Learning how to speak French? There are so many French courses and resources out there, it can be tricky to know where to start.
How do you know which French courses are good quality, without wasting hours testing them all out?
The good news is that there are tons of affordable and even free ways to learn French.
I’ve put this article together so you’ll know where to start with learning French. I’ve explored and tested countless free French learning tools to find the best ones out there. That way, you don’t have to.
Let’s take a look at these free online French language resources and classes.
Free Online Audio & Podcasts to Help You Learn French
Podcasts are a great way to learn French. You can take them with you wherever you go — on your commute, when you’re out walking the dog, or to listen to during your lunch break. Anytime you have a spare moment, you can fit in some language learning.
There are a lot of French language podcasts out there, but not many that provide a complete French course. I prefer podcasts that provide a step-by-step French class, or that teach French as it’s spoken in the real world.
Here’s where to start with French language audio:
- FrenchPod101 is free to sign up for. It has an impressive amount of French content available at every level from complete beginner to advanced. They’re a favorite of the Fluent in 3 Months team. You get a one-week free trial to test out lessons at all skill levels. After that, you do have to pay for the more advanced lessons and premium material, although it’s very much worth it.
- Coffee Break French has both free and paid options. It’s hands down one of my favorite French podcasts. In the course, you learn alongside another student and even get to take a trip to France via soundbytes with the host, Mark.
- Journal en Français Facile is a free news podcast in simple French from the French language broadcast rfi.
- TuneIn France or Quebec: You can listen to radio from either France or Quebec on TuneIn. Test out a few stations based on the dialect you’d like to learn, see what catches your attention and enjoy. Download the app to enjoy radio on your mobile device.
- Forvo: If you come across a new word, especially with French that has a lot of silent letter combinations, Forvo is a great place to listen to words spoken by a native speaker. It has a large database and is a good reference for pronunciation.
YouTube: Free Video French Lessons
YouTube is an excellent place to find free French classes and resources. The following channels give you hours of French lessons in an engaging medium. Plus, video has the added benefits of letting you see facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal aspects of the French language.
- FrenchPod101: In addition to their free podcast lessons, FrenchPod101 also has an excellent YouTube channel with hours of free content.
- Super Easy French: I love the Easy Languages channel because it offers you a lot of local culture and context. In this series, the hosts go out into the streets of France and interview the people they meet there. It’s a great way to hear the way people really speak the language, pick up useful conversational language, and practice your listening comprehension.
- French with Alexa teaches French with fun, short videos that cover everything from grammar to themed vocabulary lists. Alexa also features interviews in French as well as recipes!
- Comme Une Française TV: Learn about the French language and culture with Comme Une Française TV. Géraldine, the host, is an upbeat and enthusiastic tutor who shares her experience as a French native as well as tips for learning the French language.
- Français Authentique: Looking for content about French language and culture in French (instead of English)? Français Authentique offers learners just that in slow and clear French.
Free Online French Courses and Systems
If you’re interested in guided lessons, there is an exceptional selection of free online French courses and systems available. Here are just a few websites that offer online French lessons at no cost:
- TV5 Monde: TV5 Monde offers French learners a variety of news articles organized by CEFR level. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an advanced learner, they have articles with exercises to help you boost your French reading comprehension.
- EdX: The online learning portal EdX has a free French language course from WestonHS called On-Ramp to AP® French Language and Culture. It has several free video lessons taught by a native French-speaking instructor.
- Learn with Oliver: Learn with Oliver is an online flashcard tool that lets you learn and test yourself on French words and phrases. I personally love their email newsletters and look forward to seeing them in my inbox every day.
Free French Language Apps
Apps are a handy way to learn a new language, especially for those who like to study on the go.
- Memrise or Anki (for iOS, for Android, and for everyone else): These are flashcard systems that you can use to create your own French vocabulary decks or download those already created by other users. The desktop version of Anki is free, as is the basic version of Memrise.
- MosaLingua (for iOS and Android is another flashcard app, but this one comes with premade French flashcards so you don’t have to make your own (though you can if you want). There is both a free and paid version of this app.
- Duolingo: Duolingo is a popular language learning app that introduces you to both French vocabulary and grammar. It’s a gamified platform, so it’s fun to learn and easy to maintain your daily streaks.
- Drops: Pressed for time? Drops is the perfect solution. With the free version of the app, you just get five minutes of study time per day. But you can get a lot done in those five minutes. The system is built to keep you engaged and moving so that you get a significant chunk of vocabulary exposure in a short time via beautiful graphics and intuitive swiping.
