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Archive for the 'Tips & Techniques' Category

Get Down to Business in French

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Can you imagine going to a business meeting in France with no knowledge of business French? With a bit of reckoning and preparation, you can spare yourself a lot of embarrassment. All you need is a small set of business French phrases.

The world of work can be wildly different from one country to another, and when traveling somewhere for business—either permanently or as a visitor—you’ll have to quickly find your mark to make the best of your new business environment. 

In this guide to phrases for doing business in French, you’ll learn everything you need to work in France or conduct your business with French-speaking partners. We’ll cover everything from coworkers and meetings to job interviews, letters, and even professional phone calls. Let’s take care of business!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in French Table of Contents
  1. Getting Started
  2. Business Words and Phrases
  3. Coworkers and Meetings
  4. Nail a Job Interview
  5. Emails and Letters
  6. Business Calls
  7. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Getting Started

Jobs

Before we dive into specific business French phrases, let’s cover the basics and work on your first impressions. 

In this section, you’ll learn how to greet, how formal you should be, and what words and expressions you need to know if you want to work or conduct business in French.

1 – Greetings and Goodbyes

  • Bonjour (“Hello”) is the magic greeting that works for everybody at almost any time of day. Literally meaning “Good day,” it’s neither too formal nor too relaxed, so you really can’t go wrong with it.
  • Bonsoir (“Good evening”) is basically bonjour for evening and night.

When meeting someone for the first time, you might want to add a polite “Nice to meet you.” Here are a few options:

  • Enchanté(e). (“Delighted.”) 
    • This one can be used with anyone in any situation. It takes a final E in the feminine form.
  • Ravi(e) de vous rencontrer. (“Happy to meet you.”)
  • C’est un plaisir de vous rencontrer. (“It’s a pleasure to meet you.”)

Saying goodbye is even more straightforward. In any formal situation, always stick with Au revoir (“Goodbye”), and nothing else. Then, only once you become more casual with coworkers or business partners, you could use the relaxed Salut (“Bye”) or a similar alternative.

    → You’ll find everything on saying “Goodbye” and “See you later” in our blog article on Saying Goodbye in French.

2 – “Tu” or “Vous”?

The French have two distinct pronouns for “you”: vous and tu (formal and casual “you”). Whenever in doubt, you can’t go wrong with vous.

A simple rule: Follow your partners’ or coworkers’ lead. If they use tu when addressing you, answer with tu. Otherwise, just stick to the formal vous.

2. Business Words and Phrases

Business Phrases

Now we’ll introduce you to some of the most useful business French vocabulary. These are words and phrases that you’ll hear and use often in the French working world, so we recommend memorizing the ones that are most relevant to your situation. 

1 – The Company

We have two main words for “company” in French:

  • Une entreprise
  • Une société

There are some legal differences if you explore the working laws, but most people use both indiscriminately.

  • Yves Rocher est une entreprise de cosmétique. (“Yves Rocher is a cosmetics company.”)
  • Je travaille pour une société de transport. (“I work for a transport company.”)

In a more relaxed context, the casual word for “company” is une boite (literally, “a box”).

  • Je bosse pour une boite d’informatique. (“I work for an IT company.”)
    Note that I’m using the verb bosser, which is the casual slang term for travailler (“to work”).

Here are a few technical business French terms you might want to learn:

  • Le bureau (“The office”)
  • Un open space (“An open space” / “A bullpen”)
  • Une société par actions (“A joint-stock company”)
  • Une multinationale (“A multinational company”)
  • Une PME (Petite et moyenne entreprise) (“SMB – Small and medium-sized business”)
  • Une association (à but non lucratif) (“A non-profit organization”)
People Inside the Company

Une entreprise (“Company”)

2 – To Work

Now, here are some useful words and expressions for talking about work and employment.

  • Travailler (“To work”)
  • Bosser [Casual] (“To work”)
  • Gérer (“To manage”)
  • Recruter (“To hire”)
  • Chercher un emploi (“To look for a job”)
  • Un métier (“Occupation”)
  • Le travail (“Work”)
  • Un boulot [Casual] (“Job”)
  • Un taf [Slang] (“Job”)
  • Un poste (“Position”)
  • Une carrière (“Career”)
  • Un stage (“Internship”)
  • Un contrat (“Contract”)

3 – Top Business Words

You’ll notice that some words have a feminine form and some words don’t. I’m only adding the feminine form when it’s relevant and commonly used. This is because, in many cases, it’s still customary to use the masculine form for any gender.

Let’s start with the workforce:

  • Le personnel (“The staff”)
  • Un employé [Male] / Une employée [Female] (“An employee”)
  • Un stagiaire / Une stagiaire (“An intern”)
  • Un apprenti / Une apprentie (“An apprentice”)
  • Un cadre (“An executive”)

The management:

  • Le patron (“The boss”)
  • Le PDGPrésident-directeur général (“The CEO”) 
  • Un directeur / Une directrice (“A director”)
  • Un manager (“A manager”)
  • Un employeur (“An employer”)
  • Le comité de direction (“Top management”)

And now some departments and geographical terms:

  • Le siège social (“Head office”)
  • Une succursale (“A branch”)
  • Une filiale (“A subsidiary”)
  • Les ressources humaines or RH (“Human Resources”)
  • Le service marketing (“The marketing department”)
  • Le service des ventes (“The sales department”)
  • Le service technique (“The technical department”)
  • La comptabilité (“The accounting department”)
The CEO

Le PDG (“The CEO”)

4 – Talking About Money

If you’re doing business, chances are you’ll eventually find yourself talking about money.

Let’s start with the basics before we move on to some technical financial vocabulary:

  • L’argent (“Money”)
  • Un salaire (“Salary”)
  • Un bulletin de salaire (“Payslip”)
  • Une avance (“An advance payment”)
  • Une retenue sur salaire (“A payroll deduction”)

  • Les impôts (“Taxes”)
  • Les charges salariales (“Wage costs”)
  • Un RIB (“Bank details”)
    • Veuillez joindre votre RIB à ce formulaire. (“Please, attach your bank details to this form.”)
  • Les bénéfices (“Revenue” / “Profit”)
    Le bénéfice net (“The net revenue”)
    Le bénéfice brut (“The gross revenue”)

  • Le chiffre d’affaire (“Turnover”)

  • Les actions (“Stocks”)
    • Mes actions sont en hausse. (“My stocks are rising.”)
    • Mes actions sont en baisse. (“My stocks are declining.”)

3. Coworkers and Meetings

Now that you have a large business vocabulary to talk about companies and money, let’s dive into more specific topics, starting with your coworkers’ meetings. Quite a program, right? No worries, we’ll keep it simple!

  • Un collègue (“Colleague” / “Coworker”)
  • Un partenaire (“Business partner”)
  • Un associé (“Associate” / “Partner”)

Now, onto the most useful French business phrases for interacting with coworkers and speaking up in business meetings.

1 – Asking a Colleague for Help

It’s perfectly fine in France to ask for assistance if you don’t understand something, if you’re lacking some important piece of information, or if you just think your current task should be tackled with outside help.

Below, I’ll write some example sentences using tu (casual “you”), as this is by far the most common way to address your coworkers unless you’re working in an unusually uptight work environment.

  • Est-ce que tu peux m’aider ? (“Can you help me?”)
  • Tu pourrais m’expliquer ça ? (“Could you explain this to me?”)
  • Je ne comprends pas ce document. (“I don’t understand this document.”)
  • Est-ce que tu sais utiliser ce logiciel ? (“Do you know how to use this software?”)
A Woman Helping Her Colleague

Est-ce que tu peux m’aider ? (“Can you help me?”)

2 – Thanking or Congratulating

  • Merci pour ton aide. (“Thank you for your help.”)
  • Merci pour le coup de main ! [Casual] (“Thanks for the help!”)
  • Bon travail. (“Good work.”)
  • Excellent travail ! (“Excellent work!”)

3 – Raising Concerns

You can have many reasons to voice your concerns, and in most places, French employees do so rather freely. If something is wrong, good managers will always prefer to know the hard facts than having you sugarcoat it and later find out the truth.

Ideally, you should express your concern in a polite and constructive manner, showing that you’re trying to solve a problem and not just complain for the sake of it.

  • Je n’ai pas été formé pour cela. (“I haven’t been trained for this.”)
  • Le délai est trop court. (“The deadline is too short.”)
  • Nous n’avons pas le budget pour ___. (“We don’t have the budget for ___.”)
  • Nous n’avons pas les ressources pour ___. (“We don’t have the resources for ___.”)
  • Nous n’aurons pas le temps de terminer. (“We won’t have enough time to finish.”)
  • Il faudrait reporter cette réunion. (“We should reschedule this meeting.”)
  • Il y a une erreur dans ce document. (“There is a mistake in this document.”)
  • Nous n’avons pas de documentation là dessus. (“We don’t have documentation on this.”)

When the French complain about their hectic lifestyle, lack of leisure time, or how they’re having trouble balancing their professional and personal lives, they use the expression: Métro, boulot, dodo. (“Metro, work, sleep.”). This is the equivalent of talking about the rat race.


4 – Making Apologies

We all make mistakes, and as long as you’re not denying them and take accountability, you should be just fine!

  • Je suis désolé. (“I’m sorry.”)
  • Désolé pour tout à l’heure. (“Sorry about earlier.”)
  • Désolé de ne pas avoir pu t’aider. (“Sorry I couldn’t help you.”)
A Chaos Scene in the Office

It’s all about working through your differences.

5 – Afterwork Mingling

Getting to know your coworkers or business partners is important, and France has a well-established tradition of handling crucial decisions and agreeing on lucrative contracts over what we call déjeuner d’affaire (“business lunch”).

Among colleagues, it’s also common to have a drink after work or meet in informal settings to get to know each other better.

  • Tu travailles dans quel service ? (“In what department do you work?”)
  • Tu bosses sur quel projet ? (“On what project are you working?”)
  • Tu travailles dans l’équipe de Nicolas ? (“Are you working on Nicolas’s team?”)
  • Tu travailles ici depuis longtemps ? (“Have you been working here for a long time?”)
  • Tu faisais quoi avant de travailler ici ? (“What did you do before working here?”)


4. Nail a Job Interview

Job Interviews

If there’s one situation where you’ll need a lot of business phrases and vocabulary, it’s certainly a job interview. You may have done well with your letter, and nobody saw you sweat during the phone call, but can you make it through the actual interview? Now is your time to shine.

You’ll need some practice to bring your game to the next level, but once you’ve rehearsed what you want to say and how to answer the most common questions, you’ll do just fine!

And now, here are a few examples of common questions in a job interview and how to answer them:

    Pouvez-vous me parler de vos études ? (“Can you tell me about your studies?”)
    Quels sont vos diplômes ? (“What degrees do you have?”)
    Quel est votre parcours scolaire ? (“What is your education background?”)

      J’ai un master en gestion de projets. (“I have a masters degree in project management.”)
      J’ai un diplôme en comptabilité. (“I have a degree in accounting.”)
      J’ai étudié le droit à l’université de Toulouse. (“I studied law at the university of Toulouse.”)
    Quelle est votre expérience professionnelle ? (“What is your professional experience?”)
    Pouvez-vous me parler de votre parcours professionnel ? (“Can you tell me about your job history?”)

      J’ai travaillé chez Yves Rocher pendant 4 ans. (“I have worked for Yves Rocher for four years.”)
      Je travaille pour Remedy Software depuis 2 ans. (“I have been working for Remedy Software for two years.”)
    Quelles langues parlez-vous ? (“Which languages do you speak?”)

      Je parle couramment Anglais. (“I speak English fluently.”)
      Je parle un peu Français. (“I speak a bit of French.”)
      J’ai des notions d’Allemand. (“I have German basics.”)

If you didn’t understand the question, don’t hesitate to ask the other person to repeat:

  • Vous pouvez répéter, s’il vous plaît ? (“Could you repeat, please?”)
  • Pardon, je n’ai pas bien entendu. (“Sorry, I didn’t hear that.”)
  • Excusez-moi ? (“Excuse me?”)
    → For more details on how the interview is handled and many more question examples, make sure to stop by our full guide on How to Get a Job in France.
A Woman Interviewing A Man

Il passe un entretien d’embauche. (“He’s interviewing for a job.”)

5. Emails and Letters

Let’s face it, you’ll probably never send an actual letter for any business purpose in France. Surprisingly, we still use paper for a ridiculously big portion of our administrative procedures, but private companies moved to the digital era a couple of decades ago.

Nonetheless, you may read the word une lettre (“a letter”) in a business context. Just remember that we usually don’t mean a paper letter, and are rather referring to an email. This is the case for une lettre de motivation (“a cover letter”), for example, which nobody’s sending through the post office anymore.

When writing a French business letter, you’ll typically want to include three things before getting to the point:

1. Your personal details (name, address, phone number, email).

2. The other person’s details, to make sure it gets into the right hands. If you don’t know the person’s name, you can mention the name of the department. Another option is to write the name of the company and add à qui de droit (“to whom it may concern”).

3. [Optional] The topic of the letter, such as Candidature pour un poste de professeur d’Anglais (“Application for an English teaching position”) or Récapitulatif de nos conditions de distribution (“A summary of our distribution terms”).

Then, you should open the letter with a greeting. If you know the name of your reader, feel free to use it. For instance: 

  • Monsieur Morel, (“Mister Morel,”)
    You should always use the last name.
  • Cher Monsieur Morel, (“Dear Mister Morel,”) is not formal enough for a cover letter, but it’s fine for most business transactions. 

If you’re not sure, you can’t go wrong with: Madame, Monsieur, (“Madam, Mister,”).

