Looking for online French courses?
Well, prepare yourself for some serious options.
Get ready for the sheer variety that can be had in the world of online French learning.
You can have the support structure of a class and the freedom of independent study.
You can have convenience, quality and a learning program that suits your specific needs.
Yep, when it comes to an online French course, you can have it all.
Whether you’ve reached the end of your self-study materials and you’re looking for a next step, or you’re jumping into online learning from scratch, you may need a little help choosing the right course for you.
Never fear. Solutions are here!
What Do I Need in an Online French Course?
Welcome to the online French course: fun, interactive and, best of all, easily accessible. However, not all French courses are created equal, and if you’re going to put time into a course, you want the best value possible, right? So you’re going to want to sign up for the best and nothing but the best!
Regardless of level, you want a French course that’s going to be about equal parts vocabulary and grammar. For those of us who really want to learn the language, a French “word a day” scenario isn’t going to be enough give us the results we want. Make sure your online French course that helps you learn useful vocabulary also gives you in-depth (yet easy-to-understand) grammar explanations.
Furthermore, good online French courses should also have ample exercises and activities built in so that students get a chance to practice the material they’ve been taught in the course. Remember: The best way to advance in a language is to practice it. What better way to practice newly-acquired words or grammar topics than by using them in activities and exercises that are especially intended for the material you just learned?
Ideally, an online course should have features that allow you to grow in the four language learning areas: resources for listening, speaking, reading and writing. Of course, it can be understandably hard to find online courses that allow in-depth speaking practice in French, and that deficiency is something you can fill through other means. But at the very least, reading, writing and listening to French are musts!
The 8 Best Sites for Online French Courses
Keeping in mind what a good online French course needs, here are my top eight sites for learners looking for the perfect course.
The first website offering French courses on our list is La Guinguette. La Guinguette offers three online courses for three levels of French: beginner, intermediate and advanced. No matter what level of French you’re at, La Guinguette has an option for you.
The courses at La Guinguette are primarily based around lessons that feature an audio conversation. Each audio conversation revolves around a particular topic pertinent to the French learner. Accompanying notes focus on the grammar and vocabulary in the audio conversation to reinforce concepts introduced in the lesson. Best of all, each lesson is also followed by online exercises.
Each course on La Guinguette has over 30 hours of audio that you can download as MP3 files so you have access to them at any time. Lastly, students also have access to La Guinguette’s archives, a collection of news articles you can use to further advance your French skills.
In case you don’t already know, FluentU French is a flexible online learning solution that lets you study the French language through the web’s best videos. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. It allows learners to learn French while seeing how it’s used in natural, native settings. It’s like immersion without the travel expenses!
The on-screen display allows you to see translations in real time so you can watch the videos and learn French at the same time. For each translation, FluentU offers in-context definitions and great examples so you can learn to use the kind of French you might hear in everyday conversation.
Best of all, FluentU’s Learn Mode has quizzes to test your understanding of each video. Since videos are available in a variety of formats and difficulty levels, FluentU is a great way for beginners to learn French and then continue with the course as they grow to intermediate and advanced status. FluentU is even available as an app.
Babbel is probably one of the most known and widely-used online language learning platforms worldwide. The courses on Babbel are paid courses, but instead of a set fee per course, there’s a monthly subscription fee that gives you access to a number of online courses.
Speaking of those online French courses, Babbel offers them to learners at the beginning of their French journey and at the intermediate level. In addition to those, Babbel also has a number of courses that focus on advancing a learner in a specific French skill area such as listening and speaking, grammar or idioms.
In terms of the structure of Babbel’s lessons, the specific layout varies for each course, but most beginner and intermediate courses feature a dialogue with audio coupled with grammatical and vocabulary-building opportunities. As with the other courses described so far on this list, Babbel’s lessons are followed by exercises to reinforce learned concepts.
Athabasca University is a real university in Alberta, Canada. Being primarily an online university, Athabasca offers a wide range of degrees and courses, and lucky for us, there are currently 16 courses offered for French. And you guessed it, all of those courses are offered online.
While technically you’re paying a university-course price, you’re also technically getting a university course. That means that each course is set up like a real university course. Most include online interactive classes complete with lessons, exercises and quizzes as well as audio and speaking components. Furthermore, the courses offer students interaction with the professor and other students.
Athabasca’s advanced courses may be a little less interactive, but they focus on material that you might not find in other online French courses. For example, you can fine-tune specific French skills, like writing and reading, and even take courses in French literature or culture.
Best of all, if interested, students can continue to take courses at Athabasca in order to complete an actual degree in the French language. Talk about legit.
While there’s a pretty significant application process, the government of Quebec offers free online French courses for those who are living in Quebec or planning to live there.
But wait, what if you’re not planning on moving to Quebec anytime soon? You can still access a ton of free exercises and helpful links that the Quebec government has made available to anyone.
Government courses and course materials are the best way to study a language academically apart from a university because they tend to teach standard language that learners will be able to use in functional, real-world environments.
There are courses and materials available here for many levels of French fluency, and each course offers listening, speaking, reading and writing opportunities, as well as quizzes and assignments.
The official courses are coupled with an online forum and an individual tutor for all your French-learning needs as well as a wide selection of online resources including dictionaries, verb conjugators and online grammar reference material.
Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Mellon University
The Open Learning Initiative offers two free courses for beginners in the French language called Elementary French I and Elementary French II. For these courses, the Open Learning Initiative combines standard online courses with multimedia interactivity. What better a combination is there?
Lessons in both courses revolve around real-world videos shot in French-speaking regions like Quebec and France. The courses take you through basic skills such as introducing oneself and food, as well as French grammar. These topics get more and more advanced as you get further into the courses. At the end, you’ll be well-equipped to enter an intermediate online course or follow an intermediate French self-study program.
The courses here also have exercises and an exam at the end of each to reinforce the material.
Alison offers a number of courses for those looking to learn French, starting at the beginner stage and offering a few options for more advanced learners. The Basic French Language Skills for Everyday Life course has six modules for students to begin their French adventure. For more advanced learners, Alison offers Improving Your French Language Skills and even a Diploma in French Language Studies to prove your competency in basic French.
For each course, each module includes a video dealing with a specific topic. Afterwards, the video leads to exploration of a particular set of vocabulary or grammar explanations. Such grammar topics include the present, past and future tense in basic courses.
The courses offered on Alison are fairly academic in nature. Each module includes an assessment, and learners need an 80% in all assessments to pass the course. You get more than one try, though, so fear not!
Click on French is a single course for beginners that’s available on the website or as an app for phones and tablets. Interactive lessons allow students to build vocabulary as well as see authentic French in natural settings through video and audio recordings. Each lesson also includes grammatical explanations with in-depth examples to help you understand the basic workings of the French language.
The best feature of this course is its interactivity. To help students speak French naturally, the course includes audio files as well as online teachers, so learners get immediate feedback. It’s also jam-packed with assessment tools such as tests. These tests are inspired directly by the DELF A1 exam, so once you finish, passing it should be a piece of cake!
Not a beginning learner? Don’t scroll past so fast: Click on French also offers a Pre-Intermediate A2 e-class.
With the above sites, you can basically attend a French class without leaving your home, but how much that class resembles a traditional one is entirely up to you.
So click away, and say hello to the best French courses the internet has to offer!
Michael Cristiano is a Canadian writer and language enthusiast. His latest ramblings on foreign languages and language learning can be found on his YouTube channel, The Polyglot Files.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.