What is the best free site for learning french for a complete novice!

Point taken, well said. Different strokes for different folks :-)

In addition to being a chartered accountant, I am also TEFL qualified and taught English in Barcelona for a year as a career break. However I agree that "one size does not fit all," the advantage of PIMSLEUR is a) no books and b) your accent will be perfect.

Your voice. Your choice :-)

There are no free resources - you still have to pay for broadband, and speaking with a friend costs in terms of transport and the coffees you consume :-)

I don't agree Kwashie that you have to pay to get a good resource. I paid out for several online and book/video courses and they never helped me a great deal.

I found finding a French friend who speaks a little English and meeting up for an exchange with a dictionary and a notepad was one of the best tools. And using the many free online courses.

There are a couple of You Tube items on PIMSLEUR which aren't particularly complimentary to it but different methods suit different people.

Yes, agree that the BBC does a very good series of lessons. I would also highly recommend the late Michel Thomas - you may be able to buy his CDs second-hand from eBay. My husband was convinced he couldn't learn a second language - but after Disk 1 of Michel Thomas, it completely changed his attitude. He's worked his way through both the initial 8-CD course and the Advanced and it has really helped his confidence. He's at the point now when watching French TV (with the sous-titres) that he can spot the difference between what was just said and what appeared in the sub-titles.

Do get to know your French neighbours and join in some activities such as petanque/boules. And the best of luck!

Nicely said, Peter. I second that!

I am always pleasantly amazed at the wealth of knowledge this group has and is so willing to share.
This really does make for a great community, much appreciated.
Thank you all for such constant and good advise.
Best Rgards

I presume by asking about the best site, you are looking for a free resource. This may be false economy. The best method of learning french (or any other language) is the PIMSLEUR method - you may find one or two practice CDs on the web, but really you need to buy it, or borrow it from a library.

John, they used to do free lessons when you registered as a business. That has stopped now but you can still get them free if you are registered as unemployed.

GRETA does courses. In the Creuse you have to pay for them but in the Indre it is possible to get them free if they are short on numbers for French/English. So it might be worth contacting your local GRETA. From September here they are doing one week of internet based learning and the following week at GRETA.

Found that some "teachers" are not very good, so don't sign up for a long course and then find they are useless.

As Andrew and many others say, radio, TV and as much as possible listening to French whether it be in cafes or wherever.

Yes I agree Sheila. We use some of the exercises at our French/English conversation groups to help us out. Grammar on both sides is not brilliant but it is pretty good.

Whenever I have had to learn a new language I have bought the simple BBC cassette (showing my age probably podcasts now?) with all the useful phrases on it and played it over and over again, including while dropping off to sleep. Then when I am able to repeat everything and have an idea of how the language sounds, I moved onto proper lessons.

I can't see that anyone has mentioned two websites run by the French. Radio Francaise Internationale (RFI) and TV5 Monde offer some great ways to learn french at all sorts of levels. Just Google and go! Wish you luck.

There was an advert sometime back on other expat groups about 200hrs of free French lessons all indications point to the local Tech Colleges but drawn a blank after that no one knows anything about it

I can only add to the people who have recommended the About site. It has several languages you c an learn for free, french being one.

There are tests for each level of ability and you can sign up for the free ndewsletter, which will keep your nose to the grindstone!

I have used 'learn french by podcast' and still use it as it takes you to intermediate level as well, you have to pay for the pdf files but I have never bothered with them. They do teach you how to speak which is the most difficult thing for me.

register through itunes and they will download onto your computer and then onto an ipod if you want to.

I go with Andrew, buy a book, get the basics then start talking to people, find some one french who has a bit of English and talk franglais!

Good luck!


You can try the site "francaisefacile". It covers levels from beginner to advanced. It is not extremely well organized, but you can find your way. Begin with debutante, and langues etrangers. There are of course many sites which give explanations in english, which I use also to further understand the grammaire, but this one has good explanations, exercises, dialogues and oral recordings. It is the site recommended by the french schools that teach french as a second language. Good luck, and welcome to France.

Hi Rebekah!
I would like to echo David's comments about http://french.about.com - you get a regular email with just enough information to for my ancient brain to deal with - even if I rarely remember it.

You could look also at busuu.com - free for the basic service and great for beginners.

Once you have enough confidence, have a look at www.mylanguageexchange.com/ - this is a site which allows you make contact with others who want to learn *your* language and in return they teach you *theirs*! I love this site and have made a couple of good "penfriends".

Good luck!

PS http://www.formez-vous.com/en/ is also worth a look - it is much more "serious" than the others and requires a certain amount of dedication (which is why I have never progressed with it) - but if you are disciplined enough to set aside half-an-hour a day and are able to concentrate, this looks really good

About.com > Language > French

It's a great reference site and has a cool verb conjugator.

1 Like

Try Bite sized languages they are free, send you a phrase a day at the level you want and pick out specific words or verbs. You can also log onto their site and play a tetras game with words in french and english.

Try www.bonjour.com

and the BBC language site - both free

Best of all - go to the local pub and chat/listen to chat + join something French , every village has social gatherings, and associations for boules, cards (belotte ?) , bingo (quine) , walks ( randonné) etc

Check out the posters on the windows of local patisseries, tourist office, mairie etc for activities and go

Finally make friends with your french neighbours and before long they'll be helping you enormously to learn the language

I found it somewhat unusual that this site, located in the US, should be so good. But it is. :-)

Tex and Tammy

It teaches French using the story of two armadillos, Tex and Tammy, and for me the lessons were useful because they used good examples and a lot of humour in the teaching. It's well worth exploring, and has lots of good reference material (with crazy examples) on many aspects of grammar.