There are tons of options for ending a French business email or letter, but you don’t want to be too submissive or old-fashioned. Here are a few timeless options:

  • Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, mes meilleures salutations.
    (“Please accept, Madam / Mister, my best salutations.”)
  • Veuillez recevoir, Madame, Monsieur, mes respectueuses salutations.
    (“Please receive, Madam / Mister, my respectful salutations.”)

6. Business Calls

In many big companies, Skype, Teams, or other similar audio conference solutions are already much more popular than phone calls. In the last company I worked for, I don’t believe I saw more than a couple of phones for 200 people.

However, in small businesses and administration, the phone is still alive and kicking. Luckily, the phrases and vocabulary are pretty similar to what we’ve covered already, except for a few added technical terms for online solutions.

Here’s some useful French for business phone calls and other long-distance interactions:

  • Allo ? (“Hello?”) is toned as a question, to make sure the other person can hear you. It can be used over the phone or in online calls, but never in person (unless you’re in Quebec). Most phone conversations start with Allo ?

Then, you may want to make sure you’ve dialed the right number or that you’re talking to the right person:

  • Bonjour, c’est bien le magasin Darty à Toulouse ? (“Hello, is this the shop ‘Darty’ in Toulouse?”)
  • Bonjour, monsieur Morel ? (“Hello, is it monsieur Morel?”)
  • Je cherche à joindre monsieur Morel, s’il vous plaît. (“I’m trying to reach mister Morel, please.”)
  • Pouvez-vous me mettre en relation avec le service financier, s’il vous plaît ? (“Could you please connect me to the finance department?”)

Should you be on the other side of the phone, here are a few useful sentences to handle calls:

  • Ne quittez pas. (“Hold the line.”)
  • Je vous le (la) passe. (“I will put you through to him [her].”)
  • La ligne est occupée. (“The line is busy.”)
  • Est-ce que je peux prendre un message ? (“Could I take a message?”)
  • Est-ce que vous voulez patienter ? (“Would you like to hold a moment?”)
  • Pourriez-vous rappeler plus tard ? (“Could you call back later?”)
A Woman Working Overtime

Allo, monsieur Morel ? (“Hello, is it mister Morel?”)

And finally, here are a few expressions for online calls specifically:

  • Est-ce que vous m’entendez bien ? (“Can you hear me well?”)
    Oui, on vous entend très bien. (“Yes, we can hear you very well.”)
  • La connexion est très mauvaise. (“The connection is very bad.”)
  • Je vous entends assez mal. (“I can hear you rather poorly.”)
  • La connexion a été coupée. (“The connection was lost.”)

And of course, remember the old trick you’ve learned talking to your mother-in-law:

  • Désolé, ça va couper. Je passe dans un tunnel ! (“I’m sorry, you’re breaking up. I’m going through a tunnel!”)

7. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about business French phrases, from useful French vocabulary to business letters, emails, phone calls, and workplace interactions. Did I forget any important topic you’d like to learn about?

Do you feel ready to jump right in and start handling your French partners in their native languages, or go and apply for a French company?

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Your private teacher will help you practice your business French and more, using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples for you (they can review yours, too, to help improve your pronunciation). 

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

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10 of the Best YouTube Channels to Learn French

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Have you noticed how difficult it can be to stop aimlessly scrolling through YouTube videos, from one channel to the next recommendation? Before you know it, it’s three a.m. and tomorrow’s alarm clock will sound like really bad news.

And have you noticed how difficult it can be to learn a language? 

But what if you could combine business with pleasure and turn some of your relaxing YouTube time into French learning? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

In this article, I’ll present the best French YouTubers and channels to practice French in 2020, from the best French learning channels to the most informative and entertaining content by popular French YouTubers. When coupled with the FrenchPod101 channel, you’ll find that the channels on this list have everything you need to immerse yourself in the French language and make quick progress.

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Table of Contents
  1. Learning French with FrenchPod101 and YouTube
  2. FrenchSounds
  3. 100% Chanson Française
  4. Easy French
  5. Golden Moustache
  6. Le Monde
  7. InnerFrench
  8. 750g
  9. Dr. Nozman
  10. YouLearnFrench
  11. Les Shadoks
  12. Le Mot De La Fin

Man Watching Video on Tablet

Regarder des vidéos (“To watch videos”)

1. Learning French with FrenchPod101 and YouTube

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re already familiar with the FrenchPod101 YouTube channel. As far as French learning goes, this is your number-one destination for a wide variety of free content and resources, ranging from listening and pronunciation exercises, grammar lessons, new vocabulary, cultural insights—you name it.

But at the end of the day, you might feel like you want to expand your YouTube horizons and complement FrenchPod101 with more channels in popular categories: documentaries, comedies, science shows, sitcoms, reaction videos, and cooking how-to’s, to name a few. There are so many channels out there!

As a learner myself, I strongly believe in the power of exposure for language acquisition; immersing yourself in French can help you more than any grammar lesson ever could. You can effortlessly become more fluent by listening to French music and podcasts; watching movies, series, and documentaries; and reading books, articles, or magazines in French.

In 2019, video streaming was king, with eighty percent of the total Internet traffic being related to streaming—and YouTube was by far the biggest player. With a wealth of content in every language, it has countless channels for you to practice your French with. But it can be overwhelming to find the best channels, for sure.

Let me narrow it down for you, with a list of the best YouTube channels to complement your French studies!

2. FrenchSounds

Category: Language
Level: Everyone

This old-school channel may be the best place to learn and practice the sounds of French on YouTube. It features the most thoroughly detailed explanations of how to produce the various sounds of the French language. I recommend this channel to students of all levels, even if you’re already fluent.

How do you move your lips and tongue to produce our set of nasal vowels? How do you channel the air through your throat to make the French guttural R? Everything is explained on FrenchSounds, with lots of carefully articulated examples and practical exercises.

This channel isn’t active anymore, but with sixty tutorials going from the most basic sounds to the most advanced topics (sentence musicality, rhythmic groups, poetic recitation), you’ll have more than enough material to truly master French pronunciation.

3. 100% Chanson Française

Category: Music
Level: Everyone

With a sizable collection of French music hits in various genres, 100% Chanson Française is an entertaining way to immerse yourself in the language and practice your listening skills. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t have many recent tracks, as French record companies are pretty touchy about copyright laws.

For some even older classics, you can check out the massive collection of Chanson Française. But if you want to listen to specific artists, you’ll have to target their individual channels, such as Gims or Angèle.

You may find that older artists, who use less slang and are overall more articulated, are easier to understand at an intermediate level. You can try Francis Cabrel or Johnny.

    → If you like talking about music and your favorite artists, make sure to stop by our free list of vocabulary about Music Day on FrenchPod101.com.

4. Easy French

Category: Listening practice
Level: Everyone

The concept behind Easy French is as easy as it is compelling: going through the streets of French cities to ask locals questions about…anything! And then recording their answers and reactions.

The result is a joyful blend of accents, paces, and manners of speech. These French YouTube videos are a great way to practice your street French by listening to real people. You’ll also get to learn a great deal about the culture and local mindset.

The questions are as varied and incongruous as:

And most importantly, these videos feature excellent subtitles in French and English

    → Inspired by these short interviews? Discover the Top 15 Questions you could ask your French-speaking friends.

5. Golden Moustache

Category: Comedy
Level: Intermediate & Advanced

Golden Moustache is a comedy studio that produces original videos on YouTube, mainly focusing on comedy and parody. They make fun of pop-culture icons such as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, as well as popular music and actors. They produce one-shot sketches, a long-running web series, and they even have a movie!

Backed by the French TV channel M6, they can afford sets and costumes with a production value that goes beyond what home-made amateur YouTubers could ever pull off—and they do so with undeniable panache.

Although comedy is not the easiest genre to follow as a student, these videos come with good subtitles, making them a great way to practice your listening skills while having a fun time.

6. Le Monde

Category: News & Culture
Level: Intermediate & Advanced

Le Monde (“The World”) is a French newspaper created in 1944, and today, it’s one of the most popular and influential in the country. It claims to have no political stance, and it tries to remain as neutral as possible, though it’s often considered to be in line with center-left ideas.

The YouTube channel features lots of videos, covering a wide range of topics: general news, politics, climate, Internet, music, cinema, television, science, sports, and more.

A lot of these videos are very well-articulated, in the typical slow-paced journalistic style. They also feature rather simple vocabulary, which makes this channel a great choice for intermediate or advanced learners who are willing to practice their listening skills and expand their minds.

7. InnerFrench

Category: Language & Culture
Level: Everyone

InnerFrench offers a mix of French learning videos for all levels, as well as interesting playlists such as Learning Strategies and Podcasts.

The Podcasts are perfect for intermediate students looking for interesting content in accessible French on a variety of topics (history, politics, sociology, psychology, media). They speak slowly and won’t burden you with convoluted sentences or weird slang.

Last but not least, you’ll find a sizable collection of TED Talks in French with subtitles in several languages, including English and French.

8. 750g

Category: Cuisine
Level: Intermediate & Advanced

Food and wine are two of the pillars of French culture, and this list couldn’t be complete without at least one French YouTube channel about food and cuisine.

Although arguably not the most exciting or exotic cooking channel on YouTube, 750g is a major player with a thriving online community, lots of informative videos, and countless recipes for every skill level and budget.

For something a bit crazier, head to the fast-food channel FastGoodCuisine, or maybe check out Hervé Cuisine and his mouth-watering collection of cake recipes.

    → Ready for some cooking time? Make sure to visit our vocabulary list on Utensils and Tableware, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation. It’s freely available on FrenchPod101.com.

9. Dr. Nozman

Category: Science
Level: Advanced

Dr. Nozman offers a large collection of well-documented videos on science. From silly experiments to serious videos on biology, physics, epidemiology, and high-tech gadgets, this channel has a lot going on. It’s meant for a wide audience, especially those with no technical background.

However, it features this typical “modern YouTubers” style with a frantic montage, elevator music, and relentless jump cuts. But this is the curse of all the best science channels I’ve found, such as e-penser and Max Bird.

10. YouLearnFrench

Category: Language
Level: Beginner & Intermediate

Although very classic and barren in its presentation, this channel features a spectacular amount of content in the form of dialogues, grammar, conjugation lessons, and a wealth of vocabulary lists like the ones on FrenchPod101.com.

You’ll select a topic, and for each item on the list, you’ll see a picture, read the word and its translation, and hear the recording in French. 

No frills and no fuss here: even the illustrations are super-simple and not distracting. Having the combination of image, sound, and text is super-effective in accommodating all types of learners and creating more connections in your brain. In short, it’s a great option for learning French on YouTube.

11. Les Shadoks

Category: Cartoon
Level: Intermediate

Les Shadoks is a French animated series with 208 very short episodes of two to three minutes. It was created by Jacques Rouxel and first shown on TV in 1968. It quickly became an iconic part of French culture, still fondly remembered to this day.

With a very unique brand of absurd humor, nonsensical science, and a cast of offbeat characters of all shapes and sizes (including stupid alien birds and a very angry gluttonous bug), there was nothing like the Shadoks when they first appeared fifty years ago. And when the series finally concluded in 2000, it was still as weird and unique as ever.

Voiced by legendary French actor Claude Piéplu, the speech is slow, articulated, and accessible for intermediate learners thanks to its simple vocabulary. The cartoons might seem childish, but if you’re onboard with the absurd premises, you’ll find it enjoyable for all audiences.

12. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned about the top ten YouTube channels to practice French. From French YouTubers to classic language podcasts, comedies, science shows, and cartoons, there’s definitely something for your taste and level! 

Did we forget any interesting channel that you’re already watching, or maybe a category you’re interested in? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!

The more you immerse yourself in the French language, the more beneficial it will be in the long run. It will help you practice your listening and reading skills, learn new vocabulary, and get familiar with common grammar structures as you hear them over and over. But most of all, if you watch some of this content on a regular basis, it will keep you connected with the language.

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review new words and learn their pronunciation.

And of course, the FrenchPod101 YouTube channel should be your first stop for language podcasts, grammar lessons, and vocabulary videos. Be sure to explore our playlists so you can easily pick the category and topic you need.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice your conversation skills with your private teacher, and they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with your pronunciation.

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How Hard is it to Learn French (Really)?

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Is French hard to learn, or is it easy? Which parts are harder for foreign learners, and which are easier?  

Whether you’re just contemplating the idea of learning French, or are struggling with something and looking for comfort, you’ve come to the right place.

With 230 million speakers, French is the official language of twenty-eight countries. It’s also a very prominent language in the international business and cultural scenes, making it a must-learn language for anybody interested in foreign cultures.

Overall, French is generally considered to be mildly challenging, but to be honest, it greatly depends on your native language. Students from English-speaking countries will enjoy a big headstart for many reasons that we’ll explain shortly. And if you’re a native speaker of a Romance language (Spanish, Italian, etc.), it’s not even a head start—it’s an unfair advantage!

In this article, I’ll do my best to give the language a fair trial and examine what makes French difficult and what things are easy about it. This knowledge will allow you to assess how hard it truly is to learn French!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning French Table of Contents
  1. The Easy Parts of Learning French
  2. Challenging Parts of Learning French
  3. What are the Best Ways to Get Started?
  4. Why is FrenchPod101 Great for Learning French?
  5. Le Mot De La Fin

1. The Easy Parts of Learning French

A Trio of College Students Having Fun While Learning

It’s easier to learn when you’re having fun!

Is French really that hard to learn? Not according to the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) or the ELC (European Language Center). French consistently scores as “Easy” in these two rankings of the most accessible languages for native English-speakers.

