21 of the best free websites, podcasts and apps to use to improve your French in 2021

Improve your French language skills in 2021 with these free resources. Pic: Tishchenko/Getty

Improve your French language skills in 2021 with these free resources. Pic: Tishchenko/Getty - Credit: Archant

Make 2021 your best year yet for learning French thanks to these handy online resources

Learn French on the go with these sites and apps. Pic: NicoElNino/Getty

Learn French on the go with these sites and apps. Pic: NicoElNino/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Was your New Year’s resolution to start learning French? Perhaps you’ve rediscovered your love for the language years after studying it at school? Whatever your motivations or language learning goal, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut with your practice. We’ve rounded up some of the best websites, podcasts, YouTube channels and apps for learning French to make 2021 your best year yet for your French skills.

1. The Easy French YouTube channel

Ideal for: Advanced beginner to intermediate

Picture the scene: you’re on your first trip to Paris and every French person who speaks to you seems to talk a thousand times faster than the audio clips you’ve been practising with in your French lessons. Don’t panic! Easy French has your back. This YouTube channel is packed with authentic video interviews on the streets of France, where Francophones answer a simple question posed by the presenter (What’s your favourite type of weather? What do you eat for breakfast?). Their answers are subtitled in French and English and it’s a great way of getting used to a variety of different speakers. As well as the ‘Easy French’ series, they also have a set of ‘Super Easy French’ videos for beginners.

2. Dictionnaire des Francophones

Ideal for: All levels

Prepare for your next trip to Paris with these French resources. Pic: CentralTAlliance/Getty

Prepare for your next trip to Paris with these French resources. Pic: CentralTAlliance/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The launch of the French Speakers’ Dictionary was met with widespread praise in March. In the works since 2018, this all-encompassing dictionary aims to represent the rich diversity of the French language around the world. Included are words and phrases from over 50 countries and 110 places, and suggestions from French speakers across the globe are welcomed for possible future inclusion. It’s available for free online or through its app.

3. Lawless French

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Ideal for: All levels

To solve any tricky French grammar conundrums, look no further than Lawless French, run by linguist Laura K. Lawless. Whether you’re puzzling over the pesky subjunctive or want the meaning to an unusual French expression, you’ll find the answers in simple English here. Test your listening skills with dictations or learn about fascinating French traditions. You can even test yourself on what you’ve learnt so far with fun quizzes. 10/10!

4. TV5MONDEplus

Ideal for: Intermediate upwards

Your one-stop shop for French TV, wherever you are in the world – and it’s free! TV5MONDEplus is a showcase for some of the best film and TV output from France, with genres to suit everyone – from travel documentaries to romcoms. Head to the Langue Française section to deepen your knowledge or find out more about French culture and society under Découverte. Check out the main TV5MONDE website for even more handy resources for learning French.

Up your French game in 2021. Pic: Stadtratte/Getty

Up your French game in 2021. Pic: Stadtratte/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Stadtratte

5. News in Slow French

Ideal for: All levels

Weekly news broadcasts spoken in French at a speed to suit your needs – that’s the ethos of News in Slow French. There are currently three levels of bulletins and the newest is aimed at beginners, with key information presented in simple language. Each episode is accompanied by a useful transcript with contextual translations. If you like the News in Slow French way of learning, why not look into their online courses?

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6. Une Devinette (riddles)

Ideal for: Intermediate upwards

Take a break from lessons and put your French to the test with a riddle! Aimed at native speakers but a great way to practise your skills as a French learner, these tricky puzzles (there’s over a 1,100 on Une Devinette) use wordplay to bamboozle.

7. Fortissimots (puzzles)

Ideal for: Intermediate upwards

For more French brain games, try Fortissimots’ brilliant free arrow-words, crosswords and other word games. Available to download via their website, they vary in difficulty level (represented by the number of grids in the ‘Force’ column) and you can even choose for a theme, like winter sports or Star Wars. Bonne chance...

8. Complete France’s tongue twisters

Ideal for: All levels

For a speedy and fun way to improve your French pronunciation, challenge yourself to a tongue twister (virelangue in French). We’ve rounded up some of our favourites in this fun article – try them all and see which one you like the best. Your speaking confidence is bound to go up after tackling these twisty phrases. Once you’re done, don’t miss the rest of our French language articles for handy tips, expressions and quizzes to perfect your French.

