The English word “immersion” comes from the 16th century Latin verb immergere meaning “to plunge into” or “to dip into.”
It’s only fitting, then, that those wishing to learn French—a language that developed from Latin in the 9th century—would want to plunge headfirst into it!
In fact, the best way to learn French is to be surrounded by French.
That could mean traveling to a French-speaking place or moving abroad.
But what if I told you that immersion can be created at home and you can learn French online?
In fact, FluentU is one of the leading programs for learning French in an authentic environment, and it can be used to create an in-home immersion experience!
Learn French Online in 2020 with FluentU’s Immersive Program
How can you create an immersive environment in the comfort of your own home—nay, from your couch? Check out these simple tips and let FluentU French immerse you in the language!
Take Advantage of Video Lessons
The first thing you’re going to want to do if you’re a beginner French learner is to take some French classes.
“But, wait,” you say. “I thought I didn’t need to leave my couch?”
Correct! Simply plug in some headphones and you’re ready for class!
On FluentU, there are short video lessons for beginner French learners. In fact, these videos act as a French teacher for your immersion environment, except unlike a real French teacher, you can rewind and re-listen to certain parts that you’d like to hear again.
The video lessons can be completed in chronological order or on a topic of your choosing. Best of all, French and English subtitles can be toggled on and off for better understanding of the content or for a challenge if you want to try to understand without any subtitles at all. Each lesson includes a comprehension quiz to reinforce understanding and practice new skills.
Verb conjugation can be one of the trickiest parts of learning French. If learning verb tenses or moods—like the subjunctive—is stressing you out just from reading this sentence, FluentU has you covered.
FluentU’s video lessons show you how verbs conjugate depending on different subjects, and they also give you a sampling of the most common verbs and their conjugations.
Think fast: Is table (table) a masculine word that takes le (the) or a feminine word that takes la (the)?
True, for English speakers, a table may just be a table, but FluentU’s video lessons help you navigate the world of noun gender in French. Primarily, it shows you how une and la are used for feminine nouns and un and le are used for masculine nouns.
Best of all, in-app dictionary entries indicate if a noun is masculine or feminine, so you won’t have to guess any longer.
Table is feminine, by the way. I know: a female table is a weird concept, but it feels almost natural after a while.
Common Vocabulary Lessons
Aside from lessons about French grammar, FluentU also has video lessons for topics such as “Everyday Life,” “Fashion & Style,” “Food & Cuisine,” “Health & Lifestyle” and “Travels.” This is fantastic for learners who want to use French in common and travel situations.
Business Vocabulary Lessons
Are you learning French for a business trip or for expanding your professional activities into a French-speaking community? FluentU also has video lessons for topics such as “Business” and “Politics & Society.” This is fantastic for learners who want to use French in professional settings.
Specialized Vocabulary Lessons
FluentU also has video lessons for topics such as “Arts & Entertainment” and “Science & Technology.” This is great for learners who want to use French in particular specialized settings such as appreciating French art and culture.
Additionally, there are also video lessons in “Humor” and “Kids.” I recommend using the vocabulary lessons for kids since they typically have simpler and more useful vocabulary.
Create Immersion Online Using Real-world French Videos
Once you’ve taken your daily online French lesson, head on over to the “Videos” tab. This space includes dozens of authentic French videos such as commercials, movie trailers and clips from TV shows and movies. In fact, these videos act as the real-world media for your immersion environment!
Unlike a traditional immersion environment, however, you can control the level of French you surround yourself with. Choose the appropriate level for you: Beginner 1, Beginner 2, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Advanced 1 or Advanced 2.
Videos cover many topics, such as culture, travel and lifestyle, so you can also choose content that you’re actually interested in.
I suggest watching your chosen video with subtitles in both French and English. Next, rewatch the video with only French subtitles. When you’re ready for a challenge, watch the video a third time with no subtitles.
Then, take the comprehension quiz to make sure you understood the content correctly.
Access Clear, Slow Audio and Podcasts
Watching videos is great, but what about getting some listening practice done while completing household chores or during your work commute?
Simply browse FluentU’s audio content in the “Audios” tab. Like FluentU’s video collection, choose your level from a list of six and select a topic that interests you. The audio clips can be used in tandem with the video lessons for reinforcement and for on-the-go learning. Audio also comes with subtitles in English and French.
Test Your Knowledge in an Online, Safe Environment
I’ve mentioned this only in passing so far, but after each video, audio or video lesson, it’s beneficial to complete the quiz to practice new vocabulary and grammar from the video or audio.
The quizzes have questions that require manual input, choosing from multiple-choice options and selecting the correct word order for translation. These quizzes act as trial situations for real-world interactions with native speakers, and they provide a safe scenario to make mistakes before taking your knowledge to the world.
Review Online with Flashcards and Spaced Repetition
In addition to reinforcing the language through quizzes, FluentU uses spaced repetition to optimize learning. Spaced repetition is a scientifically-proven method for retaining new vocabulary in French, and with FluentU, it becomes an effortless process.
When watching a video or listening to an audio, you can turn all French words in the subtitles into flashcards. Clicking on a word allows you to see its translation, sample sentences, grammatical information and even other videos that use the word.
When you’re ready, you can review the words in your flashcard vocabulary list. If you’ve already learned the word, add it to “Already Known.” New words can be sorted into the “My Vocab” list.
If you don’t want to create your own flashcard deck, many of the videos, audios and lessons have already-made, corresponding flashcards.
The best feature of all is that continued revision of flashcards in “My Vocab” eventually turns them into “Known Words.” In fact, the “Fluency” bar tells you how close you are to making a word “known.” The flashcards are also great for learning the words in an authentic environment as sample sentences are provided to help you along.
Make Learning French Online a Habit
The best way to benefit from an immersion environment, whether real or artificial, is to be immersed for a long period of time. With FluentU, continued immersion is easy because you earn points and maintain a learning streak to encourage you to make meaningful progress in French.
A streak helps you keep a consistent study schedule, and with learning French, consistency really is key. Remember, it’s better to immerse yourself in a little bit of French each day than do a lot of immersion only once in a while.
I recommend reviewing flashcards often and watching videos or listening to audios more than once for maximum exposure. Use the “Playlist” tab for easy access to already-watched videos and to listen to audio again.
I bet not even the Romans could have imagined that immergere (immersing) oneself in French could be this easy. Try FluentU today and learn French online by creating the immersive environment you’ve always dreamed of!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.