In their language difficulty ranking, the Foreign Service Institute puts French in the top ten easiest languages to learn for English-speakers, alongside notoriously easy languages such as Spanish and Italian. The FSI determines that it should take around twenty-four weeks (~600 hours) for an average student to reach a general professional proficiency (speaking and reading).

Why is that? Let’s go through the main reasons why French is much easier than you might think.

1 – French is a Romance Language

If you’re reading this article, chances are your understanding of English is quite solid already. Good news: this gives you a huge headstart on many things that are typically difficult to learn, such as the Latin alphabet or the core grammatical structures.

And if you’re a native speaker of another Romance language such as Spanish, Portuguese, or Romanian (the list goes on), your luck keeps on coming! For example, the French language is so similar to Spanish that before I ever learned any of it, I was able to read some simple Spanish text and understand a good half of it.

Knowing a Romance language before beginning your French studies also allows you to show off your understanding of complicated technical terms you’d normally have no business knowing—just because these terms are almost identical across Romance languages.

As an English-speaker, if you try to learn an Asian language, such as Mandarin, you’ll be thrown into uncharted waters with nothing to hold on to. Believe me, I tried. The alphabet is different, there are no familiar words or sounds, and the grammar seems completely alien. Sentences can sometimes omit a verb or subject, and it takes a lot of persistence to assimilate the grammar logic. But when learning French, you’ll be on familiar ground.

2 – Lots of Words are Identical in English and French

Many linguists are still arguing about the exact origins of the English language, but you may have noticed how many French words can be found there. It’s all over the place! It’s believed that nearly thirty percent of English words have a French origin.

Any of these words look familiar?

  • Un lion
  • Un dragon
  • Un capitaine
  • La justice
  • Le commerce
  • La musique
  • Une terrasse
  • Une carotte

As you learn French, you’ll truly appreciate this wealth of free vocabulary that you don’t really have to learn. And believe me, there’s a hefty list. English vocabulary has more in common with French than with any other Romance language.

A bit of history?

To be honest, many of these words are technical terms that you’re not likely to use every day. This is because English began as a Germanic language, and as a result, many of English’s core elements are of German roots. These elements include its grammatical structures and the most crucial words (prepositions, auxiliaries, pronouns, and more).

Then, later on, during the reign of William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England, French began being spoken in court and quickly became fashionable for the upper class to learn. It was spoken in schools and universities, which explains why many of the borrowed French words are scientific and technical terms.

Image of French Nobility with Wigs

Inexplicable vintage French fashion

3 – Grammar Structures are Similar

At first, you might find French grammar confusing, and this is mainly because the word order can differ. However, the basic structures are very similar in English and French!

The French language has subjects, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, and all that good stuff. I used to take it for granted before I started studying languages from different roots (Asian, Slavic, etc.), and now, I really appreciate little things like having a subject and a verb in my sentences!

Just look at simple sentences like:

  • Je marche doucement.
    “I walk slowly.”
  • Elle a une grande maison.
    “She has a big house.”
  • Nous avons perdu un peu de poids.
    “We have lost a bit of weight.”

It’s no coincidence if you can translate these sentences word-for-word.

And as you can see, whether we’re looking at adjectives or adverbs, they behave in very similar ways. Only the word order will differ in some cases.

4 – Conjugation is Much Easier Than it Seems

Has your first contact with French conjugation been a shock? Did you get anxious looking at all the specific endings, as well as the plethora of convoluted tenses? I get it, it’s intimidating. But don’t let it scare you away!

Sure, the verb endings will be challenging at first, until you realize that a vast majority of them behave in the exact same way. 

Like in any other language, the most common verbs are also the most irregular (just think about “to be” or “to go” in English…it’s quite a mess). You’ll have to learn these irregular conjugations before you get to the easy ones, but at least you know there’s a nice and cozy plateau at the top of this hill. 🙂

And what about all the tenses? What if I told you that out of the seventeen French tenses, you only need five to deal with any situation on a daily basis (and even less in spoken French)! Almost all of the complicated stuff is for literary purposes.

So, what do you think? Is French hard for English-speakers to learn, after all?

2. Challenging Parts of Learning French

Now, let’s have an honest look at the more complex aspects of the French language and how you can soften the blow with some quick and dirty tricks.

1 – False Friends are Worse than Open Enemies

Remember those thirty percent of English words with a French origin? Well, it turns out that it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s great to have this free vocabulary. But on the other hand, many similar—or even identical—words have different meanings! 

We call them faux-amis (“false friends”).

For example: J’aime le pain et le poisson. 

This doesn’t mean: “I love pain and poison.” It means: “I love bread and fish.”

Similarly, you should not confuse “Preservative” (Conservateur) with Préservatif (“Condom”) or you might make embarrassing mistakes at a fancy Sunday dinner.

Here are some of the worst offenders:

You should not confuse…With…
Une librairie (“A bookshop”)“A library” (Une bibliothèque)
Une fabrique (“A factory”)“Fabric” (Le tissu)
Sensible (“Sensitive”)“Sensible” (Raisonnable; Sensé)
Actuellement (“Currently”)“Actually” (En fait; Effectivement)
Attendre (“To wait”)“To attend” (Assister à)
Prétendre (“To claim”)“To pretend” (Faire semblant)

    → Do you want to know more? Here’s an extensive list of the French-English false friends.
Fish

“Hi, I’d like three pounds of poison, please!”

2 – Everything Has a Gender

If your native language has gendered nouns, like the majority of European languages, this aspect of French should not particularly frustrate you. However, this is something English-speakers often find confusing.

I mean, why is le soleil (“the sun”) masculine and la lune (“the moon”) feminine? What about une voiture (“a car”) being feminine while un vélo (“a bicycle”) is masculine? 

If you were to take a deep linguistic dive into the language’s history and its roots, you’d probably find a lot of good reasons for all of this. But for now, let’s just say it’s arbitrary.

Oh, and that’s not it. Gender has an influence on many parts of the language, such as the ending of verbs and adjectives, pronouns, or articles. For example:

  • Ma voiture est verte. (“My car is green.”)
  • Mon vélo est vert. (“My bicycle is green.”)

Look how the possessive pronouns ma and mon agree in gender with the noun. For the same reason, the adjective verte ends with an extra “e” in its feminine form.

3 – Pronunciation is Tough

Now, things are getting officially hairy. French pronunciation is tough, and there’s no way to sugarcoat it. One thing that might make you feel better about it is that it’s much easier than English pronunciation.

Yes, things like silent letters, the infamous guttural R, and there being around twelve ways to spell any given sound can make words in French hard to pronounce—but at least it’s consistent. For example, there are specific letter combinations that almost always create the same sound. Once you get used to the rules, you can start to rely on them.

  • Un chateau / Un bateau / Un blaireau / De l’eau
    All of these words end with the same letters AND the same [o] sound.

Sure, if you dig deep enough, you’ll always find some exceptions here and there, but nothing remotely close to the level of inconsistency found in English pronunciation. Just think about how many different sounds are produced using the letter combination “ough.” The answer is eleven.

  • “Cough” / “Though” / “Through” / “Plough”
    And the list goes on.

Check out this video if you’re not convinced yet.

Back to French, there are a few common pronunciation mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. It will take some practice and getting used to, but nothing you can’t handle. 🙂

  • The French guttural [R]
  • Our three infamous nasal sounds
  • The two “ay” sounds, each with countless possible spellings
  • The many traps and snares of silent letters
    → Don’t miss our complete French Pronunciation Guide to learn about these common mistakes, the thirty-six sounds of the French language, and how to produce them all, with lots of examples and study material.
A Woman Getting Her Mouth Checked by a Doctor

Careful not to hurt your tongue speaking French!

4 – Weird Spelling and Twisted Accents

As I mentioned earlier, the French way of spelling words is not exactly straightforward. Each sound can be spelled in several different ways, and we use a set of special characters that don’t exist in English, such as ç, é, ê, and à, just to name a few.

Here’s a list of all the special French characters:

  • Accent aigu: é
  • Accent grave: à, è, ù
  • Accent circonflexe: â, ê, î, ô, û
  • Tréma: ë, ï, ü
  • Cédille: ç

The good news is that out of the twelve possible combinations of accentuated characters (and this is already not an overwhelming number), only a few are commonly used, while the rest are rather marginal. 

On a regular basis, you’ll deal mostly with é, è, ê, and à, and that’s it!

    → If you’re not afraid of the more complex aspects of the language, jump right into our list of the most common mistakes you make while learning French!

3. What are the Best Ways to Get Started?

Have you decided it may not be that hard to learn French, after all? Are you ready to start your language-learning journey, but don’t know where to begin? 

Here’s a brief overview of where you can start and how to make your learning endeavors successful! 

1 – Where to Start?

When learning a new language, your priority should be to learn a tight package of useful words and structures that you can use in as many sentences and situations as possible. 

Quickly learning the core features of the language—such as pronouns, auxiliary verbs, and the most common adjectives—will help you get started with practical tools you can use in almost every sentence. Learning these things early on will also allow you to recognize some important keywords while listening.

For starters, you could check our Top 100 articles and make yourself some flashcards with your personal top twenty verbs, nouns, and adjectives. This will provide you with a solid foundation to play with.

2 – Practice Makes Perfect

There’s no need to stuff yourself with vocabulary if you don’t create the opportunities to use it. I would recommend that you start making sentences from day one, using whatever basic words you’ve learned.

You can start small, with a modest Subject + Verb + Object structure, and then keep building upon it. Simple sentences will serve as a base for countless more complex statements.

For example:

  • Elle aime. (“She loves.”)
  • Elle aime les chats. (“She loves cats.”)
  • Elle aime beaucoup les chats. (“She loves cats a lot.”)
  • Elle aime beaucoup les gros chats. (“She loves fat cats a lot.”)

Every new word is an opportunity to practice your sentence-building skills! Not only will building sentences this way help you remember the word by putting it into context, but you’ll also be practicing French grammar and conjugation at the same time.

Image of a Man Walking a Trail with a Backpack and Map

Learning is a journey, not a destination.

3 – Speak From Day 1

You should take every single opportunity to practice, whether you’re living or traveling in France, or learning from home. In case of the latter, we recommend that you find a teacher or tutor whom you can practice with (perhaps using our MyTeacher program!).

You don’t need many words or a thorough understanding of French grammar to communicate. It’s fine to speak dirty French for a few months, as long as you get to talk. You can always refine your French by learning the grammar later on, but you don’t need any of it to get started.

No native speaker ever learned their language using grammar books. First, we learn by imitation, trials, and errors. Only later can we truly learn about the rules and how they apply to what we already empirically know.

4 – Exposure is Key

Last but not least, I believe exposure is the most important aspect of learning French (or any language, really). Immerse yourself in the language by listening to music or podcasts, watching movies and series, and reading articles or books.

This will help you practice your reading and listening skills, and will also teach you loads of vocabulary. At first, most of this will be passive vocabulary: words you can understand but not use. But as you keep bumping into these words, structures, or expressions, you’ll get to the point where you internalize them and can use them yourself.

If you only learn the language academically, it will always seem cold and abstract. But if you expose yourself to it through thought-provoking articles or entertaining material, it will create emotional connections and help you solidify your knowledge much more effectively than by just repeating exercises.

    → Have a look at our list of the best French series on Netflix, and you’ll find many suggestions for a fun immersion experience into the French culture!

4. Why is FrenchPod101 Great for Learning French?

To summarize, I would say that French is rather easy to learn but hard to master, which makes it fun and interesting in the long run, yet not too frustrating for students. And whether you want to learn the basics or refine your advanced knowledge of the language, FrenchPod101 has a lot to offer.

1 – An Integrated Approach

First of all, we offer an integrated approach. Instead of artificially splitting lessons between reading practice and listening practice, and so on, we blend several skills into every lesson. 

This makes learning French more natural and more effective. You’ll practice your listening skills with podcasts and recordings while reading text materials and completing writing exercises—all in one conveniently tight package.

2 – A Massive Offering of Free Content

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced learner, FrenchPod101 offers a huge depth and breadth of content for all levels. From vocabulary lists to customizable flashcards, you’ll find a variety of free tools that can be tailored to your needs. Some of these resources can even be downloaded and used offline.

After you complete the assessment test, you’ll be directed to the level that matches your needs. From there, you’ll find a wide variety of pathways to follow, depending on the type of French you’re interested in (for casual encounters, professional interactions, romance, etc.).

3 – Premium Personal Coaching

As you go through the lessons on FrenchPod101.com, you’ll practice your reading, listening, and writing skills. Now, if you spice it up with the Premium MyTeacher service, you can also practice speaking and improve your pronunciation thanks to the feedback from your private tutor.

MyTeacher grants you the services of a French teacher to guide you through your journey of mastering the language of Love. You can send your teacher text or audio, get personalized exercises and assignments, and much more. Together, you’ll focus on the areas you need to work on the most and give your studies a serious boost.

A Woman Weightlifting While Being Spotted by a Coach

Flex these brain muscles with your personal coach on MyTeacher!

5. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned about the easiest and most challenging aspects of the French language and why it’s easier than you might think—from a common alphabet to a wealth of shared vocabulary, similar grammar structures, and only a few truly useful tenses.

Did we forget an important aspect of the language you’d like to know about? Do you feel ready to dive right in and start speaking right from the start using whatever few words you know?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as we have plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review new words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice speaking French with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with pronunciation.

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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The Most Common French Mistakes to Avoid as a Learner

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Did you know that even native French speakers make lots of mistakes when using their own language? Some grammatical mistakes are so common that they become the new normal.

