Are you a literary fanatic?
Do you love nothing more than curling up on the sofa with a good book?
So, why not make double use of this nifty commodity by utilizing it to learn French at the same time?
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner or somewhere in between, reading can be one of the best ways to improve your French, as it teaches you new vocabulary, reinforces sentence and grammatical structure and helps you contextualize words and phrases.
There are many different ways to learn French using a Kindle, and below we’ll look at the basics.
I’ll take you through three super helpful resources, along with some suggestions for each.
Kindle Your French! 3 Reading Tools to Spark E-learning
Resource #1: French E-books for Learners
These can be a huge help for language learners because they often provide individual lessons divided into subjects, offer different approaches to learning and studying and suggest methods for practicing what you’ve learned.
Below are a couple of my favorite instructional books available for Kindle, each with a very different approach to learning.
These are great tools for learners, as they each contain numerous intriguing stories with varying themes, such as food, jobs, family and traveling. This ensures that you’re exposed to a plethora of new vocabulary.
Both books include a French and English glossary for any words you might not understand, so that you don’t have to search for them in a separate dictionary.
What’s more, there’s a very handy vocabulary recap at the end of each chapter to solidify new words and phrases and make sure that you fully understand what you’ve just read.
Listening to audiobooks is another great way to learn French, and one of the biggest bonuses to purchasing these books for Kindle is that they’re each accompanied by an audio recording.
Furthermore, the audio recordings of each story include two different versions—a slow version to help learners improve pronunciation and better follow along, and a natural-speed version to practice listening to the language as you would normally.
With all of these perks, it’s not a bad deal at all, as these Kindle editions currently only cost around $3.99 (free with Kindle Unlimited) on Amazon!
If you’re looking for an even lower-cost Kindle option, Jagger’s “Learn French Step by Step” is available for free with Kindle Unlimited (otherwise it’s still only $2.99) and it’s an excellent choice for beginners or for higher-level speakers seeking a thorough review of the basics.
This book will take you through the initial process of learning French and includes a couple of unique sections, such as a history of the French language and a look at how English has been influenced by French.
“Learn French Step by Step” covers all of the basics, starting with the alphabet and pronunciation and ending with the essential grammar rules and verbs.
Along the way, you’ll also learn how to ask questions, form negatives, understand gender and plurals and distinguish between formal and informal French.
It’s truly a great guide to French, and it’s hard to beat the price!
Resource #2: French Dictionaries
There are many French dictionaries available for your Kindle and it’s very important that you have one on hand at all times when learning the language.
See, the wonderful thing about putting a dictionary on your Kindle is that you have the option to go to your settings and make it your default dictionary.
That means that whenever you’re reading on your Kindle, you’ll be able to conveniently look up any French word just by touching it, and you’ll never have to leave the page or flip to another resource.
If you’re looking for a great dictionary, you can’t go wrong with this ever-popular Merriam-Webster’s currently available as a Kindle edition for $5.99, which is one of the cheaper options among the high-quality dictionaries.
It includes more than 40,000 entries and 50,000 translations and provides plenty of contextual examples of French words.
Just be aware that it only works when looking up French words to see their English equivalents. In other words, if you want to search for English words first and have their French counterparts shown, you’ll need to purchase the English-to-French edition as well.
However, if you’re reading in French (which is the idea, after all!), you really shouldn’t need the second edition.
While there are many free ways to learn French through reading, there are unfortunately not many free French dictionaries available for Kindle.
(I will note, however, as a positive, that all of the ones for purchase are really very cheap.)
However, there is one completely free one, the “Dictionnaire de L’Académie française.” It’s only available in its eighth edition (1932-1935), but is still a good free option. I recommend downloading it because it will certainly cover most basic words you’ll need to search for, as these haven’t changed over time.
Secondly, it’s extremely helpful with older books, as it contains older French vocabulary as well. Surprisingly, this older dictionary may even serve you better than a modern one when reading the French classics!
Resource #3: French-language Literature
Along with the support of instructional guides and dictionaries, the best thing you can do to learn French with your Kindle is to simply sit down and read a French e-book for pleasure.
Luckily, there are thousands of French Kindle editions available at a low cost or for free, and you can certainly find something that interests you.
If you go to Amazon’s website, you’ll see that you can easily search for French Kindle editions under the Foreign Language Books section.
From there, you’ll be able to refine your search for things such as new releases, children’s books, nonfiction, travel and much more.
You can also go up to the search bar from this page (which will now be preset to French books) and type in something very specific, such as “French Kindle instruction” or “French Kindle classics.”
While there’s an endless number of books available, below are a few must-read French Kindle editions.
Most of us are already big-time Harry Potter fans and would jump at the chance to re-read this great classic.
If you’re not already in love with all things Hogwarts, then chances are you will be after reading this first book!
For any muggles (non-magic folk) out there, this story follows the life of a young boy who discovers that he’s a wizard and subsequently joins a special school for witches and wizards while unlocking the secrets to his mysterious past, facing unspeakable trials and discovering the power of friendship.
The book is perfect for those trying to learn French, as it’s written for young adults and therefore uses a simpler sentence structure.
For those of you who are familiar with the book series, it can be a great way to learn a new language, as, already knowing the storyline, you can contextualize words you don’t understand at first glance.
There’s truly no better way to remember new French words than by associating them with something that you love, such as “Harry Potter” or another English favorite.
What’s more, reading your translated favorites (or any other French-language book) on Kindle comes with a lot of benefits. For example, you can easily save phrases you don’t understand and would like to return to for further study.
You can also make notes by highlighting words, which is a great way to keep track of any new vocabulary you learn. Try going through your highlights and notes later on and quiz yourself to see if you remember what they mean!
The Kindle edition of “Harry Potter à l’École des Sorciers” is currently available on Amazon for $8.99.
If you enjoy reading it in French, you’re in luck, as the entire series is available in French e-book format!
If you really want to immerse yourself in French culture, you have to embrace France’s great literary classics, one of the greatest being Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary.”
This novel was first published in 1856 and was written by one of the most famous and iconic French authors of all time.
The story follows Emma Rouault as she marries Charles Bovary and discovers that her expectations of a luxurious and passionate marriage are far from realized.
To cope with her despair and what she finds to be an incredibly dull marriage, she begins having an affair and is carried away by her romantic fantasies and her search for a fulfilling love.
This must-read is available for free on Kindle and is an excellent choice not only for its literary genius but also for the fact that it’s perfectly accompanied by the “Dictionnaire de L’Académie française,” which I mentioned above is also free.
If you have this dictionary to reference while you’re reading, you won’t be intimidated by the higher-level French and you’ll have everything you need without spending a dime!
If you really feel you aren’t ready to take on a big classic like “Madame Bovary,” or even something at the level of a Harry Potter book, try a French children’s classic like “Histoire de Babar” instead!
This super cute book is currently available for Kindle for just $2.99 and is a great read for those seeking to learn and practice lower-level French.
The story follows everyone’s favorite little elephant, Babar, who escapes from hunters and eventually finds his way back home, where he claims his position as king of the animals.
If you enjoy this charming kid’s book, then you’ll be happy to know that there’s another one from the same series, called “Le Voyage de Babar” (“Babar’s Trip”), which is available for Kindle as well.
It’s clear that the Kindle can be an excellent resource for learning French, as it offers some of the cheapest, high-quality tools for learners of all levels.
Now that your head is full of ideas, it’s time to start downloading and enjoying some relaxing Kindle time comme les français!
Camille Turner is an experienced freelance writer and ESL teacher.
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