Learning French is more than just learning about the particularities of French grammar and studying your verb tables. You need to be able to apply what you have learned in order to speak French like a native. To become fluent, doing exercises will help consolidate what you know and make it easier to use it in your French courses.
Are you the sort who likes to sit with a notebook and write things down? Do you learn better with a pen in your hand? Here are some books to help you to learn French.
A lot of grammar textbooks have a few basic exercises to help you remember the grammar rules. Here are a few with a greater emphasis on testing your knowledge:
If you are an advanced French student and are willing to brave grammar exercises in French, try to find the BLED . You can get a general BLED or a version adapted for various school grades. It has short explanations on very specific grammar points and a lot of exercises to make sure you understand.
Want to brush up on “avoir” and “être”, your verbs in -er and -ir and how to conjugate “aperçervoir”?
“French Verb Drills” by R. de Roussy de Sales tells you all about regular and irregular verbs, with exercises to perfect your French verb conjugation.
Want to practice your French words? Here are some good ways to learn new words and improve your French conversation.
“French Vocabulary Drills” by David Stillman and Ronnie Gordon has more than 25,000 words grouped into subjects, with five to seven exercises for each subject. And, perhaps more importantly, “French Gender Drills” by Frédéric Bibard will help you remember which of those words are masculine and which are feminine!
Themed French vocabulary lessons and conversation exercises can help you out in everyday situations like ordering at a café. Photo on VisualHunt
And don’t forget your flash cards. Flash Sticks has an interesting concept with pre-printed sticky notes you can put up all over your house, so you can practise your French vocabulary while cooking, cleaning up the living room or while doing the laundry!
You can also use French dictionaries and vocabulary lists to make your own flash cards. Take small index cards (A5 or A6) and write the English word on one side and the French translation on the other. Don’t forget to write the article with the word so you will learn its French noun gender!
Book-reading and written exercises are not for you? You prefer to learn French online? Here are some websites with quizzes and exercises to help you speak French:
Learn French adverbs with grammar exercises. Photo credit: dkuropatwa on Visual Hunt
Done them all? Le Point du Fle has links to French online exercises all over the Internet, organised by subject.
To improve your spelling and listening comprehension, try doing a dictée – basically, you listen to your teacher reading a text and write down what you hear as best you can. This also improves your grammar as you have to think of things like making sure your adjectives agree and whether you spelled your verb forms correctly.
There are online dictation websites that provide audio files and a transcript so you can correct yourself. One of these is on Lawless French and at French Circles.
Learn new words in context with exercises such as dictations and text comprehension. Photo on Visualhunt
Of the multitude of language apps out there, here are a few that stand out with their teaching method:
The best way to learn a language is by immersion. That way, you are sure to learn the French actually used by real people, get up-to-date on current slang, improve your listening comprehension by being confronted with words that are not on a vocabulary list, and become acquainted with French culture.
The best way to learn spoken French is to watch French films and series in the original language. If you are just starting to learn your second language, you might want to watch films you already know, so you don’t need to follow the plot but can concentrate on hearing French pronunciation from native speakers. But where to find them?
See if your DVDs or Blue-Rays (if you still have any!) have a French language option, or search for French productions on Netflix or other streaming companies. Netflix and Amazon both not only have a selection of foreign films, but also produce their own series together with French productions firms (I can highly recommend Lazy Company).
You can also look at the online libraries of various French TV stations, such as Canal +. Some of them will have the latest episode of some of their series available; or at least you can watch and read the news.
Watch films in French to improve your understanding and vocabulary. Photo credit: tom.arthur on Visualhunt
If watching films and series can help improve your conversational French and idiom, the news with greatly expand your vocabulary.
Again, French TV stations will often post all or part of their news segments online. If you prefer print, turn to the online versions of newspapers such as Le Monde or Le Figaro for free French news. The BBC French language-learning site has a list of French TV and radio for you.
Is this still all too much for you? Are you looking for easy French texts to learn your new language and complement your French lessons? Why not try out children’s books?
For absolute beginners, picture books with simple, short sentences are best. For more advanced readers, there are those perennial favourites, “Le petit Prince” by Antoine de St.-Éxupéry, or “Le petit Nicholas” by Jean-Jacques Sempé, illustrated by René Goscinny, of Astérix fame.