Idiomatic expressions such as au temps pour moi have been incorrectly spelled autant pour moi for so many decades that most people don’t even know they’re doing it wrong. And don’t get me started on speakers improperly using the conditional case instead of the indicative. 

My point is that it’s no big deal to make French mistakes, as long as you can express yourself. As you come closer to fluency, you’ll have time to figure out what mistakes you’re still making and how to address them. And this is exactly what this guide is about.

In this article, we’ll list the most common mistakes people make when learning French, as well as some more advanced French mistakes for experienced students. We’ll cover a wide range of categories, from false friends to gender agreement, pronunciation, and word order. By the end of this guide, you should be better able to spot and correct French mistakes, some of which are very easy to fix.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Gender and Agreement
  2. Faux-amis
  3. Conjugation
  4. Word Order
  5. Word Choice
  6. Pronunciation
  7. The Most Embarrassing French Mistakes
  8. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Gender and Agreement

What’s the most common mistake non-native speakers make? Gender agreement, without a doubt!

This is one of those typical French mistakes that allow us to pick out foreign learners, because these are mistakes that natives don’t usually make.

As you probably already know, French nouns—including inanimate objects, ideas, and abstract concepts—are either masculine or feminine.

For example, une chaise (“a chair”) is feminine, while un banc (“a bench”) is masculine.

Why is la route (“the road”) feminine but le trottoir (“the sidewalk”) masculine? It’s just plain arbitrary, but what really matters is: How do you know which gender a noun is?

Feminine endings:
Most words ending in -e or -ion
  • Une mine, une journée, une centaine
  • Une fusion, une addition
Except words ending in -age, -ege, , -isme
Masculine endings:
Words ending in -age, -ege, , -isme
+ Everything else
  • Un bandage, un thé, un séisme
  • Un soleil, un porc, un bain

How can you avoid making gender mistakes? I recommend that you always learn new nouns with their article.

  • Soleil Un soleil, Le soleil (“A sun”)
  • Lune Une lune, La lune (“A moon”)

2. Faux-amis

The origin of the English language is still fiercely debated among linguists, but you’ve probably noticed that there are many French words in English. If you start digging, you’d be surprised how many you can find! Nearly thirty percent of English words could be of French origin.

In a way, this is really convenient when you learn the language, because you can understand lots of words before you even study them:

  • Un prince (“a prince”)
  • Une giraffe (“a giraffe”)
  • Un régime (“a regime”)
  • Une salade (“a salad”)

And the list goes on!

On the other hand, you should be extra careful about “false friends”: Similar words with wildly different meanings. These words might make you really confused when you see the French shopping for pain and poison! 

  • Un pain (“a loaf of bread”)
  • Un poisson (“a fish”)

Want to avoid making inconvenient French word mistakes? Here are some of the trickiest false friends you should keep in mind:

You should not confuse…With…
Actuellement – CurrentlyActually – En fait / Effectivement
Effectivement – Actually / IndeedEffectively – Efficacement
Eventuellement – PossiblyEventually – Finalement
Sensible – SensitiveSensible – Raisonnable / Sensé
Compréhensif UnderstandingComprehensive – Complet
Grave SevereA grave – Une tombe

There are also false friends among verbs!

You should not confuse…With…
Attendre – To waitTo attend – Assister à
Demander – To askTo demand – Exiger
Achever – To complete / To finishTo achieve – Atteindre
Décevoir – To disappointTo deceive – Tromper
Injurier – To insultTo injure – Blesser
Prétendre – To claimTo pretend – Faire semblant
Supplier – To begTo supply – Fournir
Retirer – To withdrawTo retire – Prendre sa retraite
Résumer – To summarizeTo resume – Reprendre
Rester – To stayTo rest – Se reposer


And of course, beware of faux-amis among nouns!

You should not confuse…With…
Le pain – BreadPain – La douleur
Une librairie – A bookshopA library – Une bibliothèque
Un store – A blind / A window shadeA store – Un magasin
Un habit – ClothesA habit – Une habitude
Le hasard – ChanceHazard – Danger
Une fabrique – A factoryFabric – Le tissu
Une issue – An exitAn issue – Un problème
Le pétrole – OilPetrol – L’essence
Une cave – A cellarA cave – Une grotte

Do you want more? Here’s a massive list of the French-English faux-amis.

A Boy about to Punch Another Boy in the Face

Nobody likes false friends!

3. Conjugation

This is another set of mistakes French learners make regularly. Conjugation is not the easiest part of French, and has its fair share of traps. Let’s shed some light on the most common offenders.

1 – Reflexive Verbs

Are you familiar with reflexive verbs? They’re the verbs starting with se:

  • Se lever (“To stand up”)
  • Se souvenir (“To remember”)

For example, to use the verb se dépêcher (“to hurry”), you’d say: Je me dépêche. (“I hurry.”) Literally, this means “I hurry myself.”

Here are some more conjugation examples:

  • Elle s’habille. (“She dresses.” – Literally: “She dresses herself.”)
  • Nous nous asseyons. (“We sit.” – Literally: “We sit ourselves.”)

A common mistake among students of French is to skip the pronoun (me, te, se, nous, vous, se) and directly attach the subject to the verb:

  • Ils dépêchent Ils se dépêchent. (“They hurry.”)
  • Vous habillez Vous vous habillez. (“You dress.”)

Most of the time, it just sounds incorrect. But in some cases, it can mean something different and lead to misunderstandings:

  • Je me lave. (“I wash.”)
  • Je lave. (“I clean.”)

2 – Passé Composé: Être or Avoir?

The passé composé is one of the most useful tenses in spoken French. It’s used to express things that happened in the past and are over now. It’s formed using an auxiliary + a conjugated verb.

PrésentPassé composé
Je pars. (“I leave.”)Je suis parti. (“I have left.”)
Je dors. (“I sleep.”)J’ai dormi. (“I have slept.”)

But wait… In the first example, we formed it using the auxiliary verb être, while in the second example, we used avoir. How do you know which one to choose?

We generally use avoir, except in these two cases:

1) We use être for all reflexive verbs (those starting with se).

For example: se calmer (“to calm down”)

  • Présent: Je me calme. (“I calm down.”)
  • Passé composé: Je me suis calmé. (“I have calmed down.”)

2) We also use être for a few other verbs, mostly those that reflect a change of direction, state, or movement.

Some examples: 

  • venir
  • aller
  • entrer
  • sortir
  • arriver
  • partir
  • tomber
  • monter
  • rester
  • retourner
  • descendre
  • passer


4. Word Order

Many common French language mistakes have to do with using the incorrect word order. Here are a few of the errors you should watch out for: 

1 – Misplacing Adjectives

French adjectives can be placed before or after the noun they describe, and a common mistake is to place them on the wrong side of the noun. 

The majority of French adjectives are placed AFTER the noun:

  • Une maison bleue (“A blue house”)
  • Un objet bizarre (“A strange object”)

However, some of the most common French adjectives are placed BEFORE the noun:

  • Une grande maison (“A big house”)
  • Un bel object (“A beautiful object”)

In most cases, if you misplace an adjective, the sentence will simply sound “off.” But it can also create confusion in situations where an adjective’s position changes its meaning: 

  • Un ancien hôpital (“A former hospital”)
  • Un hôpital ancien (“An ancient hospital”)


2 – Inverting the Verb and Subject When Speaking

Do you know how academic teaching and old-school grammar books keep promoting a weird vintage style that makes you sound like a dusty vinyl? The kind of teaching program that makes you say “Excuse me sir, would you please be so kind so as to fetch me the check, please?” when locals just say “Check please.”

In French, we have various ways to ask questions. One for oral interactions, one for writing only, and one for both. The written form consists of inverting the verb and pronoun, as in:

  • Voulez-vous du café ? (“Do you want coffee?”)
  • As-tu bien dormi ? (“Did you sleep well?”)

Sadly, many French teachers keep promoting this form without warning their students that they’ll often sound awkward if they use it in oral conversations. The following lines sound much more natural:

  • Vous voulez du café ? (This is just as polite, as it also uses the formal vous.)
  • Tu as bien dormi ?

    → Do you want to know more about questions? Check out our complete guide on the most useful French questions and how to answer them!

A Butler Carrying a Tray with Flowers and Dishes

Only if you dress like this guy, should you invert verbs and subjects.

3 – Misplacing Pronouns

To keep it simple, let’s just say that French pronouns have the unpleasant habit of moving around the sentence instead of sticking to the position of what they’re replacing.

  • David mange cette pomme. (“David is eating this apple.”)
  • David la mange. (“David is eating it.”)
  • David parle aux voisins. (“David is talking with the neighbors.”)
  • David leur parle. (“David is talking to them.”)

It gets pretty rough when you have multiple pronouns in one sentence. They all need to be in the right place, otherwise the sentence will make no sense.

  • Sophie donne une pomme à David. (“Sophie gives an apple to David.”)
  • Elle la lui donne. (“She gives it to him.”)
  • Elle lui donne la.
  • Elle lui la donne.

    → The placement of pronouns is a very complicated topic, so I won’t go too far into the specifics. But feel free to dive into our comprehensive guide on French pronouns on FrenchPod101.com.

5. Word Choice

As you get more and more comfortable with the language, picking the right word for any situation is what will get you from mastery to fluency.

1 – Jour vs. Journée

Here, it’s a matter of time unit versus duration.

In a nutshell, we use jour when we’re talking about a specific moment or counting the days:

  • C’est le jour de Noël. (“It is Christmas day.”)
  • Je t’appellerai dans deux jours. (“I’ll call you in two days.”)

And we use journée when we’re talking about a duration of time:

  • J’ai dormi toute la journée. (“I’ve slept all day.”)
  • C’est une très belle journée. (“It’s a very beautiful day.”)

This same rule of thumb applies to An / Année, Matin / Matinée, and Soir / Soirée.

2 – Pour vs. Par

Many learners confuse pour and par, and for good reasons! It’s not always easy to pick the right one, so let’s summarize what each one is used for:

► POUR

  • Intention: C’est pour toi. (“It is for you.”)
  • Destination: Nous partons pour le Canada. (“We’re leaving for Canada.”)
  • Duration: Nous partons pour deux semaines. (“We’re leaving for two weeks.”)
    Here, we could also say: Nous partons pendant deux semaines.
  • Instead of: Je paye pour toi. (“I’m paying for you.”)
  • Percent: Dix pour cent. (“Ten percent.”)

In most cases, if you’re translating a sentence using “for,” you should probably use pour:

  • Merci pour ton aide. (“Thank you for your help.”)
  • Merci de m’aider. (“Thank you for helping me.”)

► PAR

  • During: Ne sortez pas par ce temps. (“Don’t go out with that weather.”)
  • To start/end with: Je commence par toi. (“I’m starting with you.”)
  • Frequency: Trois fois par mois. (“Three times a year.”)
  • Distribution: Deux cookies par personne. (“Two cookies per person.”)

In many cases, you’d translate “by” as par:

  • Je le prend par la main. (“I take him by the hand.”)
  • Par hasard (“By change”)
A Group of Coworkers Having Champagne at a New Year’s Party

Nothing like an awkward party on New Year’s Day! (Le jour de l’an)

3 – Y vs. EN

Ready for more pronouns? There are two that just keep confusing students!

Y

Y is used to replace: 

  • à [quelque chose] (“to [something]” / “about [something]”) 
  • en [quelque chose] (“in [something]”)

This [something] is often a place, but not always, as long as it’s inanimate.

  • Je veux aller à Paris. (“I want to go to Paris.”)
    = Je veux y aller. (“I want to go there.”)
  • Je pense à mon avenir. (“I’m thinking about my future.”)
    = J’y pense. (“I’m thinking about it.”)
  • Je crois en la science. (“I believe in science.”)
    = J’y crois. (“I believe in it.”)

EN

En is used to replace de(s) ____ (“some ____” / “of ____”)

You’ll see it a lot when talking about quantities.

  • J’ai une pomme. (“I have an apple.”)
    = J’en ai une. (“I have one.”)
  • J’ai deux frères. (“I have two brothers.”)
    = J’en ai deux. (“I have two of them.”)
  • J’ai beaucoup de cheveux. (“I have lots of hair.”)
    = J’en ai beaucoup. (“I have a lot of it.”)
  • Il a du temps. (“He has time.”)
    = Il en a. (“He has some.”)

4 – C’est vs. Il est

C’EST

To identify a thing or a person, we use c’est (or the plural ce sont) + noun.

  • C’est un livre. (“That’s a book.”)
  • Ce sont des amis. (“These are friends.”)
  • C’est un cousin. (“He’s a cousin.”)
  • C’est Sophie, ma voisine. (“This is Sophie, my neighbor.”)

IL EST

To describe a thing or a person, we use il est / elle est (ils sont / elles sont in plural) + adjective or profession.

  • C’est un livre. Il est cher. (“This is a book. It’s expensive.”)
  • Ce sont des livres. Ils sont chers. (“These are books. They are expensive.”)
  • C’est un bon ami. Il est très gentil. (“This is a good friend. He’s really nice.”)
  • C’est Sophie. Elle est belge. Elle est professeur. (“This is Sophie. She’s from Belgium. She’s a teacher.”)

5 – Connaître vs. Savoir

Connaître is about knowledge, and it refers to being acquainted with a place or a person:

  • Je connais cet endroit. (“I know this place.”)
  • Je connais cette personne. (“I know this person.”)
  • Je connais cette théorie. (“I know this theory.”)

