More and more people are valuing experiences over possessions and many people are eager for new and exciting encounters. And what better way to broaden your cultural and intellectual horizons than language learning.
French is particularly popular among passionate travellers and language learners - and for good reason!
- Out of the world's seven continents, French is spoken on five of them!
- French is the official language of 29 countries and 8 territories
- It is the lingua franca for international diplomatic relations
- It can be a gateway to the fascinating family of romance languages.
After Spanish, French holds the titles of the second-most taught language in schools.
But the benefits go beyond sitting your French exams for HSC or VCE - being bilingual opens up many doors and can enrich you for life.
So what are the benefits of communicating in a second language?
There are so many amazing advantages to being bilingual - these can range from a salary bump, flexing your brain and staving off dementia in old age.
So are you inspired to start your French adventures?
Let's get you set up with some of the best online tools for learning French.
The Best Websites To Help You Learn French Fast
A recent BBC article hypothesized that Gen Z - the generation born in 1996 or after - may become the most multilingual generation of all, thanks mostly to their hyper-connectedness.
Younger learners stay connected internationally within the realms of cyber-space through social media and chat apps
They have access to global information that language learners 100 years ago could only dream of. To learn a different class in the past, you would need to buy all your learning materials and physical, perhaps take part in a classroom experience, or even engage a private tutor...
In those days, it was usually only the upper classes who learnt French and knowing the language was a signifier that you belonged to high society. Only the very, very wealthy could afford to travel abroad or study in a French school or University.
Today, Superprof democratizes the experience of finding a tutor - there are over 3000 French tutors in our listings with very reasonable rates waiting for you to get in contact!
Today there is so much more opportunity for people from all walks of life to study French, go overseas, or even study at a French university.
Or, stay right at home and make the most of the best websites for learning French.
Alliance Francaise is an international non-profit that has a strong presence in Australia and promotes French culture and language-learning. Another great website is Bonjour de France, a French learning resource based in the UK.
The welcome page of Bonjour de France offers different resources to learners depending on their level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFRL).
The CEFRL outlines different degrees of language proficiency. A1 is for total beginners, whilst C2 indicates fluency approaching the level of a native speaker.
The Bonjour de France page invites you to declare your French level in order to provide you with tailored resources. So stop and ask yourself - are you a total beginner, or more in the intermediate range? Could you manage daily tasks like ordering food at a cafe or grocery shopping by yourself?
Once you know your level, you will be offered a succession of activities guiding you on a gentle learning curve towards French fluency.
There are general lessons in the centre of the page, and you can also find other lists addressing more specific aspects of learning a language, such as grammar, verb conjugation, vocabulary, or idiomatic expressions.
If your goal is to help your children learn French, you might want to take a look at Hello World, a site designed specifically with young students in mind.
Lessons come in fun, easy-to-digest portions. Your petit élève at home can complete worksheets, use the flashcard function, take structured lessons or enjoy French songs and games.
You'll find the traditional nursery song - Alouette - in the children's section of Hello World. Most Anglophones aren't aware that the lyrics describe the plucking of a lark!
Podcasts: An Online French Tutor In Your Pocket
Can learning only take place in a quiet learning environment, repeating after a teacher, seated in rows of desks?
This is how the Boomer generation may remember their school french classes, being called up to recite long passages in front of the class and repeating French grammar rules by rote.
This teaching style is still à la mode in certain parts of the world, but it isn't reflected in current trends in education.
Now there are teaching methods to suit a variety of learning styles, and standardised tests are being eschewed for individualized learning and evaluation.
If you're an adult learner, you're probably much too busy to devote hours every day to sitting still and learning a second language.
So what resources are available for the busy modern scholar of French?
Podcasts are perfect for fitting some French into your busy schedule. You can listen and learn new words on the train or tram, whilst stuck in traffic, waiting for an appointment, during your lunch break, or anytime you have a spare moment!
Or you might be passing the time with an educational app. According to a recent survey conducted by Apple, educational apps are the third most popular type of application, coming in after business and gaming application.
So where do you go to seek out the high-quality French learning podcasts?
For the beginner French learner, Podcast Français Facile could be particularly helpful.
Clicking on the tab marked debutant will reveal many bite-sized, downloadable lessons for absolute beginners. These start with the French alphabet, teach greetings and introductions and how to pose questions.
At every activity, you are offered a downloadable printout worksheet for note-taking or to keep and refer back to.
