How to Speak French Better: Improve French in 14 Easy Steps
What does a French life look like?
Take a moment. Close your eyes. Imagine yourself living la vie française (the French life). Are you walking cobblestone streets in the wine country of Côte-d’Or in Bourgogne? Are you eating Bouillabaisse in Marseille while gazing out at the sun setting over the Mediterranean?
What if I told you that living in France isn’t necessary for a French life?
You can live a French life wherever you are—and it’s not only fun, it’s also a smart way to improve French skills.
Outside of the exquisite architecture, haute cuisine and champagne, daily life in France may seem surprisingly familiar. The French binge-watch hours and hours of their favorite TV shows. They enjoy a good conversation or an app or two on their commutes to and from work. They follow YouTubers and watch all the latest viral videos.
Because of this, in the age of the internet, you can make some small adjustments to your everyday life to start practicing French all the time. We’ll show you the right language apps, websites and other resources to successfully improve French no matter how far you are from the Eiffel Tower.
How to Speak French Better: Improve French in 14 Easy Steps
Are you ready to live la vie française moderne (the modern French life)? Get out your beret and escargot and let’s improve French by getting Frenchified!
Okay, forget the beret…
Download the Best Apps to Dissect French Content
The first step to Frenchifying your life and improving your French is being in constant contact with French. And in fact, with the internet accessing French content is easy—but actually understanding and learning from it can be difficult.
Unless you have the right tools.
The secret is finding French content that does all the heavy-lifting for you. That means you should aim for content that has built-in tools to maximize learning. Check out these two programs for accessing and dissecting content to improve French.
FluentU brings authentic, entertaining French content within reach. With FluentU, you get a huge library of music videos, movie clips, inspiring speeches and more—which have all been transformed into personalized language learning experiences.
Every video comes with professionally translated English videos (which you can toggle on or off) as well as interactive subtitles. Just hover over any unfamiliar word and FluentU will instantly give you the definition, an isolated native pronunciation and memorable picture. You can also click to see other videos that have the word so you understand how to use it in any context.
Each video also comes with vocabulary review activities to reinforce new words, like fun quizzes and multimedia flashcards. Your progress with each word is tracked with a “Fluency Bar” that keeps track of how well you know it. Then the spaced repetition review system prompts you to check your understanding of your vocabulary at the right moment, before you forget what you’ve learned.
In other words, you’ll be taking strategic, practical steps to improve your French vocabulary, speaking and comprehension—all with fun videos that native speakers actually watch. Best of all, you can take this French practice anywhere with the mobile apps for iOS and Android.
LingQ is an online immersion program that allows you to access French written content as well as built-in translations as your are reading. It has a huge library of French written content on virtually any subject: fiction, history, science and even the news.
Simply choose your level of French (early beginner through advanced) as well as a lesson that interests you, open the lesson and start reading the French content. Many of the lessons also have corresponding audio so you can listen while you read along.
If you come across a word you don’t know, click on it for an immediate translation in the sidebar. From there, the word becomes a “LingQ:” it gets saved as a flashcard for review later. LingQ uses spaced repetition to help you review the vocabulary effectively.
In addition to LingQ’s materials, you can also upload your own content found on the web. This can be used for news articles, Quora answers or even social media posts that interest you.
Create a French Social Life to Practice Communicating
Humans are inherently social creatures. Much of our mood and even our health is impacted by meaningful connections with friends and family—sometimes even with people we barely know.
As chance would have it, socializing is also a great way to improve French, therefore let’s communicate with native speakers in French!
HelloTalk is a language-learning social media app aimed at bringing learners closer to a fully immersive social media experience. Upon downloading and installing the app, set your target language to French, and access a whole world of other French learners and native speakers.
The app’s features are two-fold. First, an active feed allows you to see posts made by other French speakers or learners, and you can also create your own posts for others to interact with. Second, an extensive messaging feature puts you in contact with other learners and speakers where you can have text and audio conversations in French.
Best of all, whether you’re messaging or creating a post for the feed, other users can easily correct your French using a built-in tool, so you can identify your errors and grow from them.
4. Online Communities
Even though these platforms weren’t created for language learning, Discord or Reddit offer an excellent community-driven French experience.
Discord is originally a voice and text chat for gamers, but in recent years has become more of a chat room. Simply create an account, choose a server (here are several options for French learners), specify your level of French and chat away.
There are often lively discussions related to video games, movies and TV shows, so let your inner nerd shine as you practice your French.
Reddit is an online forum comprised of different communities (called “subreddits”) that focus on a specific topic. One of the biggest French-speaking subreddits is r/france. Here you can access French content, discuss all things France and French culture and meet native French speakers.
If you’re finding the level of French difficult, try uploading a post into LingQ for instant translation!
Both Discord and Reddit are great places for meeting a friend or two to improve French with.
Having a learning partner to keep you accountable can make the difference between wanting to improve your French and actually succeeding at it.
Frenchify Your Internet for Nonstop French Input
Why not make your technology habits more productive by doing them in French?
