Will your trip through intermediate French go smoothly?
Looking ahead, the course you’ll ultimately end up taking in your studies might seem unclear.
The advanced level is still a tiny dot in the distance, and you probably can’t even imagine what it’ll take to get there.
But the truth is, you have complete control over your learning and how well it turns out.
It’s all down to how you pack.
That’s right. In order to progress as an intermediate learner, you first and foremost need to have the right tools.
You probably already know that getting from intermediate to advanced is going to take some time, so it’s important to prepare for the journey.
Whether books, programs or authentic materials, the best tools will keep your brain active and alert, ensuring you’re ready to meet new challenges every step of the way!
Key Features to Look for in Intermediate French Learning Tools
Opportunities to focus on grammar
At the intermediate level, it’s incredibly important that you start taking grammar really seriously. Higher levels of French include more complex sentences and structures. Therefore, you should be armed with great grammar resources. Taking time out to focus specifically on grammar might seem trying at first, but it’ll help hugely in the long run.
At the intermediate level, you may have noticed that French natives tend to speak a little faster than you do! So it’s essential to take the time to get used to how they speak. Listening at the intermediate level is incredibly useful when getting to grips with more complicated words and grammar points, too. The more you practice listening, the faster the French you’ll be able to understand!
A classroom exercise dreaded by school children all over France, dictation is actually a very useful and strategic way in which to practice French writing. Resources that include the opportunity to listen to native audio files—then write and check your understanding—will enable you to get used to picking out individual words within a sentence. It’s also possibly the best way to get to grips with French spelling.
Listening and writing alone are not enough, however. If you really want to get exposure to the language, reading in French is a must. Keep in mind that reading articles or passages alongside audio is a great way to cover listening and reading at the same time!
The size of your vocabulary is one very significant part of what marks the difference between the various levels of French. Simply learning more words and expressions will give you the ability to express yourself more fluently and is essential to your progress. This means it’s important to consider how much a learning tool will enable you to build your vocabulary. Doing practical vocabulary exercises, such as those that involve strengthening synonym or adjective use, will definitely pay off down the line.
The Ultimate Intermediate French Study Pack: 9 Must-haves to Learn Mid-tier Français
Radio France Internationale
A news website, RFI is a treasure trove of learning tools and exercises as well as a really great learning option for intermediate learners. Filled with audio files, articles and more, the site is useful for gaining ground in listening and will likely introduce you to many new phrases and words.
Great for intermediate listening exercises
The listening exercises on the RFI website are incredibly comprehensive and follow many different topics, such as the lives of French students, the business world and the latest literary sensations. The exercises include enough complexity to meet an intermediate learner’s needs while being simple enough to encourage you to make it to the next lesson.
Downloadable audio files
Although the RFI tools are based on their website, there are many downloadable audio files that you can take with you wherever you go. The ability to play a particular file multiple times is great for improving your listening skills and taking audio on the go will ensure that you get your listening practice in, no matter where you are!
Access to French tests
The best way, as an intermediate learner, to really be sure of what you’ve learned is through regular testing. Luckily for you, the RFI site is full of questions, exercises and tests!
Daily audio news bulletins
Listening to native French broadcasts is a great exercise, but unless you’re used to very fast French, it can be demoralizing. Luckily, RFI has an entire section dedicated to slow and simple news broadcasts. So if you want to hear from the newsrooms of France, this is a great way to get some preliminary insight.
FluentU is a language learning platform that caters to the specific needs of every user, and an intermediate learner can easily benefit from taking advantage of the extensive video library dedicated to their level.
Real-world videos just for intermediates
As an intermediate learner, you’re undoubtedly ready to use your hard-won skills to explore the world of French culture. Unfortunately, a lot of the material intended for native speakers, from news articles to sitcoms to movies, is still a bit over your head. Problem solved! With FluentU, you can get immediate access to a wealth of French video content that’s intended for natives, but still perfect for you.
Interactive captions and multimedia flashcards
You can probably already imagine that having access to all these level-appropriate videos will do wonders for your listening comprehension, but what about reading? Great news: With FluentU’s interactive captions, you have the option of reading along with any video. This gives you the opportunity to check your understanding, and with new videos being added all the time, it also gives you an inexhaustible resource for dictation exercises and listening practice.