Or, if you've learnt French before, you can start at your CERFL level and go from there.
In France, the language proficiency ranking system is called DELF, but it aligns closely with the CERFL framework mentioned above.
On the targeted pages, you can find activities and worksheets addressing particular aspects of French grammar, such as the correct use of the prenominal form and the subjunctive mood.
A note of caution: all text is in French! If you are an absolute beginner, the language barrier may seem intimidating at first, but try to push through any discomfort, as online immersion will help turbo-boost your French.
Another great resource is FrenchPod101 which is a great compilation of different broadcasts grouped according to their corresponding CEFRL level.
You do need to register with the website, but after that, it's absolutely free!
Once you've selected the right starting level, you'll be met with a few topics geared towards your ability. These will gradually become more challenging as you progress and build on your existing French language skills.
Since no two people learn the same way, the website allows the learner lots of free movement between the topics. You choose your own path to progress!
For example, you might want to start with Lesson 1, then follow all the lessons through in order until the study unit is complete. Or you can direct the site to show you random podcasts all within your intermediate level.
Spaced repetition: a learning technique involving an increase in intervals between the processes of learning and reviewing new vocabulary.
Spaced repetition is a cornerstone of the Pimsleur language learning method and philosophy, among many others.
It also features throughout the French video lessons in FrenchPod101, alongside many other tools for building vocabulary.
Additionally, you are equipped with a digital phrasebook where you can record any notes, words and phrases you're picking up on your way to perfecting your French.
One of the best features of the site is its active community forum. In the forums, you can discuss difficult grammar points such as irregular verbs and gendered pronouns with a host of online study buddies.
FrenchPod101 can even help you learn while you're on the go, with apps for your tablet or mobile.
Apps to Learn French Online via your Smartphone or Tablet
There is a huge number of language learning websites out there, as well as plenty of apps for on-the-go learning. Some are free, and others require a purchase or subscription
Some of the paid services will offer a free taster. This might take the form of a free trial for a limited time only, or a limited version of the lessons, with meatier content available to unlock if you subscribe.
So, in the world of French learning apps, do you really get what you pay for?
Can you only get an engaging, fun and good-quality learning experience by handing over your hard-earned cash?
After thorough research into the online resources available on the net....we think not!
So, presented here in no particular order, are a few of our favourite free resources.
Note: Each of these is adapted for iPhone or iPad, and many are available on Android as well.
So, what are the best apps for learning French?
The coolest feature on this app is its object recognition function. You can take a picture of anything you like, and the software will process it and identify what it's called in French, then attach the name as a subtitle.
Don't forget to save the picture to refer back to - you can even build up a photographic French dictionary of everyday objects you encounter.
So what else do you get from downloading Memrise?
You'll need to create an account to get started. Setup is free, as are many of the learning features.
Next, check out the topics posted. The top of the page has a series of numbered lessons; these range from greetings and introductions to French slang words and idioms.
About a third of the way down, you'll find topics like French vocabulary for high-school students. For absolute beginners, you may like to start with the 100 Most Spoken French Words.
Which learning path you follow is ultimately up to you - skim difference topics and explore what suits your learning style the best. And the best bit? It all fits into your pocket or backpack to take with you on the go!
Directing your own learning like this keep French fresh and engaging. Your brain learns best when it's having fun, so follow whichever path intrigues and delights you.
Mindsnacks is another site that puts the 'fun' in fundamentals.
This app presents French learning materials in a creative, intuitive way, offering games, quizzes and crystal-clear audio resources.
Whether it's learning new phrases, perfecting your spelling, or building your vocabulary, Mindsnacks does it all, all whilst keeping you on your toes and bringing a smile to your face!
For the gamers out there; Mindsnacks may seem familiar. It uses a game format that requires you to successfully complete a quest to unlock the next level. This will be familiar and enjoyable to the gamers out there, but the downside is that it limits you in how much you can customize your gaming experience.
Spaced repetition has so many benefits to language learning, but it isn't featured so strongly here. For example, if you're feeling unsure about aspects of a previous lesson, you won't be able to review it as part of your lesson challenges at higher levels.
Did you want to learn more about iPad/iPhone apps for learning French?
The Best Online Translation Tools
Even the most advanced language learners have moments where a word or translation escapes them!
If this happens to you, rest assured it's no reflection on your language abilities. You'll find yourself struggling to find the right word very frequently at the beginning of your language learning journey, especially if you're not immersed in the language and culture.