Savoir is more like “to know (a fact),” such as things you know by heart or abilities:

  • Je sais que tu es là. (“I know that you’re here.”)
  • Je ne sais pas ce que je fais. (“I don’t know what I’m doing.”)
  • Je sais danser. (“I know how to dance.”)
Matrix

Je connais le Kung Fu. (“I know Kung Fu.”)

6. Pronunciation

French is full of challenging sounds for foreign students, such as the French guttural [R], the [U], and a collection of difficult nasal sounds. However, these are not what I would call the trickiest aspects of French. They just take time and practice to master.

For now, I’ll focus on three seemingly trivial things that I’ve seen many students struggle with: the final silent letters, the liaisons, and the French words for “more” and “not anymore.” These are some of the most common French pronunciation mistakes, so you should definitely pay attention here.

1 – Final Letters

French words often end with consonants. Some are silent, others are not, and it’s hard to predict whether you should pronounce them or not.

Let’s talk about the CaReFuL letters.

If a French word ends with C, R, F, or L (consonants from the word CaReFuL), the final letter is usually pronounced. Otherwise, the final letter is silent. This rule is not without exceptions, but when in doubt, you can rely on this trick.

Here are some examples of words where the final letter is pronounced:

  • Un truc (“A thing”)
  • Un dortoir (“A dormitory”)
  • Le chef (“The boss”)
  • Avril (“April”)

There’s one big exception to the CaReFuL rule: verbs ending with the letters “ER” have a silent R:

  • Aimer (“To love”)
  • Manger (“To eat”)
  • Tuer (“To kill”)

All other consonant letters are usually not pronounced:

  • Froid (“Cold”)
  • Le poing (“The fist”)
  • Un coup (“A hit”)
  • Le marais (“The swamp”)

2 – The Art of Liaison

When one word ends with a consonant and the next starts with a vowel sound (but not necessarily a vowel), we sometimes do what we call a liaison (linking). This link between two words is what makes the sentence “flow.”

  • Vous avez (“You have”) is pronounced [vou zavé]
  • Ils ont (“They have”) is pronounced [il zon]
  • Les enfants (From the letter S to the sound [en], we do the liaison)
  • Les hommes (Hommes starts with a consonant but with a vowel sound, so we do the liaison)

And sometimes, you don’t make the liaison, as in:

  • Les chiens ont aboyé. (“The dogs have barked.”)
    We don’t make the first liaison between chiens and ont. However, you link ont and aboyé. It’s pronounced : [Lé chien on taboyé].
  • David et Alain (“David and Alain”)
    There is never a liaison with et.

→ Everything you need to know about silent letters, liaison, and more, is explained in all its detailed glory in our Full Guide on French Pronunciation!

A Woman Examining Lipstick Marks on a Man’s Shirt

Il a une liaison. (“He’s having an affair.”)

3 – Plus vs. Plus

Depending on the context, plus means either “more” or “not anymore.”

You generally pronounce the S when it has a positive meaning (more):

  • J’ai besoin de plus de temps. (“I need more time.”)
  • J’en veux toujours plus. (“I always want more.”)
  • Servez-nous plus de vin. (“Serve us more wine.”)

And you don’t pronounce the S when it has a negative meaning (not anymore):

  • Je n’en peux plus. (“I can’t take it anymore.”)
  • Je ne veux plus dormir. (“I don’t want to sleep anymore.”)
  • Il n’est plus là. (“He’s not here anymore.”)

With some exceptions! (It wouldn’t be French, otherwise.)

1) When positive plus is directly followed by an adjective that starts with a consonant sound, the S is not pronounced:

  • C’est plus drôle. (“It’s more fun.”)
  • C’est plus fort. (“It’s stronger.”)

2) When positive plus is directly followed by an adjective that starts with a vowel sound, the S is pronounced like a [Z]:

  • Elle est plus intelligente. (“She’s more intelligent.”)
  • C’est plus intéressant. (“It’s more interesting.”)

7. The Most Embarrassing French Mistakes

To finish on a lighter note, here are some of the worst cases of mistranslation that could put you in a shameful situation. Save yourself the embarrassment and try to remember them!

You should not confuse…With…
She’s good. – Elle est douée.Elle est bonne. – She’s really hot.
Literally, “good” translates to bonne in the feminine form.

However, French is full of graphic slang and bonne, in the specific context of describing a woman, actually means “hot,” but in a much more sexual way than its English equivalent.

As a result, if you hear your friend’s sister playing the violin and want to say that she’s really skilled, don’t say: Ta soeur est vraiment bonne ! (“Your sister is hot as hell!”)

You should not confuse…With…
I envy you. Je t’envie.J’ai envie de toi. – I want you.
“To envy” simply translates to envier.

However, “to want” translates to avoir envie de.

The difference is as subtle as it is important!

If your friend is showing you his new shirt, describing how nice and cozy it feels, and you comment with J’ai envie de toi, your relationship might take an unexpected turn.

You should not confuse…With…
Preservative ConservateurPréservatif – Condom
This is a prime example of faux-ami, lurking in the dark, waiting to put you in embarrassing situations!

When having dinner with your French hosts, you should probably NOT say: 

Dans mon pays, on met beaucoup de préservatifs dans la nourriture. (“In my country, we put lots of condoms in the food.”)

One Woman Looking in Confusion at Another Woman, Who’s Covering Her Mouth

Wait, what did you just say?

8. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about the most frequent mistakes in French, from common word misplacement to pronunciation, conjugation, and more advanced French mistakes. Did I forget any important topic that you’d like to read about?

It’s no use trying to remember it all, but if you read this article once in a while, try to keep as many as you can in a corner of your mind. Try to spot the mistakes you keep making, so you can work on them prioritarily. Just take it at your own pace. =)

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources to boost your studies and keep your French-learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Your private teacher can help you correct these common mistakes (and more) using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples. Your teacher can review your own recordings as well, to help you improve your pronunciation.  

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

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A Complete Guide on Questions in French & How to Answer Them

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Just imagine: You’re going out with a group of native French-speakers. This is the perfect opportunity to make friends and practice your French in a real-life situation! But how do you break the ice? What should you say if you run out of topics, or if your French isn’t solid enough to fuel the conversation?

The universal answer is: ask questions! Among countless benefits, being able to ask questions in French will help you avoid awkward silences by keeping the conversation going. It will also make the other person feel like you want to know more about them or value their opinion, thus making you more likeable. Asking questions you’re genuinely interested in opens a world of new information and cultural insight! 

Another perk is that you don’t have to talk too much; just sit back and listen. Don’t think about your next question or how to steer the conversation back toward yourself. Just enjoy the ride and dive into whatever the other person has to say.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything about asking questions in French, from the question words to a collection of common topics with comprehensive examples. By the end of this article, you’ll not only know how to ask questions in French, but also how to answer them!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Golden Rules of French Questions
  2. The 8 Most Common Question Topics
  3. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Golden Rules of French Questions

A Meal with Friends

Insightful answers can take you a long way!

In our daily lives, we have plenty of opportunities to ask questions, all day long: “Can I have a coffee?” / “At what time is that meeting, again?” / “What’s up, Sophie?” / “Is that seat taken?” / “How much is that product?”

We don’t even think about it, but a hefty portion of our social interactions is based on questions and answers—and this portion grows out of proportion as a foreigner in a strange land, where you need to learn the rules and make sense of unusual things.

Before we go any further, let’s look at the basic rules of how to formulate questions in French.

1 – The 3 French Question Patterns

We’ll start with this simple declarative sentence:

  • Tu parles Français. (“You speak French.”)

Here are the three ways you can turn it into “Do you speak French?”

1. Parles-tu Français ?
This is mostly for written French, and it’s unlikely that you’ll hear it in spoken conversations. We simply invert the verb and the pronoun. This pattern only works with pronouns.

2. Est-ce que tu parles Français ?
This works fine in speaking or writing, making it the most polyvalent of the three forms. Est-ce que literally means “Is it that.” So, our sentence would translate to: “Is it that you speak French?”

3. Tu parles Français ?
This is the casual spoken form that you’ll rarely see in writing, and it’s super-easy to form. This is the exact same sentence as the declaration; we simply change the intonation (the pitch goes up at the end).


2 – French Question Words

When? / Where? / How? / Why? / How much? / How many? / What?

Let’s have a look at how these questions look in French!

In this table, I will put all possible question forms, but you can usually use any of the three structures.

Quand
(“When”)
Quand mangeons nous ?
Quand est-ce qu’on mange ?
On mange quand ?
(“When are we eating?”)

(“Where”)
Tu vas où ?
(“Where are you going?”)
Comment
(“How”)
Comment ça marche ?
(“How does it work?”)
Pourquoi
(“Why”)
Pourquoi est-ce qu’il fait ça ?
(“Why is he doing this?”)
Combien
(“How many,” “How much”)
Combien ça coûte ?
(“How much is it?”)
QueQu’Quoi
(“What”)
Que fais-tu ?
Qu’est-ce que tu fais ?
Tu fais quoi ?
(“What are you doing?”)


A Man Looking a Blueprint

Comment ça marche ? (“How does it work?”)

2. The 8 Most Common Question Topics

There’s such a wide range of basic French questions and answers that it would be impossible to list them all. But in this section, we’ll go through the most typical questions that you might be asked or want to ask your French pals. 

For each topic, you’ll find examples of possible answers so that you can start imagining how you would deal with it yourself. A good exercise is to try and come up with answers of your own, using the vocabulary and structures you’ll learn today.

First Encounter

1 – Personal Information

The French usually don’t go too far with intimate questions when meeting someone for the first time. Questions about marital status, for instance, could be deemed a bit too personal for a first encounter. 

That said, here are a few questions you can’t go wrong with:

How old are you?

  • Vous avez quel âge ?
  • Tu as quel âge ?

    J’ai 32 ans. (“I’m 32.”)

There’s no strict rule about it, but it’s commonly accepted in French etiquette that it’s a bit rude to ask a woman her age, just like you shouldn’t ask about her weight. It may not apply when the other person has no reason to feel insecure about it, but when in doubt, you’d better not ask.

The difference between the casual tu and formal vous is pretty much straightforward.

What’s your name?

  • Comment tu t’appelles ? [Casual]
  • Tu t’appelles comment ? [Casual]
  • Comment vous appelez-vous ? [Formal]
    Je m’appelle Sophie. (“My name is Sophie.”)

Do you have brothers and sisters?

  • Vous avez des frères et soeurs ?
  • Tu as des frères et soeurs ?
    J’ai un frère et deux soeurs. (“I have a brother and two sisters.”)
    J’ai une grande soeur et un petit frère. (“I have a big sister and a little brother.”)
Twin Sisters

J’ai une soeur jumelle. (“I have a twin sister.”)


2 – Where are You From?

Being a foreigner in France, you’ll often be met with this question. Some people might try to guess, and some will just ask you; it’s bound to spark some interest and follow-up questions.

Asking this question to a French native while in France also works. They’ll answer about their hometown or region, and you may learn about interesting local traditions or exciting dishes!

Where are you from?

  • Vous venez d’où ?
  • Tu viens d’où ?
  • Tu es d’où ?
  • Tu es de quelle nationalité ?

    Foreign answers
    Je suis Japonais. (“I’m Japanese.”) [Male]
    Je suis Japonaise. (“I’m Japanese.”) [Female]
    Je viens du Japon. (“I’m from Japan.”)

    Local answers
    Je viens de Paris. (“I’m from Paris.”)
    Je suis Parisienne. (“I’m a Parisian.”) [Female]
    Je viens d’Alsace. (“I’m from the Alsace region.”)

What country are you from? 

  • De quel pays venez-vous ?
  • Tu viens de quel pays ?
    Je suis Russe. (“I’m Russian.”)
    Je viens de Russie. (“I’m from Russia.”)

What city are you from? 

  • De quelle ville venez-vous ?
  • Tu viens de quelle ville ?
  • Tu habites dans quelle ville ? (“In what city are you living?”)
    Je suis de Toulouse. (“I’m from Toulouse.”)
    Je suis Toulousain. (“I’m a Toulousian.”)
    Je viens de Tokyo. (“I’m from Tokyo.”)
    J’habite à Niigata. (“I’m living in Niigata.”)

Where is it?

  • Où est-ce que ça se trouve ? (“Where is it located?”)
  • C’est où ? (“Where is it?”)
  • C’est par où ? (“Where about is that?”)
  • C’est dans quel coin ? (Literally: “In what corner is that?”)
    C’est sur la côte ouest. (“It’s on the West coast.”)
    C’est à côté de Londres. (“It’s near London.”)
    C’est près de la frontière Canadienne. (“It’s close to the Canadian border.”)
Children with Different Races

Tu viens d’où ? (“Where are you from?”)


Introducing Yourself

3 – Do You Speak ___?

Another foreigner-friendly topic. You may want to ask if the other person speaks English, just as you might be asked whether you speak French or not. This question can lead to a few potential follow-ups on studies, travels, and levels of proficiency.

Do you speak [Language]? 

  • Vous parlez Français ? (“Do you speak French?”)
  • Est-ce que tu parles Anglais ? (“Do you speak English?”)
    Je parle un peu Français. (“I speak a bit of French.”)
    Je parle Anglais couramment. (“I speak English fluently.”)
    Comme ci comme ça. (“So-so.”)
    J’ai des rudiments de Japonais. (“I have Japanese basics.”)

How long have you been studying French?

  • Vous étudiez le Français depuis combien de temps ?
  • Tu étudies le Français depuis combien de temps ?
    J’ai étudié 2 ans à l’université. (“I studied for two years at the university.”)
    J’ai commencé il y a 6 mois. (“I started six months ago.”)

What languages do you speak?

