There are so many fantastic resources available to the modern language learner, ranging from French for beginners to advanced resources to polish your grasp of a foreign language.
Only a few short years ago, your options were somewhat limited to traditional classroom settings or total immersion programs in the country of the language they study.
Now, we can enrich our language learning with web-based tools!
French learners of previous generations didn't have the opportunity to learn French online and while they may have been able to seek out the occasional French broadcast, there was nothing like the convenience of a podcast!
In comparison, we can take out our smartphones or open up our laptops and find French podcasts on all manner of subjects in just a few taps or clicks. We can choose podcasts that follow language courses or reach for leisure topics that make for pleasurable listening.
But now we're a little too spoilt for choice - there are so many French podcasts out there, how do we pick something high-quality that meets our learning needs?
To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, here are our 10 favourite French-speaking podcasts of all time - categorised into suitability for beginner, intermediate or advanced French learners. Whatever your level, check out these podcasts to enrich your French lessons.
Read up on how to find your ideal online French teacher.
Learning French via Podcasts
French is a major international language, so you're in luck - there are plenty of resources out there for learning French! Especially in comparison with some of the other languages, there is a wealth of French learning materials out there.
So how can you choose between them? The key to enriching your learning through podcasts is choosing one that will suit your individual learning style.
Innovative Languages, who make FrenchPod101, publish language podcasts in Italian, Spanish, Chinese... in fact, they have "pods" across 34 different languages!
Each language has it's own podcast, indicated by the language name with the suffix "Pod101".
Podcasts were developed for Apple devices, in particular the iPod!
Now they are available on pretty much any device you own - your iPhone, iPad, Android, tablet, or they can be accessed on your laptop via a web address.
So what are you waiting for? Go download a few episodes of FrenchPod101, and listen at your leisure.
You will need to create a free account, and when you sign up you'll be asked to indicate your current French level. This could be anywhere from total beginner to nearly fluent.
From your chosen starting point, FrenchPod101 offers a variety of learning paths, divided up by topic.
For example, if you choose Mastering Level One French, and start at the first lesson in this module, you can do all the lessons in this module in sequence until it's finished.
However, progressing in a linear fashion is optional. You can also skim the modules and skip back and forth until you've found a lesson that interests you and suits your level, and begin from that point.
Bonus: all the content on FrenchPod101 can be downloaded. This means you can store the video resources, audio lessons and lesson notes on your device.
FrencPod101 is considerate of the offline leaner: there are lesson notes accompanying every module that you're welcome to keep for future reference.
News In Slow
News In Slow is a news and current affairs podcast that comes out. Each episode deals with a current event.
The pages are thoughtfully organised and give links to all the features on offer. You can take advantage of the grammar overview, or a list of expressions that came up in the podcast that week.
You can even download flashcards directly from their site!
Select your level from the top of the page, and listen to news adapted to your level of understanding.
This podcast works well for both beginners and intermediate learners, as even beginners will be able to pick up what's going on from the context of the current events being discussed.
The biggest difference between News In Slow and FrenchPod is the differing importance placed on teaching you French grammar.
News In Slow has a full page of grammar particulars attached to each lesson, whilst FrenchPod assumes you'll absorb grammar passively from listening to French conversation.
Choosing between them will depend on what kind of learner you are - do you need to know the mechanics of how a language works, or do you pick things up more loosely from immersion?
Beyond Podcasts, here are some of our favourite sites to learn French...
Talk in French
Talk In French takes a more freestyle approach, discussing random topics each episode and offering advanced discussions on language and culture. This makes it more suited to advanced French speakers as it doesn't include a transcript or grammar explanations.
However, you can download their grammar notebook upon subscription!
If you're intermediate to advanced, this podcast is for you, even if you can't pick up every word. Let the fluent narrative flow over you, and keep your ears pricked for French slang, known as verlan.
Talk in French is subscription-based, but offers a few samples to get you started.
So, if you're not speaking and interacting with a teacher or native French speaker, what are the benefits of podcasts more generally?
Podcasts are a great way to improve your listening and immerse yourself in French culture and language. But podcasts also offer...
- portability – podcasts are great for learners on the go!
- time-efficient: you can listen to podcasts while doing other tasks, such as long commutes or chores
- Money-saving: this is immersion for free, or for a very small subscription fee
- on-demand: you control when, where and how you listen, and you can fit them around your busy schedule.
Many French language podcasts also often offer complimentary grammar notes, transcripts, vocabulary and phrase lists, quizzes and exercises. This makes them a great option for any student who is serious about their French learning.
Finishing Off Our Top Ten...
So now we've given you an in-depth look into our favourite three French podcasts, let's briefly go over the remaining seven...
You could try Daily French Pod, which is recorded in France and covers a huge variety of different topics, from Sino-French diplomatic relations to the science of sniffles.
Every segment has a downloadable transcription, exercise page and French vocabulary list. These are geared more towards beginners.
On the downside, the lessons at Daily French Pod require a subscription
Another great option for those just starting their French journey is Podcast Français Facile. This is helpfully organised in line with your fluency level and each podcast is assigned to a level in the French proficiency exam structure - the DELF.
One possible hitch - the whole page is in French, so beginners may struggle to navigate it!
French etc. is another podcast introducing you to conversational French. First up, there's a short grammar lesson and then a topic is narrated by a French native speaker.
If you need a little extra support to fully understand, you can read the transcript provided whilst listening.
There's even a bar at the top where you can choose the level of French you want to hear, and options to do dictation exercises. There are also grammar lessons to clarify the gnarly world of French verbs.
You can access parts of French etc. for free, but if you want to unlock all the content, you'll need to buy a premium subscription.
If you're a little more advanced. you may like to listen to the same news podcasts that native French speakers tune into each week to catch up on current events in France.
France Info News has a podcast specialising in informative reportage, with sprinklings of satire and humour to keep things fresh and engaging.
This podcast is great for more advanced learners who want to enrich their French studies by listening to speakers discuss French culture, history and news in a more in-depth fashion.
Even for intermediate learners, simply letting these faster news podcasts flow over you will give you the chance to immerse yourself in the flow and rhythm of French words, and familiarise you with the accent.
Those are just a few of our favourite French language podcasts available to anyone with an internet connects. There are so many podcasts and online resources out there, we couldn't possibly list them all, let alone provide an in-depth review and critique.
However, we invite you to check out more podcasts on this summary page, try a few out and see which suit you and your learning style best.
Alternatively, find out about the best French dictionaries and translators for learning French.