Instead of turning to your flashcards, vocabulary lists or textbooks, you can now simply input the word you're searching for into an online translator.
In forehead-smacking moments when you just can't find the le mot juste, online translators are your best friends!
Be careful when choosing when online translator to use. You may end up smacking your forehead anyway if you're attempting to translate via Babylon or Google Translate.
These general online translators come in handy for unofficial translations you need doing quickly, but they might let you down if you're looking for something more complex or official.
Let's demonstrate with a simple phrase used by thousands of Anglophone tourists from Marseille to Paris to Lille: Can you speak English?
Both Babylon and Google give us a more formal version: pouvez-vous. Bing keeps it informal with parles-tu.
So which one to use? Well, it depends on the context, and these online translators don't provide any. In this way, these discrepancies can lead the French beginner astray.
The English language has lots of words with double meanings, but we only have one pronoun - to speak to either one person or a group.
English makes no distinction between informal and formal "you".
Another feature of French that can confuse beginners making use of these online translation tools are the accents.
If you're translating from French to English using an online translator and you are miss any of the accents, you may end up with a very different meaning to the word you were looking for!
These simple translators are particularly inept when it comes to French because there are many French words that have essentially the same spelling, but with differently placed accents. One example might be du – the masculine singular of some, and dû, which is the past tense of the verb "should". The latter can mean anything from "owing to" to "had to".
Don't let shoddy translations confuse and confound you! Stay engaged by seeking our high-quality, clear information and instruction.
But don't be disheartened - there are so many great online translators out there - if you know where to look! We don't have space to list them all here, but you can check out our blog post dedicated to the subject here.
A good quality dictionary is a language learner's best friend.
We particularly like the Reverso French English dictionary - it translates day-to-day language, as well as specific French idioms and business phrases.
We love that it will propose antonyms, synonyms, and sample sentences that use the word you're investigating in its correct context. It will, of course, let you know if a word is feminine or masculine, and in certain cases, it will guide you with adjective and verb agreement.
Linguee.fr is another great online word reference that does all of the above and more. Check out both and see which one you like.
What if you need to translate whole documents? You'll need a very powerful translator - perhaps a human rather than an online tool.
Lucky you can have both with WorldLingo's free document and website translation.
Simply upload your document to their site via the link provided, input your target language (French, right?) and you can receive your translated results back within a day.
The free document translation service through Worldlingo is capped at fewer than 500 words. For a professional translation off official documents, or for longer text, you'll need to pay.
So what if you need official documents translated quickly, and you want to ensure your privacy is protected?
Lucky Day Translations is here to help - securing any sensitive information in the documents you wish to translate, be they medical charts, legal documents, or a property title.
Day Translations takes a fee, as it's a real human being translating the documents for you. However, it is fast - once you've submitted your translation job, you'll be provided with a quote in under 10 minutes.
WorldLingo has offices all over the world, and you can submit your papers via fax or courier, or via their secure website.
Maybe it would just be better to find a French teacher to learn online...
Find A Teacher Online For Beginners French Lessons
Sometimes our busy schedules may prevent us from enrolling in traditional French courses.
However, there are still so many opportunities to fit in French learning around your spare time!
There are so many great online language learning programmes out there. The trick is to find a French course in Melbourne or Sydney that suits both your learning style and lifestyle.
This is a popular language-learning program that allows to you try with no upfront commitments or obligations. You can test out their free trial before subscribing.
So what's included in a Rocket French subscription?
- Lessons in French culture and language
- ready-made flashcards
- Spaced repetition tools
- A mobile app to take on the go
- Progress tracking features
- Access to forums where you can get in touch with French teachers and students
This programme is great for casual and serious learners of French. It asks you to invest only a few minutes a day to slowly build your French knowledge and stay engaged.
The subscription price is a little steeper than some of the other programmes we've mentioned, but if this tool suits your learning style it will be well worth the investment!
Learning French online will enrich your education by helping you access the most up-to-date materials and digital tools and join a community of like-minded language learners from all over the globe.
There is certainly nothing wrong with older-generation CD learning programmes, but keep in mind that these give a fairly isolated learning experience, with no way to check your progress with personalised feedback.
If a classroom environment is inaccessible, or simply isn't for you, a suitable online programme can give you a similar experience, with so much more flexibility in terms of time investment and topics covered.
So what are you waiting for? Check out our online french courses and start learning French online today!