  • Quelles langues parlez-vous ?
  • Tu parles quelles langues ?
  • Tu parles quelles autres langues ? (“What other languages do you speak?”)
    Je parle Espagnol, Polonais et Roumain. (“I speak Spanish, Polish, and Romanian.”)
    Je parle juste Anglais et un peu Français. (“I only speak English and a bit of French.”)

4 – Concerning Hobbies

The French are about working hard but partying harder, and we tend to think that our hobbies define us more than our jobs. As a result, you may be asked about your tastes and favorite artists early in a conversation. 

Asking these kinds of questions is a great way to show your interest in the other person and find common ground through shared interests. Following are some ways to ask and answer this type of question in French.

What are your hobbies? 

  • Quels sont vos loisirs ? 
  • Tu as quoi comme hobbies ?
  • Quel est ton passe-temps préféré ? (“What’s your favorite pastime?”)
  • Tu fais quoi pendant ton temps libre ? (“What do you do in your free time?”)
    J’aime aller au cinéma. (“I like going to the cinema.”)
    J’adore les jeux vidéos. (“I love video games.”)
    Je fais de la photo et du montage vidéo. (“I do photography and video editing.”)

Do you do sports? 

  • Vous faites du sport ?
  • Tu fais du sport ?
  • Tu fais quoi comme sport ? (“What sports are you doing?”)
    Je fais de l’escalade et de la plongée. (“I do climbing and diving.”)
    Je joue au Tennis. (“I play tennis.”)

What kind of [entertainment / art] do you like? 

  • Quel genre de film aimez-vous ? (“What kind of movies do you like?”)
  • Tu écoutes quel genre de musique ? (“What kind of music do you listen to?”)
  • Quel est ton acteur préféré ? (“Who’s your favorite actor?”)
    J’aime les films d’horreur. (“I love horror movies.”)
    J’écoute surtout du Blues et de la Deep House. (“I listen mostly to Blues and Deep House.”)
    Mon acteur préféré est Mads Mikkelsen. (“My favorite actor is Mads Mikkelsen.”)
A Man Painting

J’aime la peinture. (“I love painting.”)

    → You’ll find many more words to talk about your hobbies on our free vocabulary list, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation.

5 – Let’s Talk Business

Even though we try to find a healthy balance between work and personal life, our professional dealings still take up an important part of our lives (and many hours during the week). As a result, don’t be surprised if it comes up early in a conversation when meeting strangers.

The French love to complain about their jobs: how they’re working too much for an insufficient salary, how their boss is a jerk and their company is a frustrating disarray. Please, don’t hold it against them!

What is your profession?

  • Dans quoi travaillez-vous ? (“In what field are you working?”)
  • Tu bosses dans quoi ? (“What’s your job?”)
  • Tu fais quoi ? (“What do you do?”)
  • Tu fais quoi dans la vie ? (“What do you do?” but literally “What do you do in life?”)

This last one sounds a bit silly and people use it with a smile, but it’s a great way to make sure your question is understood. 

If you’re in a bar and you just say Tu fais quoi ? the other person could be caught off guard and answer “Nothing, why?” or “Huh…drinking a beer?”

    Je suis programmeur. (“I’m a programmer.”)
    Je bosse dans l’informatique. (“I work in IT.”)
    Je travaille dans l’aviation. (“I work in aviation.”)
    Je travaille à Decathlon. (“I work at Decathlon.”)

What do you study?

  • Vous faites des études dans quel domaine ? (“In what field are you studying?”)
  • Tu étudies quoi ? (“What are you studying?”)
  • Tu étudies où ? (“Where are you studying?”)
  • Tu apprends quoi ? (“What are you learning?”)
    Je fais des études en sociologie. (“I study sociology.”)
    J’étudie le droit international. (“I study international law.”)
    J’étudie à l’université de la Sorbonne. (“I study at the Sorbonne University.”)
A Woman Solving Mathematics Problem

J’étudie les mathématiques. (“I study mathematics.”)

    → You don’t know how to talk about your profession in French? Stop by our free vocabulary list on Jobs.

6 – Do You Like ___?

What better way to get to know someone than to find out what they like and dislike?

As a visitor, you may get the regular questions on how you appreciate the country or city you’re visiting, but you can use the same structure with any topic, from trivial to intimate!

In France, it’s usually fine to say when you don’t like something. Obviously, out of respect for your hosts, you might want to refrain from throwing mud at what they offer, but overall, compared to other countries, we can be rather blunt when expressing our opinion.

How do you like this place? 

  • Comment trouvez-vous Paris ? (“How do you like Paris?”)
  • Comment tu trouves Toulouse ? (“How do you like Toulouse?”)
  • Tu aimes Paris ? (“Do you like Paris?”)
  • Tu te plais en France ? (“Do you enjoy France?”)
    Oui, j’adore Paris. (“Yes, I love Paris.”)
    Oui, mais c’est un peu bruyant. (“Yes, but it’s a bit noisy.”)
    C’est pas mal. (“It’s not bad.”)
    Non, pas trop. (“No, not so much.”)

Do you like that thing? 

  • Vous aimez la cuisine Française ? (“Do you like French cuisine?”)
  • Est-ce que tu aimes le vin rouge ? (“Do you like red wine?”)
  • Tu aimes les films avec des gladiateurs ? (“Do you like Gladiator movies?”)
  • Est-ce que tu aimes la musique Française ? (“Do you like French music?”)
    (It’s okay, you don’t have to say yes. I understand!)
    Oui, j’aime beaucoup ! (“Yes, I like it a lot!”)
    Non, je n’aime pas trop. (“No, I don’t really like it.”)
    Non, je déteste ça. (“No, I hate it.”)
    Oui, ça dépend. (“Yes, it depends.”)
    (The perfect vague, non-committal answer to get yourself out of trouble!)

7 – Have You Been There?

Other basic French questions to a traveler, visitor, or expat are those about where you’ve been. When people have been to exotic places, they’re usually eager to talk about it and discuss landscapes, climates, and customs. It’s an interesting and safe topic for when you want to know more about someone’s past adventures.

Have you been to this place? 

  • Êtes-vous allé à Lyon ? (“Have you been to Lyon?”)
  • Tu es déjà allé en Ecosse ? (“Have you ever been to Scotland?”)
  • Tu as voyagé en Amérique du sud ? (“Have you traveled to South America?”)
    Oui, je connais bien. (“Yes, I know it well.”)
    J’y suis allé l’année dernière. (“I went there last year.”)
    J’y suis allé il y a longtemps (“I went there a long time ago.”)
    Non, je n’y suis jamais allé. (“No, I’ve never been there.”)

Have you visited this place?

  • Tu as visité le musée du Louvre ? (“Did you visit the Louvre museum?”)
  • Tu connais le pont de l’Alma ? (“Do you know the Alma Bridge?”)
  • Tu es déjà allé sur les quais de Bercy ? (“Have you ever been to the docks of Bercy?”)
    Oui, j’y suis allé une ou deux fois. (“Yes, I have been there a couple of times.”)
    Non, pas encore. (“No, not yet.”)
    Je ne suis pas sûr. (“I’m not sure.”)

8 – How Much? 

The final set of basic questions and answers in French you’ll for-sure need are those about costs and prices.

How much is it?

  • Combien ça coûte ? (“How much does it cost?”)
  • C’est combien ? (“How much is it?”)
  • Je vous dois combien ? (“How much do I owe you?”)
    12 euros, s’il vous plait. (“12€ please.”)
    5 euros, s’il te plait. (“5€ please.”)

How much is this? 

  • La pinte est à combien ? (“How much is a pint?”)
  • Celui-ci coûte combien ? (“How much is this one?”)
  • Vous le faites à combien ? (“How much do you ask for this?”)
    Une pour 8€, deux pour 15. (“One is 8€, two for 15.”)
    Ça fait 20€, s’il vous plait. (“It will be 20€, please.”)

Man Calculating on Something

Combien ça coûte ? (“How much is it?”)

Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned the bread and butter of asking questions in French, from the question words to the most common topics, with plenty of examples.

Did we forget any important topic you’d like to learn about? Do you feel ready to get out there and express yourself, using everything you’ve learned today?

A good way to practice is to take each of the questions we’ve covered today and imagine how you would answer them. Maybe you’ll need to do some research on the sentence structures or key words, but it will be a great way to learn how to talk about yourself. 

Learning how to talk about personal topics is always worth the time, as you can use this knowledge in any occasion, with your friends or people you’ve just met.

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also useful for revisiting new words and practicing their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice questions and answers in French with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with the pronunciation.

Happy learning!

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Our 2020 Guide on the DELF French Proficiency Test

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What is DALF? Does it have anything to do with the alien-friendly 80s sitcom? And what about DELF? Are we talking engine oil and car lubricants? I’m sorry to disappoint, but we’re only referring to the most important French Proficiency tests on the market.

In this article, I’ll explain everything about the DELF & DALF language proficiency exams: what they are, how to sign up, and why you should care. You’ll also learn all the details about the six possible DALF/DELF French exam levels and how to identify yours. 

Finally, you’ll have an in-depth look at the structure and content of all four sections of the exam, and more importantly, the best techniques to practice and pass the test yourself!

A Student Glad He Got an A+ on a Test

Ace your DELF or DALF with our collection of pro-tips.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in French Table of Contents
  1. What are DELF and DALF?
  2. A Test for Every Level
  3. How to Succeed at DELF B2
  4. Le Mot De La Fin

1. What are DELF and DALF?

DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) and DALF (Diplôme approfondi de langue française) are the two official degrees that certify various levels of proficiency in the French language. 

They’re issued by the French Ministère de l’éducation nationale (“Ministry of Education”), valid for life, and recognized worldwide, making them the best choices for validating your French proficiency.

There are six levels of DELF and DALF, ranging from A1 to C2. If you’re not yet at an A1 level, there’s another exam called DILF (Diplôme initial de langue française). Find more details about it right here.

Why Take the Exam?

There are many possible reasons why you’d want to pass a DELF or DALF:

  • To get into a renowned French school or university
  • To find a job in France
  • To apply for a French residence permit
  • To request French citizenship
  • To get a French training approved within the framework of the CPF, or Compte personnel de formation (“Personal training account”)

Maybe you’ve just spent the last six months studying hard on FrenchPod101.com and want to show the world the extent of your skills.

In that case, DELF might be too much trouble and I’d rather recommend that you take one of our free language portfolio tests. If you’re a Premium PLUS subscriber, just ask your teacher about it and they’ll get you started in no time!

What Do They Look Like?

Depending on the level you’re taking, the DELF and DALF exams can be wildly different. However, each exam consists of four distinct sections:

  1. Compréhension de l’oral (Listening test)
  2. Compréhension des écrits (Reading test)
  3. Production écrite (Writing test)
  4. Production orale (Speaking test)

Each section is timed and will put your linguistic skills to the test!

You can find detailed information on the examination on the official website of France Education (that you may have seen referred to as CIEP in older articles).

How to Sign Up?

There are many testing centers around the world, and you can usually sign up online. Some of these centers are from the group Alliance Française and also provide specific training for the test, but it’s rather expensive and NOT mandatory.

However, whether you pay for extra training or not, there will be a registration fee to take the exam. Prices vary depending on the center and level, but you can expect it to be in the range of $200.

You can find all approved examination centers outside of France on this official page. It includes contact numbers and email addresses for you, as well.

A Group of Students Testing in a Dark Classroom

The first three parts of the test are collective, and the oral exam is individual.

2. A Test for Every Level

Before you can choose the right test for your level, you need to be familiar with the CECRL system (Cadre Européen de référence pour les langues). This classification allows you to define your proficiency level in a foreign language, from A1 for beginners to C2 for experts.

LevelDescriptionYou can:
A1

DELF A1
BeginnerUnderstand and use typical everyday expressions and simple statements about practical needs
Introduce yourself to someone
Ask questions about someone and answer similar types of questions
Have very basic conversations if the other person is talking slowly and deliberately articulating
A2

DELF A2
Lower-intermediateUnderstand isolated sentences and frequently used expressions from familiar daily situations (personal information, family, shopping, or work interactions)
Communicate about common and simple tasks when they don’t require sharing too much information or unfamiliar topics

Describe your current environment and express immediate needs
B1

DELF B1
IntermediateUnderstand the main topics of a conversation in plain language, when it’s about familiar things (work, school, hobbies)
Handle most daily interactions when traveling in a French-speaking country

Produce simple texts on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
Tell about events, experiences, or dreams, describe a hope or goal, and briefly explain a project or an idea
B2

DELF B2
Upper-intermediateUnderstand the main ideas within a complex text on concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialization
Communicate spontaneously and effortlessly with a native speaker
Express yourself in a clear and detailed manner on a wide range of subjects and explain a point of view on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options
C1

DALF C1
AdvancedUnderstand long and demanding texts and their implicit meaning
Talk spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much
Use the language in an efficient and flexible manner at home, work, or school
Express your opinion on complex topics in a clear and structured manner, having full control over the linguistic tools for organizing and articulating your speech
C2

DALF C2
ProficientUnderstand effortlessly anything you read or hear
Summarize facts and arguments from various sources, written or spoken
Express yourself spontaneously, very clearly, and fluently, and highlight slight nuances in meaning when talking about complex topics
Language Skills

3. How to Succeed at DELF B2

In this section, we’ll mainly focus on the B2 DELF tests. This will allow you to get an in-depth look at one level, rather than a vague overview of all possible exams.

Why B2? Because this is the most common level they ask for when you’re looking for a job, and the minimum you should have when applying for a French university or school.

