one-stop French learning resource!
Reddit is probably the biggest online forum out there. They’ve got forums for everything you can imagine, including French. The Reddit French forum is great for general questions about French learning, which makes it great for beginners.
But Reddit French also offers more advanced grammatical topics. A distinct advantage of Reddit French over other forums is that it’s very graphical, like all Reddit forums.
Upon entering the Reddit French page, two distinct advantages stand out. First, like French Language StackExchange, users can up-vote and down-vote comments, which is incredibly useful for learners looking for factual information. Also, in the right-hand column, you’ll find a whole host of external “Learning Tools,” including related Reddit forums.
Laura Lawless has done a great job creating an all-inclusive French learning site complete with games, listening practice and much more! She also hosts a great forum covering French grammar and linguistics. Although there are other subtopics here like French culture, the participation isn’t as active.
The forum at Lawless French sets itself apart for being part of a complete French-learning website. At the top of the forum, just click on the various links to see everything that Lawless French has to offer, from daily articles to verb conjugations.
Last but not least we have Lingaholic, a great up-and-coming site that offers forums for several modern languages. Its biggest strength is its general discussion, where you can ask whatever you want about the French language. But apart from this, there’s also a sub-forum for French literature and the French Lounge: a unique sub-forum where native French speakers are encouraged to correct the mistakes of non-native speakers.
Lingaholic is perhaps the best forum for really relating to other French learners and sharing their experiences. In the “French Language/General Discussion” thread, you can read how other people learned French and why. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in learning French, and if you find something difficult, other people have experienced the same feelings.
If anything, you’ll find that there’s a whole world of French learners out there waiting to collaborate. It’s been said that active participation improves learning outcomes, and I believe it.
By adding forums to your language learning recipe, you’ll be improving in no time!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.