Get Total French Immersion at Home with These 10 Great Resources
These days, we’re overwhelmed with information.
Search for something on Google and your screen is flooded with possible options.
When you’re looking for resources and advice for total French immersion, the situation’s no different.
From websites and apps to books and videos, the amount of available resources we have to learn another language is staggering.
So where do you begin?
This list of valuable resources is designed to save you some time and energy. Plus, you’ll avoid information overload. We’ve distilled everything out there down to the very best resources for true immersion in the French language.
Before you dive in, there are a few basic things you should set up for yourself at home to make the transition to immersion a smooth one.
How to Smoothly Transition to Total French Immersion
Set your phone language to French.
This is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you see—and are forced to read—French every day. It might be a challenge at first to readjust to all your apps and settings in a different language, but you’ll improve your comprehension quickly by casually reading in French on a regular basis.
Soon you’ll be directing people towards the “général” rather than the “settings,”and “faire glisser pour déverrouiller” will obviously mean “slide to unlock” without you even thinking about it. It’s a great first step to learning terms in French without immediately translating them to English.
Make shopping lists in French.
Need to work your vocabulary a bit? Before you head out to go shopping, make your list of needed items in French.
If you’re afraid you’ll forget what something means, write the English version next to it or look it up on WordReference as you shop. You’ll learn new everyday vocabulary and get some chores done at the same time.
Label items around the house.
Just like setting your phone in French forces you to associate actions and apps with French phrases and names, labeling items around the house will train your brain to associate things with their French names. This can be as easy as getting yourself a French Vocabulary Stickers set, which includes colorful, durable labels for items around your home and office, and using it to deck out your surroundings in French!
The 10 Best Resources for a Smooth Transition to Total French Immersion
France Inter is a major national radio station that is part of Radio France. It offers a range of programs, from news and entertainment to spoken word and comedy. In between, it offers music programs of all kinds, introducing listeners to new kinds of music from all over the world, including hits from the best and brightest French artists. All of its shows can be replayed either directly from the website or in podcast form.
Le masque et la plume, hosted by Jérôme Garcin, is one that I listen to almost daily. As a lover of books and films, this podcast is perfect for me. A group of critics dissect the newest releases in film, literature and TV and decide which ones are worth checking out.
Les grandes voix de la musique traditionnelle is a great music podcast that introduces listeners to traditional music while modern musicians lead the exploration. It’s a wonderful way to see how modern musicians have been inspired by musicians of the past and you’ll learn something about the evolution of music.
If you’re a fan of French cuisine, Le Grand Miam will be a weekly treat, providing new recipes every day in addition to highlighting food events across France. If you’re looking to practice your French, test your knowledge of food vocabulary and cook a French treat every day, you should certainly subscribe to this podcast.
These three very different podcasts are only a small taste of what France Inter has to offer. Exploring the website and filtering by subject will lead you to whatever kind of podcast you’d like to hear!
Watching videos on your own is great practice for learning French, but FluentU is the best way to learn French.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
You’ll get to watch authentic French content and absorb it all casually, passively and you’ll also have the opportunity to learn actively. FluentU’s learn mode gets you seriously engaged with the French language by providing you with personalized tasks, multimedia flashcards and running vocabulary lists, among other things.
At any rate, the interactive French and English subtitles (which can be toggled on and off at all), will provide you with plenty of learning benefits on their own.
It’s easy and free to sign up, and it makes French immersion easy with an interactive online platform filled with interesting, relatable videos. If you prefer learning with apps, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store today!
Project Gutenberg is one of the best resources for free French e-books. It houses out-of-copyright classics, meaning you can search for your favorite poet or novelist from the 19th century and download their works to your e-reader or computer.
You can find works by Gustave Flaubert, like his most famous novel “Madame Bovary,” or download Charles Baudelaire’s only published volume of poetry, “Les Fleurs du Mal.” The site has both the French and English versions, giving you the option to download both and compare if needed or desired.
Not sure where to start? The site has a great catalog that links to all the book categories in French.
Not all French books are free, but there’s a place where they’re all accessible. For Kindle and other e-book readers, you can find new and recommended French books on Amazon.fr. If you prefer to have the hard copy, you can order French books for yourself here, too.
