As the world gets smaller, learning to speak another language is an invaluable asset. Whether you choose to learn French to secure other career avenues, or just to make international friends, speaking French is a wonderful tool to add to your skill set. It used to be that you would have to pay several hundred dollars to take lessons, but now there are several online sites that offer at least beginning French for free.
Seven Free Options for Learning French
The following sites offer the best options for learning French for free. While you won't be able to master French completely, each of these sites offers the equivalent of at least a beginning year of French, and several even cover intermediate concepts. It's a great way to obtain a working knowledge of French and a solid foundation for further building.
1. E Language Schools
When it comes to learning a language, some students feel more comfortable is they have a firm grasp of the grammar of that language. For this, E Language School is a very good choice. You'll find both videos and a substantial list of grammar topics, phrases and words under the 'words and phrases' link in the table of contents. The site is pretty comprehensive for the beginner and is organized well; however, sometimes links are broken which makes it frustrating for anyone trying to navigate. Nonetheless, the site is complete enough that any student just starting out can use it as their 'grammar workbook' of sorts and still find that they will learn quite a bit.
2. BBC French
Many know The British Broadcasting Network, or BBC, as a venerable institution in the arena of news gathering, but few realize that they also offer French lessons. Several categories, all in the name of travel, are listed on the news company's site, including:
- The Basics
- Food and Drink
- Getting Around
What makes BBC a particularly good option if you're going for freebies, is that the site uses multimedia presentations. Everything is focused on videos, online magazines, and television spots. It might be hard for some to follow because there is no clearly defined, definitive sequence to follow. However, if you're willing to explore a little bit, BBC is a gem for learning the French language for free.
LiveMocha is a cross between Rosetta Stone and Auralog's Tell Me More, featuring both an immersion style of learning with pictures and spoken vocabulary, followed up with writing, speaking and grammar exercises. In addition, the site uses social networking with native speakers in your target language to help weave a complete program together.
What sets the site apart from others, however, is that you can 'friend' people from other countries who will correct and help you with your pronunciation and grammar. It works both ways though. As a native English speaker, you'll be asked to correct others' pronunciation and grammar. While the social networking aspect isn't required, it is very helpful in learning a new language.
Another nice feature of LiveMocha is that it is exceptionally well organized and comprehensive, considering that it's free.
4. The French Experiment
The French Experiment is definitely not a one-stop shop when it comes to French lessons. On the other hand, the site is well-organized and if you need additional review of particular topics, you can find it here. It covers all the basic vocabulary and grammar that you'd find in a high school course during your first semester of a French 1 class.
Bonjour.com is another option worth checking out, especially if you're looking for a supplement to what you're already doing. The site is sponsored by Rocket Languages, and it's worth noting that they offer a free trial to the program so if you feel like the method will work for you, you can purchase it later on. However, there is no purchase necessary to take advantage of the rudimentary French lessons they offer which include basic flashcard-style vocabulary exercises and games that you can play online to try to improve your learning. The course covers very basic French and would not work for intermediate or advanced students.
6. French in Action
Yale University's French in Action, has long been a favorite among French-learners. The program features videos of people repeating phrases and speaking slowly, so that even a beginner can pick up on what's being said. The idea is that you pick up the information in context. The collection is complete for the first year student, but some people may have trouble following the videos without a workbook companion.
7. Français interactif
Français interactif is one of the more interesting online language projects. The site is run by a group of students and a professor from the University of Texas. It is essentially, the first year/first semester textbook for beginning French. As such, it is very well organized and follows a natural progression through the language.
The interactive features allow you you can watch videos of native French speakers doing news spots in France, or be taken to a website to help enhance your learning. What's especially nice is that should you like the program, you can purchase the textbook in print format.
It should also be noted that this site is constantly being updated and improved. It is a very worthy and workable option for a beginning French student.
More Avenues of Learning
Before you spend any money purchasing a language learning program, make a point to check out your local library. Many libraries have programs that allow you to access online programs for free, or they carry the hard copies of popular programs like Rosetta Stone.
In addition, if you are serious about learning the language, seek out a local Alliance françaises in your area. Through these groups you can stay on top of the latest learning options as well as meet other French enthusiasts and native speakers on which to try out your French skills. After all, having to speak repeatedly is one of the best ways to become fluent.