However, keep in mind that the structure, if not the timings, remains the same for all levels. Similarly, the Pro-Tips and How to Practice sections apply to most levels of DELF or DALF. Here’s the information you’ll need for your French DELF exam preparation:

1 – The Listening Test

Duration: 30 minutes, three exercises for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll listen to two recorded documents. They can be conversations, interviews, news broadcasts, conferences, or recordings from the radio or TV shows.

  • Before listening to the first document, you’ll have one minute to read the questions. Then, you’ll hear the document one single time (around two minutes). At the end of the recording, you have three minutes to answer the questions.
  • Before listening to the second document, you’ll have one minute to read the questions. Then, you will hear the document for the first time (up to six minutes) and you’ll have three minutes to start answering the questions. Finally, you’ll hear the document for the second time and you’ll have five minutes to complete your answers.

Pro-Tips

  • Make the most of the short time you’re given to read the questions. In the heat of the moment, this one minute feels like seconds. But knowing the questions in advance will help you focus on the specific information you have to extract from the recordings.
  • Don’t get tricked and stay very alert. Don’t jump to conclusions too fast. The French DELF B2 exam is rather advanced, and appearances can be deceiving. If you hear the exact words of a question in the recording, it’s probably a trap and you should be careful about what’s really being said.
  • Don’t worry about writing in flawless French, as long as you’re clear and accurate. The most important part of this text is to prove you’re a good listener, not a good writer.

How to Practice

  • You should ideally practice a few minutes every day, with French radio, TV, movies, series, or directly with native speakers if you have this luxury. Podcasts can also be a good idea!
  • Any listening exercise on FrenchPod101.com can be valuable practice to sharpen your ear.
  • Check online for examples of DELF recordings, starting with the website of France Education International, the official DELF ministry.
A Man Jamming Out to Music with Headphones

When you come well-prepared for your listening exam!

2 – The Reading Test 

Duration: around 1 hour, two to three exercises for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll be given two written documents along with questions to test your comprehension. You have one hour in total to read the texts and answer all the questions.

  • The first document will be informational, such as a news article or an essay about an aspect of French culture or values.
  • The second document will be an opinion article on a controversial topic.

Pro-Tips

  • Read the text very carefully before reading the questions, so you can get a first impression without any bias. Then quickly write down the main topics and ideas.
  • Only then, read the questions and make sure you understand them perfectly before you read the text once again in this new light.
  • Finally, answer the questions in the suggested order, always asking yourself why you’re answering that way (and not differently).
  • It’s important that you keep coming back to the text to question your answers and make sure you’re still on track.
  • Answer the question fully but concisely. You shouldn’t need more than a couple of sentences to prove your comprehension of the texts.
  • Stay alert and be prepared for multi-part questions or word play. Some idiomatic expressions might trick you into answering the wrong question.

How to Practice

  • It’s important that you practice by reading a wide variety of material, from blogs to newspaper articles, essays, or novels.
  • Reading about politics, movie reviews, or heated internet debates are some ways to prepare yourself for the second text.
  • Read some actual DELF tests to get a good idea of what to expect in terms of length and difficulty. You can find some French DELF B2 exam sample papers and more resources on the official website.
A Woman Reading a Book on a Bus

You can always find a minute to read some French!

3 – The Writing Test

Duration: around 1 hour, one writing exercise for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll have to take a stand on a controversial topic. You can be asked to support a given topic, or to write against it, and justify your opinion. Your text will be based either on a short text, letter, or article, or just a few sentences describing the situation and what you need to write.

You have one hour to write your text with a minimum of 250 words.

Pro-Tips

  • Make sure you’ve read the instructions very carefully and understand them fully.
  • Remember that you’re not likely to be asked for your opinion, but rather to take a stand following some specific guidelines. For example: Write a letter explaining that you hate chocolate and why it should be forbidden. It doesn’t matter that you personally love chocolate; you’ll still have to write against it!
  • Adapt your text to the target audience. Who’s writing? To whom? And why? If you’re pretending to write for a news website, you won’t use the same style as if you were writing a letter of complaint. The structure and style should match the type of text you’re writing.
  • Write a quick outline of your text before you begin writing. Gather examples you can use to support and organize your arguments.
  • Re-read your text very carefully, focusing on grammar, conjugation, and words agreeing in gender and number. Don’t forget about the punctuation.

How to Practice

  • Reading is an effective way to improve your grammar and vocabulary, and get familiar with the most common sentence structures. You’ll have to focus your reading on opinion pieces and reviews to get used to the style, and to learn the kind of vocabulary and connecting phrases these texts use.
  • Of course, writing is also great; but you’ll need to get feedback from a native speaker. There are some online communities where you can post your work and request feedback on websites like HiNative.
  • If you’re a Premium PLUS subscriber, you can use MyTeacher and send your practice texts to your tutor for a detailed and comprehensive review.
  • Read the instructions of actual B2 DELF tests to know what to expect. See how long it takes you to come up with your ideas and outline, and how comfortable you are writing 250 words within the rest of the hour.
A Woman Writing Late at Night

Will there ever be a better time to start writing your memoir in French?

4 – The Speaking Test

Duration: around 50 minutes, including the preparation, for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll have to present and defend an opinion, based on a short document provided to you.
You’ll have thirty minutes to read the document and prepare for a ten-minute oral speech.

Once you’ve told your piece, you’ll then discuss it with two examiners for ten more minutes. They’ll ask you questions to start a dialogue, and you’ll have to not only react to their solicitations, but also take initiatives in the exchange.

Pro-Tips

  • Read the document carefully, as many times as it takes to be sure you perfectly understand what it says, as well as its implications. 
  • Decide whether you want to support the idea or argue against it, and what your take on the issue will be.
  • Write a list of arguments and examples, in the form of bullet points. Remember you only have thirty minutes of preparation, and you shouldn’t try to write the whole script of your ten-minute speech.
  • You may want to use some quotes from the text to make sure you don’t go completely off the rails. You can use these quotes to support the idea or contradict it.
  • You can illustrate your opinion using examples from current events or knowledge from any source you’ve read or heard from. Using concrete words, details, and examples keeps people more interested than abstract concepts and ideas do.
  • Try not to scatter yourself too much. You may want to articulate your speech around the classic triad of thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

How to Practice

  • Check some official DELF tests to see what you should expect, the kind of texts they provide, and what you would talk about in your ten-minute speech. It’s the best way to practice in “real” test conditions.
  • Practice your listening as much as possible. It’s often considered easier to make a statement than to understand one, and you’ll have to understand many questions from the two examiners.
  • Practice speaking with natives as often as you can. Talking to random strangers is the best way to get out of your comfort zone and get used to different accents, speeds, and styles.
  • If you don’t have native speakers available, try to practice with other learners or even alone. In that case, make sure to record yourself and try to correct your own mistakes. Speaking often, even to yourself, will make you more comfortable over time.
  • And of course, if you’re using MyTeacher, you can send recordings to your tutor and get some great feedback on your grammar and pronunciation!
A Crowd Cheering on an Orator

Conquer your French audience with well-crafted arguments!

4. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about the French proficiency tests DELF and DALF, from the reading exam and essay-writing, to the listening test and oral speech. 

Did I forget any practical information you need to get ready for your DELF exam? Do you feel ready to start practicing and rise to the challenge?

A good exercise to practice is to pick one of the official DALF or DELF French examinations and just do it, from A to Z. It’s gonna take a few hours, for sure, but only then will you know exactly what to expect, and how you should get ready for it!

FrenchPod101.com also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings, and free resources to boost your studies and keep your French-learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. You can have your private teacher help you practice for your upcoming DELF exam, using personalized exercises and recorded audio samples; your teacher can also review your recordings to help improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

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French Keyboard: How to Install and Type in French

Thumbnail

You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in French! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a French keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free French Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in French
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for French
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to French on Your Computer
  5. Activating the French Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. French Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing French

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in French

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and French language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find French websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your French teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for French

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in French. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to French, so all text will appear in French. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to French on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the French language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “French.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as French with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “Français” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “French.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “French.”

4. Expand the option of “French” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “French.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “French,” and add the “French” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the French Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in French will greatly help you master the language! Adding a French keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “French” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select “French” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, this is a good app to consider:

6. French Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in French can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your French keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  • If you prefer, there’s an option to use the international keyboard instead. To do this, your computer will need a control panel configuration.

2- Mobile Phones

  • For iPhone: You have to go to the App Store and find the keyboard app that you want.
    • Tap “Get” > “Install.”
    • Then add the new keyboard. Go to “Settings” > “General” > “Keyboard” > “Keyboards” > Choose “Add a new keyboard,” and then select the app that you installed. 
  • For Android: In the “Keyboard & Input Methods” section, tap on “Virtual Keyboard.”
    • Tap on the Gboard Keyboard to open its settings.
    • Tap on “Languages.”
    • In order to add a different keyboard input language that’s different from the language you use daily, you need to first disable the “Use System Languages” button. Once you do, that, you’ll be able to add any input language you want for your keyboard.
    • Choose all the keyboard layouts that you need by turning on the switch to the right of their names. 

7. How to Practice Typing French

As you probably know by now, learning French is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your French typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a FrenchPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your French keyboard to do this!

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How to Find Jobs in France — The Best Work Guide

So, you’re ready to move to France! Will you live and breathe the amazing culture of the City of Love or stroll on the sandy wonders of the Côte-d’Azur? Maybe you prefer the lush countryside of the Alsace region and long to taste the elixir of its world-famous vineyards. Or waking up in Annecy with the smell of wildflowers and breathtaking views on the Alps mountains? Whatever you seek, there’s a beautiful corner waiting for you in France. But if you want to live there, let’s put it bluntly: You’ll have to make French money!

Start with a bonus, and download the Business Words & Phrases PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

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Table of Contents

  1. Get Your Paperwork Ready
  2. Find the Right Job for You
  3. Job-hunting in France from A to Z
  4. Here’s Why You’ll Love Working in France
  5. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Get a Job in France

Moving to a new country is equally exciting and challenging, but finding a job abroad is mostly just a headache. However, no matter your skills or your level of French, if you know where to look and how to deal with the French working culture, you’ll always be one step ahead of your competitors.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the whole adventure of finding jobs in France, from work ideas to foreigners’ favorites, up to the best places for your job-hunting. Take it from a local: It’s not easy to find jobs in France, especially English-speaking ones, but it’s definitely rewarding!

If you’re reading to start working and living in France, we truly hope this guide will provide you with all the information you need on finding employment in this beautiful place.

1. Get Your Paperwork Ready

Before we go job-hunting, let’s get the bureaucratic burden out of the way and make sure you have everything you need when you find your dream job. Obviously, this only applies if you intend to work within the limits of the Law, something we strongly encourage for many reasons, ranging from your personal safety to the penalties you’d be exposed to otherwise.

Visa

1- Working Permit & Visa

If you’re from the EU-EEA (European Union – European Economic Area), you can live and work in France with very few formalities and restrictions.

For most other people, it’s significantly tougher, as France has tightened its immigration rules in recent years in an attempt to lower the unemployment rate. Priority is given to the native workforce or to European nationals, but there are still many sectors where foreign workers are welcome!

Do I need a Visa?
Find out by filling out a quick form from the official government website.

How do I apply for a Visa?
Once again, check the official website. It will guide you step-by-step and allow you to track your application.

Work and residence permits in France are a wide topic and the specifics depend on your home country, the kind of job you seek, and the set of skills you have to offer. So checking out the official website may be the best way to learn more about Visa requirements for foreigners to work in France.

In a nutshell, most employees looking for a job in France will need to apply for a Residence Permit or a Talent Passport Permit a few months before entering the country and will need to be sponsored by a French employer. It’s generally much easier to get the permit when applying for a highly qualified job than for entry-level work. You can read more about this on Expatica.com or Welcome to France.

2. Find the Right Job for You

As in any country, there’s a galaxy of different career fields or positions you could undertake in France. It first comes down to your personal tastes, but then also to your level of French because let’s face it: speaking French will always be a HUGE advantage.

Do I sound like “Captain Obvious” here? Believe me, this simple truth is much truer in France than in most other countries, because English isn’t yet so widely spread in the French monde du travail (“world of work”).

Four People Talking

1- If You are Fluent in French

If French holds no secrets for you, you can afford being picky when finding a job in France! Depending on your skills and degrees, you’ll find a wide variety of jobs and can apply freely, just as you would in your home country.

Throughout your job-hunting, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked for proof of your fluency. DELF and DALF are French proficiency certificates and are a reasonably cheap option. They’re valid for life and widely recognized.

2- If You are Intermediate in French

You’ll have to be more flexible, but there will still be many more open doors than without any French in your arsenal! Don’t be shy about using it in your professional interactions and in advertising about your interest in learning more. Potential employers will appreciate it and it will greatly facilitate your job search.

You could also consider getting a certificate, such as DELF or DALF diplomas, but many employers simply test your level during the job interview. So, there are options when it comes to intermediate French jobs for foreigners.

3- If You are a Beginner in French

You’ll have to be open-minded and more creative, as many options won’t be available for you, like most jobs involving customer service or collaborative work. In that case, I recommend that you take a closer look at the Foreigners-friendly jobs listed in the next section.

I would also recommend that you work hard and smart to get at least the survival basics to get you through your working days in France. FrenchPod101 offers a wide variety of free resources and lessons, starting from absolute beginner. You can speed up the process with MyTeacher to get private one-on-one help and guidance from your personal teacher.