And, of course, Amazon contains more than just books—it’s a great resource where you can order films in French, board games and various other forms of entertainment that can aid in your immersion.
One of the greatest perks of French blogs is that they give a clearer picture of how the French live their everyday lives. The variety is endless and, if you commit to sticking with your favorite blogs, you’ll find yourself constantly learning new vocabulary and slang that you may not have otherwise learned. This is stuff you probably won’t pick up by just reading textbooks or the newspaper.
One of my favorite French fashion blogs is Le Petit Monde de Julie, which features a French fashionista, her favorite new looks for each season and a snapshot of her daily routine. Fashion bloggers always share a piece of their lives beyond just fashion advice, which makes the posts more interesting to read (and more relatable).
Just as cooking podcasts can introduce you to new recipes, cooking blogs like B comme Bon (which boasts that they “improve the ordinary”) make for easy, interesting reads—and they test your knowledge of French cuisine (and improve it).
B comme Bon is especially interesting because the recipes are very French and very simple to make. For someone who’s often busy, it’s one of the best blogs out there for time-efficient French immersion.
Almost everybody recommends participating in a language exchange, but where do you begin?
Luckily, many people want to make it easy to find the opportunity to speak a new language, so the options are plentiful in any city.
One great place to start is Meetup, which hosts many different kinds of groups and can be filtered by city. In one city, there may be many kinds of French language groups. If you’re in a large city, you can even filter by borough or neighborhood so you can stay closer to home.
Another great website to find language exchange groups is Couchsurfing. The site is used to host travelers in the homes of locals, but almost every city hosts general weekly meetups in addition to things like language exchange and themed group meetups. In Amsterdam, I participated in a Couchsurfing-hosted weekly event where native speakers were teaching English, Spanish, Dutch and German at various levels. You’ll inevitably meet new people, too!
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Local colleges often have language exchange or allow advertisements posted on community boards. Also consider attending French cultural nights at a museum, movie theater or bookstore, where Francophiles can be found and you’ll have the opportunity to mingle and bond over the event. Also research local, independent language studios, where you can sign up for individual French classes. A lot of times, these kinds of studios host free language exchange evenings for the general public.
AlloCine, Netflix & YouTube
Ready for the movies but don’t know where to start? AlloCine will introduce you to the newest and best French cinema. It’s the French version of IMDB, so you’ll find movie trailers, synopsis, actor and director profiles, and ratings on recent and older French movies.
Once you’ve found something you want to watch, head over to Netflix and YouTube to watch it. Not all films are on these sites, but you can often find classics on YouTube and popular French films on Netflix. This article will give you a jumpstart on some great films that are currently on Netflix.
Searching for a great new French TV show? Like AlloCine, Canal+ is a great place to discover new shows, watch recent clips from other shows and keep up with the latest French news. You can even watch TV live for the shows they make available on the website.
For those who are looking for a great, comprehensive database for French TV, Canal+ is your website.
Social Media Outlets
Following French writers, media outlets and celebrities on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is one of my favorite ways to read French every day.
Comedians like Gad Elmaleh (Twitter and Instagram: @) and Florence Foresti (Twitter: @ , Instagram: @madameforesti) always provide a humorous feed of one-liners and links that will not only work your casual French but will make you laugh, too.
Accounts run by Le Figaro (Twitter: @le_figaro) and Le Monde (Twitter: @lemondefr) are great resources for news and current events.
YouTube stars Norman Thavaud (Twitter: @, Instagram: @normanthauvaud) and Cyprien (Twitter: @ ) provide a stream of relevant, everyday quips and updates that accompany their very popular YouTube channels.
Want to find even more accounts that can fill your feed? Start by checking out similar accounts and follow the feeds that interest you most. Almost every person in the public eye has a social media account, and the more people you follow, the more people you’ll discover!
Popular French News Sites
Are you in the habit of checking the news every day? Do it in French instead of English! Sites like Le Monde, Le Figaro and BuzzFeed France report on worldwide news, meaning you can see what’s happening in your own country, but in French (while also seeing what’s going on in France!). Most of these sites have the option to get updates sent to your email, meaning you won’t even have to go to the website to get news updates in French.
As you can see, resources for keeping French part of your daily routine are endless.
From news sites to social media to videos, it’s easy to create a culture of immersion in your home—even when you’re not in France. Happy learning!