Captions are available in both French and English, and you can mouse over any French word to get an in-depth definition with additional examples. Each video also comes with quiz sections that enable you learn the vocabulary from the video in context, making it easy for you to progress quickly and retain what you’ve learned.
Keeps track of all the vocabulary you’ve learned
As we’ve already mentioned, continuing to build your vocabulary at the intermediate level is extremely important, and FluentU helps out by keeping track of all the words you’ve already learned, so you can focus on areas that need improvement. This means more efficient learning, a 100% personalized experience and less work for you!
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
“Collage: Révision de grammaire”
A good look into intermediate grammar is essential should you want to progress in French. Having access to a grammar textbook that you can use both for reference and practice is a really good idea. “Révision de grammaire” is a particularly clear and accessible example of this type of textbook, and makes a great companion to other learning platforms.
Intermediate grammar textbook
While “Révision de grammaire” is not the most thorough of grammar books out there, in its relative simplicity, it has some of the most easy-to-comprehend explanations. The level of grammar in the book is perfect for intermediate learners and will provide you with enough of a springboard to move on to the next level.
Clear explanations for each grammar point
“Révision de grammaire” is a well-structured book and includes clear explanations for each grammar point. It’s essential that intermediate level learners understand the ins and outs of grammar, and with “Révision de grammaire,” the rules are made comprehensible.
Of course, “Révision de grammaire” is not just a reference book. The grammar points are accompanied by a number of learning exercises, tailored around the intermediate learner’s needs. By enabling you to really put your knowledge into practice, the book ensures you’ll arrive at a great understanding of French grammar.
Bilingual vocabulary list
New grammar rules often mean access to new French vocabulary. For that reason, “Révision de grammaire” contains a list of new words in both French and English. It’s possible to use new vocabulary in many of the grammar exercises, which gives you a chance to put the language to use right away.
Sometimes, it’s useful to take time away from exercise books and learning routines and dip your toes into the world of French culture. The good news is there are lots of comprehensible, interesting French movies for intermediate learners out there.
“Séraphine” is a recent French movie that tells the story of real-life painter Séraphine de Senlis. It’s a really interesting insight into French culture.
Native French movie
Filmed with an entirely French cast, “Séraphine” is a great resource for getting familiar with spoken French and native speaking patterns.
Comprehensible French listening
The story of “Séraphine” is calm and quiet. Therefore, the dialogue in the film is very clear and easy to follow. While it still might take you a while to adjust to listening to the dialogue, as an intermediate learner, you may benefit from making limited and smart use of subtitles.
Insight into French culture
While set some years in the past, “Séraphine” portrays French culture from a particular time and is a wonderful way to get a glimpse into how language and culture has changed. Learning from behind a book can often drain the life from the French language and hearing it spoken by natives can help bring it back to life.
“Les Portes Tordues”
Utterly unique in its approach to the French language, “Les Portes Tordues” is a great book for intermediate learners who are looking for something a little different. Narrative-based but packed with all of the French learning essentials, it’s a great way to adjust to the intermediate level and to pick up some really useful learning points.
In order to give you the best possible foundation in intermediate French, “Les Portes Tordues” follows the structure of a storybook, presenting lessons through a narrative arc. Passages from the book are presented in both French and English. In each chapter, the book takes on a new grammar point, looks at unique vocabulary and increases in complexity.
Grammar review included
In “Les Portes Tordues,” you can find regular grammatical exercises and reviews. The reviews teach new vocabulary, verb conjugations and tense endings.
Audio exercises and extracts
“Les Portes Tordues” contains a large number of in-depth and accessible audio exercises. Presented alongside the French story, each file reads out an extract of the book, ideal for dictation and listening exercises!
“120 dictées de français”
Again, despite its bad reputation, dictation is an incredibly useful and comprehensive learning tool and particularly helpful if you’re trying to master tricky verb endings and French spellings. “120 dictées de français” is, unsurprisingly, an in-depth and language-packed arsenal of dictation exercises, aimed specifically at intermediate learners and above. If you’re looking for a surefire way to reach advanced French, “120 dictées” is the way to go!
