Best way to learn French

What is the best way (method) to learn French?

I am not in France at the moment and I am looking at the options. Just wanted to get the popular opinion:

  • Books
  • On-line courses ( like Rosetta Stone )
  • Instructor lead courses ( in the local FE college )

Any comments gratefully received.

It’s something I struggle with

What’s your current level? is a free online course, which may be a good starting point. The Michel Thomas CDs were initially a good help to me.


We are in the same boat, complete on our purchase mid August and trying to learn french so we can at least have a go.
We’re using duolingo and it seems pretty good so far, teaching the sort of things that will come up. It repetitive which is hugely helpful and builds on what you have already learned.

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I have looked at Rosetta Stone which is £10 a month. Its quite slick and records your voice too. Don’t know how successful it is

I actually have pretty good vocab. However the missus is fluent and “steps” in when I start to turn green and tongue-tied.

Actually I struggle with the “decode” part. Its a rate of speed problem. I catch words I know, and look at the context and can usually figure what is being said.

,but its not the same

Sounds like you’re about the same level as me.

Duolingo is OK but I thought the choice of phrase and vocab sometimes very odd.
For bulk vocabulary learning memrise is good.
For grammar Kwiziq is excellent.
Loads of stuff on the net - eg Géraldine Lepère’s Comme une Française is very good for “real French” tips, she has loads of free stuff but you can also pay for a more structured course I think.
YouTube is good for just finding videos in French to listen to, occasionally the closed captions are even useful :slight_smile:


I’ll give Duolingo a go…

Its the verbs and the “linking” words I never remember.

" is , has, if, when, and" etc

time conjugate those verbs I think

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Oh yes, while I think of it - Wordreference is my go-to English-French dictionary.

I subscribe to babbel and have found it very user friendly.

There’s no miracle solution, try as many sources as possible. Get along to your local evening classes before coming to France too. They’re a great help and will give you the motivation to work between classes using other sources. On a more general note, it’ll depend on what type of learner you are too; visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

Courage ! :wink:

I am a software developer, and I learn new software languages all the time. But computer languages are not spoken. I think I learn best from Books and intensive bombardment and deconstruction of sentences.

So this is quite an undertaking for me.

Also, to be fair (speaking as an ex software developer) computer languages are more dialects than truly different languages.

True, the concepts are the same just different execution.

But they same could be said for French

“my name is Darren”

“je m’appelle Darren”

“mi nombre es Darren”

This follows the same basic structure. (Clearly this is a over simplified example using google translate)

The best way, IMO, is to speak to actual people


I agree with you Mark. Conversation classes might be a good place to start if someone is not yet in France. Once in France then trying to speak with the locals is best the way to learn.

I have got on very well with Learn French with Paul Noble which is on Audible - you can get a free months trial to give it a go.

It seems to focus on successfully chatting in French.

(this course seems to be able to take a relatively small amount of vocab and successfully turn it in to proper sentences)

Listen to france inter, read a good paper, talk to people, work through duolingo and audiolingua, read a dictionary.

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Some good tips here. We have been to a french language class but now do our daily duolingo, plus a bit of ready french newspapers.
Will subject our french neighbors with ‘school french’ until they stop answering in English.


I use frantastique, as it appeals to me more than other online courses because of the story lines, and you get snippets of french culture along with it (music, film etc). Duolingo’s beeps irritated me in the end and I had outgrown it anyway. The fact that I have to pay for frantastique makes me do it every day!

If you want to do a free trial please use this link, as if you then go on to sign up I get a free month!

I did also do a formal french qualification, the DELF, just because I’m geared to formal education. And it was useful, but not as useful as talking to people!