Before we get to the best of the French internet, a first good step is to change your browser and social media languages to French. In the settings of sites such as Facebook or Twitter, you can set your default language to French. Feeling even more daring? Try changing your actual internet browser to French or even *gasp* your computer or phone. It could be a tricky situation at first, but after some time, you won’t even realize how easily you can navigate your computer or phone in French.
While these seem like little changes, it’s surprising how much French you can pick up by changing your interface languages to French. You’ll learn French words related to technology and even daily life. Plus, the constant exposure to these words while using your device will solidify the vocabulary in your brain with minimal effort on your part.
But don’t just settle for a French interface: follow French sites, social media accounts and more for a full-immersive experience.
Topito is the Francophone world’s answer to Buzzfeed. You can access posts about popular culture and general entertainment on the internet often focused on popular trends in TV, movies, lifestyle and fashion.
The feed is constantly updated, and most of the content is user-generated. There are quite a few instance of tricky French slang and internet short-forms, which are great for improving your informal French. But I also suggest brushing up on your basic French internet speak before logging on.
One does not simply relax without mindlessly scrolling through memes. Like everywhere else on the planet, memes have successfully penetrated modern French culture.
You can access memes in French on Memedroid so you can improve French while getting a belly-laugh or two.
Some big French social media influencers include Cyprien and Natoo. They both create humorous videos on YouTube to do with daily life and lifestyle, and they throw in an informal vlog or travel video every once in a while. In fact, they’ve even collaborated for a few!
While their French can be spoken rather fast and littered with slang words, turn on subtitles in French or in English to follow along more easily.
To effectively improve French with these videos, I suggest slowing the playback down to a .75 speed in YouTube’s settings, and watching with a notebook and pen in hand. Start by choosing five to 10 new words or phrases and write them down. This will be a good way to keep track of them and incorporate them into your future French speaking or writing practice.
8. French Media
In addition to informal French, I suggest you follow French news organizations on Facebook or Twitter in order to improve French. Great places to start include and France 24.
Le Monde (The World) generally focuses on news stories of international interest, and their content is in a rather formal, elevated register of French. France 24 instead focuses on more local stories and their language is a little less flowery.
As with other French written content, I recommend uploading articles to LingQ if you’re having trouble following for immediate translations.
Destress in French to Improve Your Comprehension Mindfully
In our stressful lives, meditation and mindfulness have become a must. It’s vital to take a moment (or five!) every now and again to calm the mind, slow down and keep focus of what’s important. My suggestion: destress in French!
Not only will it have benefits for your mental and physical health, but it’ll also expose you to new vocabulary and especially the impératif (command) verb form in French. Plus, using the tools below, you’ll hear French spoken in a slow, measured fashion—perfect for any learner hoping to improve French listening comprehension.
The meditation app Petit BamBou (Little BamBou) boasts that using it for just 10 minutes a day can get you feeling the benefits. There are over 700 meditations included, so pick one that fits your purpose for mindfulness, sleeping or navigating a stressful situation, and let your mind calm to the sound of French meditation.
Namatata is another app that has guided meditations for different stressful situations. The cute monkey leads you through different techniques through multiple meditations.
In that sense, this app isn’t just for in-the-moment relief: you can use this app to learn how to meditate and become a real mindfulness guru!
Watch Téléréalité for Fast, Informal French Listening
With meditation apps, we got calm, slow audio to practice French listening. Téléréalité (reality TV) gives you basically the opposite of that, to round out your comprehension practice and start getting you familiar with fast, informal French.
Reality TV is just as rampant in France as it is in the English-speaking world—take advantage of that to improve your French while you get your trash TV fix.
While watching téléréalité will expose you to some of the most advanced informal French at native speed, that doesn’t mean that lower-level learners can’t enjoy and learn from them.
I suggest slowing the speed down to .75 or .5 on the video player and adding French or English subtitles if they’re available. A crash-course in informal French would also prove useful for the filler- and slang-filled conversations of téléréalité participants.
“Les Anges” (“The Angels”) is a bit like the American TV show “The Real World.” In the show, housemates attempt to grow their professional and personal lives while living with strangers in a house in a different location every season.
Locations have included Los Angeles and Australia, and living with strangers who have opposing personalities often gives way to heaps of love, booze and drama!
“Les Marseillais” (“The People from Marseille”) follows a group of young adults from the south of France who work in various nightlife jobs around the world.
As expected, balancing their professional lives, personal lives and the partying lifestyle leads to romantic woes and tempers flaring, and this show is a great way to learn informal French and slang specific to the Marseille region.
Put Your Digital Assistant in French
Last but not least, complete your Frenchified experience by making your personal digital assistant French. If you have an Alexa or Google Home, set their language to French.
13. Amazon Alexa
In certain regions of the world of the world such as Canada, your Alexa can communicate and understand French. Simply command it to turn off the lights or set a timer in French, and she’ll respond in French back to you. Further, ask your Alexa to translate something into French if you get stuck!
14. Google Home
Setting French as the interface language is also possible for Google Home. You can practice making lists in French or getting reminders in French, and you can even access news updates.
Wait, when did we travel to France? Surrounded by la vie française moderne, I almost forgot that we were still here. Use these immersive techniques to improve French and live your life like a true Francophone!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.
This content was originally published here.