Works on listening and writing skills
Dictation exercises work two parts of your French comprehension at once and are a great way to kill two birds with one stone. While it might sound easy, the reality of the exercise is a little more tricky. Multi-tasking in French is a really useful way to improve your level and rapidly increase your comprehension.
Different categories of exercises
Listening to the same type of lesson can be incredibly boring, especially when you’re doing it for days on end. “120 dictées” contains exercises in multiple topics, from current events to literature and interviews. Over time, you’ll learn many new things about French culture and become an expert!
Hours of lessons
The CD is packed with hours of lessons and is therefore a great learning tool for long-term use. You can access lessons by the hour, so keeping track of them is not a problem. Incorporating “120 dictées” into your study schedule is very easy, especially since you can take it with you on the go!
Two speeds of listening
Aimed at both intermediate and advanced learners, “120 dictées” contains two dictation speeds. While intermediate users may want to aim to complete exercises in the slower speed initially, over time, you’ll end up progressing to the next level and getting used to faster French.
Note: While this is one of the best dictation tools out there, the book can be a bit hard to come by. If you’re struggling to get your hands on a copy, there are many alternative options online. To Learn French is one brilliant free option that has tons of material for intermediate learners.
A monthly online publication geared towards learners, Think French is perfect for intermediates and is a great way to balance a number of different learning techniques. Covering different language and culture topics, the magazine also balances French comprehension with insight into the world of French natives!
Articles on French culture
Think French looks into issues from within French culture more than anything, so it’s a great way for you to find out what’s going on in France! Covering history, culture, politics, cuisine, interviews and reviews, this magazine is a great tool for anyone interested in French life and wanting to find out more.
Access to audio downloads
While the bulk of the articles are available directly on the Think French website, there’s also the option to download files for portable devices. It can be useful to listen to spoken articles a number of times to ensure complete comprehension. The audio files are a great resource for learning with the help of an informative native speaker.
Great for reading practice
In addition to its huge number of listening tools and files, Think French is also useful just for practicing French reading. Each article is accompanied by flashcards and grammar lessons, giving you the chance to greatly improve your reading comprehension and knowledge of the language.
“Intermediate French for Dummies”
Written by About.com’s Laura K. Lawless, “Intermediate French For Dummies” is a comprehensive and comprehensible language guide packed with everything you need to know about French at an intermediate level.
Intermediate grammar workbook
There’s no messing around in “Intermediate French For Dummies.” It’s a straightforward, in-depth look at intermediate grammar, practice included.
Covering all potential complications, grammar rules and verb endings, the book backs up each grammar point with an interactive example, enabling you to easily to put your comprehension into practice. Grammar isn’t all about learning stuff by heart and “Intermediate French For Dummies” takes that into account, letting you begin implementing new rules right away rather than just memorizing them.
Bilingual explanations and examples
“Intermediate French For Dummies” understands that although you might be on your way to fluency, you still might not be completely confident in French, and that’s okay! Each lesson and grammar point is accompanied with explanations in both French and English, enabling students to understand the finer language details completely.
To move towards fluency in French, it’s important that you start taking notice of current French idioms and language structures. While it’s essential to get down grammar rules, understanding current language usage is of equal importance.
Colloquial dictionary and thesaurus
“Street French” is packed with colloquial expressions and language, taken from natives themselves. Once you’ve mastered the rules of French, “Street French” serves as a great introduction to the way many natives actually speak.
Access to informal expressions
The language dictionary is filled with colloquial words and phrases, making it very easy to construct sentences and phrases in informal French. By taking an in-depth look at the world of real French, “Street French” enables you to get familiar with spoken French across the board.
1,000 familiar terms and words
Street French is really packed with learning material, so once you feel like you have a good foundation in “proper” French, there’s virtually no end to the amount of material you can pick up here. While the dictionary itself is a useful tool, make sure you understand when and where various types of language can be used; the French are sticklers for social niceties, so when in doubt, use formal French!
Navigating intermediate French can seem like a tricky thing.
By varying your learning methods and paying equal attention to all forms of French, however, it’s very possible to progress in almost no time at all.
Moving through intermediate French is definitely a challenge but, done right, can be incredibly rewarding and gratifying!
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