But we all know that every service comes at a cost in today’s modern society, so how can you learn French for free? Is it possible to get to grips with the phonetic building blocks and the most complex idiomatic expressions in French? Do in-person classes complement self-taught courses that anyone can follow by themselves using the internet or other resources?
Of course, self-taught learners need the right equipment (a computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.), so this option is not completely free. Normally, it is apps that allow us to learn for free to some extent. Mondly and MosaLingua, to note just two examples, are apps that meet the needs of many learners. They often have a friendly feel and are sometimes designed for particular audiences (employees or children, for example). They offer activities to build vocabulary, short conversations, phonetic exercises based on repetition, and more.
Why should you choose a French language school in France? To answer this question, it’s important to point out that however sophisticated they are, digital tools cannot offer the same effective feedback and correction as traditional classes. Voice recognition is not as good at helping learners to improve poor pronunciation as a real-life teacher. In addition, the free versions of apps often offer only limited functionality.
By choosing the Centre International d’Antibes, you will benefit from the experience and skills of teachers who can help you to identify and correct your mistakes. This is the way to make quick progress. You will find it much easier to reach an advanced level, understand a newspaper article or retain information from a television report if you have previously taken face-to-face classes.
Platforms such as YouTube offer thousands of videos by teachers which tackle a grammar question or discuss problems associated with pronunciation. Of course, at the Centre International d’Antibes, your teachers know better than anyone how to help you improve your knowledge by explaining a tricky point of grammar and getting you used to using what you have learned in context.
But how can you improve your French and, more specifically, your understanding of audio materials? If you like literature, don’t forget about audiobooks: some sites have books that you can download for free. There are some people out there who volunteer their voices to read renowned works of literature. Litteratureaudio.com, Audiocité, Bibliboom and Librivox are some of the best sites if you’re looking to track down this kind of content.
Regularly listening to songs is another tip for learning French without breaking the bank. Just search online for the song you want and check specialist websites like www.lacoccinelle.net or www.laboiteauxparoes.com for the lyrics. Finally, short programmes like Caméra Café, Un gars, une fille [A Guy, A Girl] or Bref [In Short] and TV series such as Lupin and Family Business will enhance your learning.
Learning online assumes that you have access to resources that will enable you to better understand current events and expand your knowledge of French culture. For oral comprehension, TV5 Monde and RFI are the essential sites to know, as they feature videos and MP3 files accompanied by transcripts. As for newspaper articles, it’s well known that the most widely read online newspapers sit behind a paywall. However, if you subscribe to the newsletters of some of the major online publications, you’ll gain access to a few full news articles.
Keen to find out what level you have reached according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL)? Before you choose a French language course in France, it’s important to find out what level you have reached, so that you can identify the type of course that will best meet your needs. You can test your standard of French online for free thanks to the Centre International d’Antibes, which offers a series of 20 questions on French grammar and vocabulary.
Students who are just beginning to learn the language often find it hardest to study alone. It’s difficult to use a library or media centre, because there is only a limited selection of appropriate materials. Fortunately, apps such as Duolingo can help to lighten things up and allow learners to acquire some basic vocabulary. The educational website Le Français et Vous [French and You] can also help you to make progress through fun activities. This digital resource will enable you to learn while travelling, or whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Give it a go while on public transport, at the beach or over the weekend – it’s perfect!
There are even exercises suitable for children under the Sur les galets (On the pebbles) tab. For complete beginners, there are plenty of vocabulary activities, or you can practice articles, nouns and verbs with the exercises available on the site. Then, when you arrive in Antibes to start your classes, these concepts will be familiar to you, making it easier for you to learn.
If you are learning French at our school in Antibes on the Côte d’Azur, you will be able to communicate with the locals. Talking about the weather, asking someone to help you, and describing what you are going to do today are all simple conversations, but they are always beneficial.
Don’t be shy about engaging in conversation with your neighbours, on public transport or in shops. Do you find that people reply to you in English? No problem: just explain that you are a student and continue to speak in French. If you are in town, don’t forget to visit libraries and media centres as well. It’s a great chance to borrow DVDs and CDs or flip through some magazines. The internet is also very useful for self-taught students.
Make sure to check out websites like Le Français et Vous (French and You) – that’s our educational website, as you’re no doubt aware. Free grammar exercises and French games are available on the Sur les galets (On the pebbles) tab, while under Sur les pavés (On the cobblestones), you’ll find cultural information. Consider also checking out YouTube, where some internet users have posted videos of French songs complete with lyrics so that you can read the text while you listen to the song. There are even complete films in French.
Finally, don’t overlook media sources, such as free newspapers, radio and television. You can easily find free magazines such as 20 minutes or Direct matin on public transport or out and about. And it’s equally easy to listen to podcasts of your favourite programmes broadcast by the major radio stations (France Info, Europe 1, RTL, etc.). So, as you can see, the possibilities are endless.
Now, you just need to get down to work!