- Clozemaster is a language learning app the uses cloze (fill in the blank) to help you master new vocabulary in French.
Free Online French Language Resources for Advanced French Learners
Take a Free Online Course in French
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) not only offer French language courses, but they also offer courses on other subjects in French. If you’d like to use French to learn more about something you’re passionate in, taking an online course in French can be a useful way to do two things at once.
- Coursera: Interested in learning more about negotiation or how to develop a startup? Or maybe quantum mechanics or even Java or C++ are more your thing? Whatever your interest is, there’s a good chance you can find a course taught in French on Coursera — they have over 80 to choose from!
- EdX: Much like Coursera, EdX also has a wide selection of courses where French is the language of instruction. With 40+ options, you can learn about Human Rights, Marketing, Algebra, Astrophysics or even Philosophy.
- BBC Languages: Looking for a fantastic introduction to the French language with video and tons of accompanying material? The BBC’s French course is a good place to start.
- Class Central: Class Central is an online portal that indexes free online courses from a variety of sites (including Coursera and EdX). Currently, they have more than 400 courses taught in French listed on their site.
Watch French Vloggers on YouTube
If you’re looking for native and relevant material for your French language learning, YouTubers are a great source. French vloggers cover everything from comedy to beauty to food, so you’re sure to find a YouTube personality who covers a topic that you’re interested in.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Natoo: Natoo is a comedy vlogger with a variety of videos and skits on her channel. The videos are in French, but you can watch them with English subtitles.
- Cyprien: Cyprien is also a comedy vlogger. In addition to his comedy skits, he also covers aspects of French culture, so it’s a great source of info about the language and other facets of life in France.
- Andy Raconte: Andy Raconte is another comedy vlogger with short, entertaining skits on her channel that cover a variety of social topics like jealousy, what it’s like to be socially awkward, and more.
- Norman Fait Des Vidéos: Norman is one of the most popular French comedians on YouTube. His channel features several skits as well as short “rants” where he discusses different topics such as dads, family dinners, and raclette.
- Je Ne Suis Pas Jolie: If you’re a parent, Je Ne Suis Pas Jolie is a great channel to use as a resource. This vlogger recently became a parent, so she shares her experience, discussing everything from night routines to household products. It’s a great place to pick up family-related vocabulary.
- Fast Good Cuisine: Do you love food? What about French food? If your inner foodie is screaming yes, then Fast Good Cuisine is the channel for you to not only satisfy your cravings, but to work on your food-related vocabulary in French.
- Joueur du Grenier: Into video games? Joueur du Grenier is a French vlogger who specializes in retro video games. He’s a dynamic presenter, but his channel may be best suited to intermediate or advanced learners because he speaks fairly quickly.
Free French Language Reading Materials
Finding reading material appropriate for your level in the language can be a challenge. Thankfully, there’s a decent selection of French reading resources available to you as a learner online for free.
- Wikipedia: Use Wikipedia to read short articles in French. You can switch back to your native language to check your comprehension.
- LingQ: LingQ is a popular online learning system that helps you acquire new vocabulary through its reading interface. It’s free to sign up, though if you want to use it long-term you’ll need to opt for a paid plan.
- The French Experiment: Looking for short stories to read in French? The French Experiment is a website that offers not only short reading excerpts in French, but useful grammar guides.
- Lingua.com: If you’re a beginning French learner, Lingua.com has a variety of easy reading material on day-to-day topics. They’re packed with useful vocabulary and are free to download.
- LanguageGuide.org: LanguageGuide.org is a well-curated collection of reading materials with audio accompaniment.
- eBooks Gratuits: Many classics are available to legally download free online. If you’re at the level where you’d be comfortable reading Alexandre Dumas or other open domain material, eBooks Gratuits has a lot of material you can dive into.
- Paralleltext.io: This unassuming website lets you read the classics like Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland with the French and English text side-by-side on the screen! Click a sentence to hear it pronounced by a computer voice. Tap the circle next to a sentence to change it from French to English and back. Switch from a side-by-side English/French view to French-only if your reading skills are more advanced.
What Free Online French Resources Do You Use?
It’s incredible how many excellent resources are available to learn French at no cost online. Though I’ve featured 36 places you can learn French for free, I’m sure there are many more. Is there anything you feel that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!
Want More? Check out Benny's favorite French resources.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.