Teach Yourself Conversational French

Rachel Hanson
Talk, talk, talk!

It seems more and more people want to learn foreign languages nowadays, and the good news is that it's only getting easier to teach yourself conversational French, Spanish, or any other language. Textbooks have been in abundance for quite some time, and audiotapes and CD's have been around for a while, but it's the Internet that is the new language-learning resource.

Ways to Learn French

Of course, the old-fashioned way of learning a language, which is to simply sign up for a class at your school or a night class at a nearby university, is still a viable option. However, for many people, this option is too expensive and takes too long to achieve one's goals. Generally, these courses divide their focus over listening, speaking, reading and writing. For someone who wants to learn conversational French only, and do it as quickly as possible, an academic language course may not be the best option.

Textbooks to Teach Yourself Conversational French

While many textbooks are geared towards learning French academically, a few focus on the conversational side of learning French. One highly recommended one is French in Action (also called the Capretz Method). This book uses characters engaging in conversation to teach new vocabulary and sentence structures and since all vocabulary is explained through pictures, no translation is necessary. Having a dictionary on hand for the rare picture you can't interpret is a good idea, but generally speaking, this book is a complete resource all in itself. If you want to learn even more, you can also purchase the workbooks and the audio CD's that go with this textbook so that you cannot only read the conversations, but also hear them. This last bit is important for learning pronunciation.

Textbooks for Conversational French:

Online Resources

  • French Picture Dictionary
    • Learning vocabulary through pictures is not only the best way, but also the easiest way. This dictionary offers a wide array of common nouns that you'll need in conversational French.
  • Babble: How to Speak French
    • This site allows you to learn conversational French online or from your Android device or iPhone. Lessons focus on pronunciation, grammar, listening comprehension and more. The first lesson is free and will give you an idea whether this is the right format for you.
  • Online Instructed Learning
    • LearnFrenchatHome is one of many who offer online language learning opportunities that involve the expertise and attention of a teacher into the online learning experience. This type of lesson is frequently completed over Skype and for those who are very serious about learning, but need some motivation on a daily basis, this option works well.

    Audio Learning

    Audiocassettes, and now CD's, are a great way to teach yourself conversational French. Some methods are specifically geared towards learning in the car, which can be a major timesaver if you're able to drive safely at the same time. Many audio methods come with an accompanying book so that you can see the phrases that you are hearing and repeating. This option works well for some people, such as learners who rely heavily on visual stimuli; however, for other learners, this visual input could do more harm than good. Since French spelling is so different from English, students trying to learn French on their own come up with a completely English sounding pronunciation of it.For this reason, if the materials you purchase do come with a written text, put it aside for the first few weeks. Sit down; close your eyes; listen and repeat. Try to match the given pronunciation as closely as possible. After you feel you have a reasonable grasp of listening and repeating, then take out that book and read along. You might be shocked that none of those 'R's' and 'T's' at the ends of words get pronounced!

    Popular Audio Methods:


Of course, everyone wants to learn conversational French quickly, and that's why so many companies give titles to their products that make one think that this is the method to choose in order to learn quickly. While the basics can be learned quickly, remembering them and getting the pronunciation right takes lots of time. Have patience with yourself and have fun!

Teach Yourself Conversational French