I remember the first time I told myself “I think I want to learn French”. It was almost 7 years ago. I didn’t know I was going to be using it 6 years after. But I do wish I should’ve heeded that call so things will be easier now. Fast forward to today and I’m formally learning French in a language school. There is an advantage in doing so, but a lot of people learn by themselves with the right resources and a considerable amount of self
scolding motivation. Here is a list of resources which helped me start beginner French on my own:
The strategy of learning pronunciation first was actually a good one. I watched Gabriel Wyner’s pronunciation videos to train myself in those difficult french sounds (especially the dreaded R). I would also recommend to do this first before starting with learning grammar or verbs in any of the resources below.
I think everyone who wanted to learn a language for free have used Duolingo. The quiz-type method helps retain things in your brain, insisting you get the damn thing right even if it takes you 3 times to get the correct answer. I commend Duo’s persistence and patience for this which might run low in human instructors. It is good for building vocabulary with photos and the various stages are categorised so there seems to be a clear path you’re taking which might not be as clear as your pronunciation at this point. The bars which dwindle over time is a good motivator to revisit the quiz for those who want to master each topic or mainly just because they have a bit of OCD and don’t like to see an incomplete bar. Although my favorite are the bots which you can converse with, feel free to try and provide an unexpected response and annoy them from time to time. It’s funny. I’ve read that people seem to have an A2 level after completing the entire tree. I’ve so far only had 34% fluency according to the app, which means I’m only 34% motivated.
I realised that the iPhone app doesn’t have enough explanation for grammar structure, it just makes you plunge in the
water quiz and hope you learn how to swim understand from fear of drowning by either making a mistake, researching or actually making use of what little tip they have. But using the desktop version provides way more explanation and examples.
If you don’t have the time to read, take a quiz or you simply are too lazy, then listening to this free podcast is perfect for you regardless if you take coffee breaks or not. You will be taught by Mark and joined by Anna, who will learn french with you so it will feel like you’re in a classroom together, complete with some mistakes by Anna and corrections by Mark. I was very satisfied with the free version that I decided to buy all 4 seasons during their last sale and I made it until Season 3 (that’s more than the 34% of my Duolingo level yay!). I can definitely say that the money used in purchasing the members’ version is worth more than the beginner’s french class I signed up for one time in Gibraltar which I eventually stopped attending because it was beginning to be a waste of time.
The paid version comes with:
-The main audio lesson
-The language study audio lesson in order to study the text in more depth, with a full analysis explaining all aspects of the grammar and vocabulary used.
-The lesson notes which is the transcription for the audio lessons. If I need to revisit an episode I just read the lesson notes. This way you can see how the words are spelt. As you might already be aware, the pronunciation vs the spelling in French is like contemporary art, notoriously difficult to comprehend.
-An EPUB version which includes both the text and the audio clips for the lesson and can be used on a variety of mobile devices and compatible ereaders including iBooks on iOS.
There are 4 seasons which they say focused on the B2/C1 level in the in the European Framework of Reference so paying for the members’ version is way cheaper than enrolling in a school if that isn’t your thing or you simply don’t have the time (or patience) to sit in a class (they announced a Season 5 is underway last 2016 November although they haven’t seem to have released it yet). I cannot stress enough how this helped me, so there you go.
When I had to catch up on A level grammar in just a span of three weeks, I binge-watched Vincent’s (native French) YouTube videos which are concise and clear, perfect for a revision. He speaks slowly though so I thank YouTube for the speed function (I’m impatient like that).
Available with an online version, this dictionary is very comprehensive. The translations are concise and categorised according to the different nuances of the word. You can listen to the pronunciation (both the french and the english) and set the speed according to your liking. My favourite is the conjugation feature. It also has the usual list of useful french phrases and a quiz feature. If you are connected online, you can further your search (on top of the translation) since it will lead you to wikipedia or wordreference.com.
Equipped with a lot of self motivation and the ability to kick yourself from behind when you’re procrastinating, you can save a considerable amount of money and get to a decent level of French with the right resources. Alors, bon courage!.