9. Forvo

Ideal for: All levels

Whether you’re just starting on your French journey or you’re already reading all the classic authors, Forvo is an invaluable pronunciation resource. Forvo is like having a teacher with you 24/7, ready to respond to your pronunciation queries. Simply type in the word you’re stuck on and you’ll get audio clips showing how to pronounce it like a native speaker.

10. Paralleltext.io

Ideal for: All levels

Book lovers – you won’t want to miss this. On Paralleltext.io, you can choose from a selection of French and English novels and with a click of a button, you can see their translations and line-by-line dictations in your chosen language. Here’s a great example to try it out: Alain-Fournier’s classic novel Le Grand Meaulnes. Click on the word or sentence to hear it said aloud, then click on the arrows at the left hand side to translate it into English.

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11. Reddit’s French subreddit

Ideal for: All levels

If you’re familiar with reddit, it’ll come as no surprise that there is a dedicated French learners’ subreddit where you can get your burning French questions answered by some of the other 135,000 eager users. Sign up for an account to join in with this friendly, lively community of learners and teachers.

12. Français Authentique YouTube channel

Ideal for: Intermediate upwards

If you’re already got some basic French skills and want to take your proficiency to the next level, Johan’s YouTube videos will be a huge help. His focus is on teaching you the ‘real’ French spoken in France, rather than textbook French, by immersing you in the language in his videos. He speaks clearly and quite slowly, plus there are French subtitles for every video. If you like his style, try one of his online French courses.

13. L’Obs Conjugaison

Ideal for: All levels

The French-language news magazine L’Obs has both website and app versions of this terrific conjugation tool. Simply input the verb that you’re having trouble conjugating and ta-dah, you’ll get all its possible forms at the push of a button.

14. Learn French Words

Ideal for: Beginners

To refresh your memory after some time off from learning French, try these 23 bite-sized lessons from the aptly named Learn French Words on Spotify. They’re good to leave on in the background and let them sink in while you’re doing jobs around the house.

15. Tandem

Ideal for: Advanced beginner upwards

Real-life language tandem meetings may be tricky during the coronavirus era, but there’s luckily a range of websites designed to match learners from across the world. On Tandem, you can find a partner by searching for their location, languages and interests, then once you’re set up you can communicate by text, voice-note, video or call.

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16. RFI Savoirs

Ideal for: Advanced beginners upwards

Part of the Radio France Internationale brand, RFI Savoirs should be your go-to site for improving both your listening skills and your French culture knowledge. They also have a useful range of twice-monthly newsletters with a selection of broadcasts and articles aimed at learners.

17. The French Experiment

Ideal for: Young learners/beginners and intermediates

If you’re looking for a great way to introduce children to the joys of French, you’ll love these adorable short stories from The French Experiment. They’re read aloud in French by lively speakers and you can find a transcript in both French and English below. They’re also a fun tool for newer adult French learners.

18. Duolingo

Ideal for: All levels

We couldn’t do a language tool round-up without including one of the biggest names in the industry. Duolingo’s gamified approach to language learning has won it fans around the world, and its French offerings are some of its best. There are eight checkpoints to reach encompassing a variety of topics ranging from Sports to Spiritual.

19. Coffee Break French

Ideal for: All levels

Grab a café au lait and indulge in one of these free podcasts from Radio Lingua, each a manageable 15-20 minutes in length. Coffee Break French’s amazing podcast library caters for all levels and you’re bound to learn some new French vocabulary and interesting facts about your favourite country. We especially love the Coffee Break Travel Diaries cities where you can enjoy a virtual and educational visit to French cities.

20. Internet Polyglot

Ideal for: Beginners, intermediates

If you can’t get enough of language games, you’ll never be short of fun on Internet Polyglot. Try the typing games for a useful way to memorise vocabulary – if you don’t get a question right, you will have to type the answer correctly before it will let you move on, which makes sure it sinks in.

21. Boukili

Ideal for: Young learners/all levels

Here’s another useful literary resource that seems to be aimed at children but is actually appropriate for learners of all levels. Sign up to Boukili for free and explore some 120 beautifully illustrated books in French, aimed at learners from four years old.

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