4- Foreigners-Friendly Jobs

Citizens of France are usually not really into foreign languages and their average English level leaves a lot to be desired. For you, this can be an amazing opportunity to fill all kinds of unsuspected vacancies! There are many types of jobs you can perform just by being a native speaker from your home country, or with an intermediate level of English and an open mind. Here are a few examples:

Language Teaching

This is always the first one that comes to mind, and for good reason! Teaching English is in high demand, but you could also find a job teaching another language.

For English teaching jobs, head to the following portals:

For this kind of job, a TEFL certificate will often be asked for (although not many employers actually check if you really have it) and experience is usually requested.

There are countless academies and private schools in France, with more than 300 in Paris alone, and you should thoroughly research their reputation before applying. Chains of language schools can be a quick road to employment, but keep in mind that it’s often the least stimulating and financially rewarding.

Also, outside of the realm of famous academies, you might want to expand your search to primary and secondary private language schools as well as universities.

Lady in Red Holding a Chalk

Tourism Industry

There’s a wide range of jobs in the tourism business where you can thrive just by being a foreigner or thanks to your skills in any language in high demand (English, Spanish, or Mandarin, to name a few).

Jobs range from Guide touristique (“Tour guide”) to working in an Agence de voyage (“Travel agency”). Working as a receptionist for hotels or Auberges de jeunesse (“Youth hostels”) is another popular option, but you could go off the beaten path and attend passengers on a luxury cruise or guide mountain hikers. Your imagination is the limit!

Check out the Pages Jaunes (“Yellow pages”), the French official business directory where you can find extensive lists of businesses by category and location.

NGOs and Think Tanks

Paris, especially, is the best place to start if you want to work for one of its many NGOs, Think Tanks, and institutions that are posting job offers on a regular basis.

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is a good place to start, with a frequently updated joblist on their official website.

You can also check the career section of UNESCO, as well as SOFRECO, or really any “Human Rights” association based in France, such as the FIDH.

Check out websites specialized in NGO jobs such as IndevJobs as well as general job directories like Indeed.

If you do check out some French job-hunting websites while looking for work in France, you’re likely to find success, followed by a fruitful career start.

Assisting Other Foreigners

Another way to use your unique position and expertise is to help other foreigners make it to France!

  • As a Relocation consultant, you’ll help other foreigners move to France. You can find a list of Relocation companies to check out.
  • Working as a French Red Tape Expert is another way to put your unique knowledge to work. If you’ve been in France for a couple of years or more, you should have learned a lot about the ropes and knots of French bureaucracy, as well as all of its overly complicated and soul-consuming rules and regulations!
  • As long as France remains the top destination for British and US citizens wanting to buy a new home, either for vacations or relocation, there will be a high demand for Estate Agents. Check out Leggett Immobilier for an example of successful businesses hiring agents.

5- Volunteering in France

Now what if you want to get your first experience in France without going through the trouble of getting a work permit? Or to simply enjoy the local lifestyle for a short time on a tourist visa?

Then, being a Volontaire (“Volunteer”) in France might be for you, and although it’s not gonna make you any wealthier, it will lift your spirit with wonderful experiences and unique job opportunities!

Harvesting

Volunteering usually consists of offering your time and energy in exchange for lodging and, in the best case scenario, food. The workload is usually not overwhelming and it’s a great way to meet people and experience various jobs as well as the local lifestyle, without the commitment of an actual work contract.

You can find a wide variety of jobs from walking dogs (or horses!) to renovating houses or even helping on movie sets, but you’ll find that 90% of these opportunities are given by farms and hostels.

  • Workaway and HelpX are two similar volunteering services. I personally find Helpx messy in its presentation (the job directory is quite terrible to look at) and Workaway has a significantly larger catalog. Both have a Premium membership for anything above just browsing the job listing. This means that you’ll have to pay a yearly fee to be able to contact the hosts (employers).
  • WWOOFing is the most popular option for nature lovers. It specializes in organic farming and may help you indulge in your French wine-tasting fantasy! (As if you needed more reasons to relocate to France for a while!)

3. Job-hunting in France from A to Z

Now that you (hopefully!) have a better idea of what kind of work you’re aiming at, let’s see what the best ways to find ANY kind of job are!

1- General Job Search Engine

Official Websites

  • Pole-emploi is the national agency for employment and as the biggest resource for French jobs, it’s your logical first stop. It has offices all over the country, but you can simply browse it online and lose yourself in its staggering number of job offers (688,535, at the time of writing!). Over time, it has partnered with more than 100 other job portals such as APEC or Monster.fr and is aggregating all of their results.
  • APEC (Agence pour l’Emploi de Cadres) is another national agency specialized in the employment of executives, and it also has a very well-stocked job directory.

Job Listing

French Favorites

Forget about Craigslist and jump right in these born and bred French job-finding websites!

  • Leboncoin – Emploi: If you’re looking for the French Craigslist, look no further. Leboncoin (“The good corner”) has a massive collection of ads and will keep you busy for weeks to come!
  • MeteoJob: Although “only” ten years old (compared to its antique competitors), MeteoJob is now a force to be reckoned with.
  • RegionsJob: Even if you’re into French job-hunting, you may not have heard of RegionsJob as it doesn’t fare very well in “Top Tens.” This is because its directory is divided into regions with different domain names such as NordJob or ParisJob. But all in all, it’s also a major player!

Here are a few more, in no particular order, that are still going strong:

Still not burned-out with job directories? Here are some more resources you can check out:

  • Indeed, although not French, is the second-biggest job-hunting directory in France, with more than six-million visitors every month.
  • Craigslist is also available in France. Remember when I told you to forget about it? Really, you should, unless you’re desperate enough to dig through its job section: a mass grave of creepy half-disguised prostitution ads of questionable legality.

2- Specialized Job Directories

If you’re looking for a job in a specific field and you’ve come out empty using the general search engines, try some more specific directories. I cannot list them all, but here are a few examples:

3- Getting Help Finding a Job

Temporary Jobs

The Agences d’Intérim (“Temporary job agencies”) are increasingly popular in France. They offer your resume to potential employers in exchange for a fee (paid by the employer).

The good thing is that you’re technically working for the agency and usually for a higher paycheck than what you’d get while on a normal work contract.

The icing on the cake is that the French working laws will shower you with financial bonuses such as the Prime de précarité (“Precarity bonus”) and the Indemnités de congés (“Paid leaves allowance”), to make up for the temporary nature of the contract.

Most Interim agencies have physical offices where you can directly meet someone and drop off your resume without arranging an appointment beforehand, but you can also register online.

Here’s a list of some of the major players in the Interim business:

Shaking Hands

Recruitment Agencies and Headhunters

Similar, but not confined to temporary jobs, the Agences de recrutement (“Recruitment Agencies”) and Chasseurs de têtes (“Headhunters”) can be a decent way to get help finding a job in France. But unless you have some skills that are in high demand or a couple of fancy degrees, they’re likely to politely thank you for your resume before burying it at the bottom of a huge pile of forgotten talents.

4- Expat Portals and Communities

There’s a number of Expats work directories, listing various kinds of jobs, often related but not limited to English and teaching.

Some of these portals are:

Another possible place for finding employment in France are Expats communities on social networks and message boards, such as American Expats in Paris or Expats in France.

Obviously, I cannot list them all here, but a simple search on Facebook or Reddit will take you a long way.

5- Job Fairs

Find where you can attend the Salons de l’emploi (“Job fairs”) and get out there! You can have several interviews in one day, which is an amazing shortcut. But keep in mind that you’ll have to be well-prepared and very convincing to win them over in the few minutes they usually allow.

You can find more information about the dates and places of these events on nSalons or recrut.com.

6- Spontaneous Applications

With the rise of the internet, it has fallen out of grace, but I strongly believe in the power of the Candidature spontanée (“Spontaneous application”) and the Porte à porte (“Door-to-door”) as a way to differentiate yourself and catch an employer’s attention.

  • Spontaneous applications can work anywhere. Get the email address of the company and send them some love in an emotional cover letter and an expertly crafted resume.

    Most French companies’ website will have a link called Contactez-nous, Nous contacter (“Contact us”) or Carrières (“careers”).
  • Door-to-door is even bolder and will probably work best for small- to medium-sized businesses. It will do wonders at your local bakery, but the receptionist at the office of a multinational corporation such as Renault or Dassault-Aviation might be confused about what to do with your resume.

7- NETWORKING, The Power of People!

Why this enormous title? Because this is the most important way to find a job in France (and most likely anywhere in the world). To be honest, everything I’ve previously enumerated can give you some results, but it really counts for about 10% of the job opportunities out there. Where are the 90%, then? Networking, networking, NETWORKING.

Most jobs in France are found through relationships and contacts, and even the positions that you see listed on Pole-emploi often end up being filled by someone with contacts within the company.

My golden rules of successful networking are:

  • Make the best of every single contact that you have and stay in touch with as many friends, acquaintances, and coworkers as possible, for as long as you can. It can take a lot of energy, especially if you’re not on the extrovert side, but it will pay off.
  • Make sure everybody knows on social media that you’re looking for a job.
  • Get out there! Take every opportunity to meet people with similar interests and genuinely make new friends. Maybe you’ll just end up doing yoga together, but there’s always a chance they’ll eventually lead you to your dream job.

4. Here’s Why You’ll Love Working in France

Working in France comes with a list of benefits that are truly hard to believe for many foreigners, including lots of days off and a collection of goodies and vouchers on just about everything. So let’s take a look at France work benefits and perks, shall we?

Job Security

Working in France, you’re protected by a heavy set of laws making you hard to fire and leaving you with a hefty compensation if it happens. Lately, some of these laws are being targeted by President Macron to make the Code du travail (“Labor code”) more flexible in favor of higher employment rates, but at the moment, French workers are well taken care of.

Unemployment Allowance

If you happen to lose your job or are coming to the end of your temporary contract, you can benefit from the Allocation Chômage: the French unemployment allowance program. You will be compensated monthly for about two-thirds of your former salary to help you find another job!

Transport and Food Subsidies

If you come to work using public transports, your employer will pay for at least 50% of your monthly Pass. In some cases, they can also pay for your gas if you come with a car.

On top of that, most companies pay half of your Tickets restaurant: vouchers that can be used in any restaurants or bakeries, and many supermarkets.

35-Hour Weeks

Many workers in France are working more than the legal limit of 35 hours per week. But in that case, they get compensated with paid vacations called RTT. That’s a fair amount of additional days off if you work 38 hours per week! And overtime is strictly regulated—you don’t mess with French working hours!

Paid Holidays

On top of your RTT, you’ll get five weeks of paid vacation per year. Oh, and did I mention around 11 days of national holidays (when we’re lucky enough not to have them on Sundays!) and some more special time off if you get married?

Health Insurance

If our cheap health care system wasn’t a good enough reason to relocate to France, many employers offer cheap deals on a Mutuelle: a complementary private plan that takes care of whatever the general health care isn’t paying for you.

Your Best Friend: the Comité d’entreprise

If you’re working for a big company, it’ll most likely have what we call a Comité d’entreprise (“Work council”). These guys are working full-time on your happiness by providing all kinds of perks: from cheap tickets to discounted holidays and various kinds of vouchers for books and gifts.

5. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Get a Job in France

And here we are! You’ve learned what kind of work you can find in France, how to search for it, and more importantly, how to land the job of your dreams. Are you excited to work in France? Do you think you can gracefully blend in with the French work culture?

FrenchPod101 has tons of free vocabulary lists with audio recordings that can help you prepare for your job search:

Learn more about the professional vocabulary that you’ll need to quickly go through job offers, using the most important keywords that we’ve seen in this guide.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching and have your private teacher answer any of your language questions during your job search!

About the Author: Cyril Danon was born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Secret Revealed: The Best Way to Learn a Language on Your Own

Learning A Language on Your Own

Can You Really Learn French Alone?

Learning a language on your own or without traditional classroom instruction may seem quite daunting at first. What if you run into questions? How do you stay motivated and on track to achieving goals?

Don’t worry, not only is it possible to learn French or any language without traditional classroom instruction: FrenchPod101 has created the world’s most advanced and extensive online language learning system. Not only is FrenchPod101 specifically designed to help you with learning a language on your own, it’s actually faster, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom options!

Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning French or any language alone.

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3 Reasons to Learn a Language Alone

Learning Alone

1. Learn at Your Own Pace and On Your Schedule

In today’s fast-paced world, there just isn’t time for traditional classroom instruction. Between getting to class and studying on some professor or teacher’s schedule, traditional classroom learning is simply impossible to fit in. But when you learn French alone, you can study in bed if you like and whenever suits your schedule best, making it far easier to actually reach your goal of learning and mastering the language.

2. Learning a Language on Your Own Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Speaking in front of a class, pop quizzes, and tests are just a few of the stressors you will encounter when you learn a language in a traditional classroom setting. Specifically, these are external stressors that often derail most people’s dream of learning a new language. But when you learn French alone, there are no external stressors. Without the external stress and anxiety, it becomes much easier and more exciting to study French and reach your very own goals—all on your own!

3. Learning French Alone Helps Improve Cognitive Function and Overall Success

Learning a language on your own is indeed more challenging in some ways than being taught in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, while classroom instruction requires more rote memorization and following instructions, studying a language on your own requires more problem-solving and higher cognitive function to self-teach lessons and hit goals. So while it’s more challenging and requires higher levels of cognition, teaching yourself a language pays dividends throughout life by better preparing you for social/work opportunities that arise.

How to Learn a Language on Your Own with FrenchPod101

Learning with FrenchPod101

1. Access to the World’s Largest Collection of French Audio & Video Lessons

The best way to learn a language on your own is to study from native speaking instructors. Ideally, you want audio and/or video lessons that teach vocabulary, grammar, and provide actual French conversations and dialogue to help you with pronunciation. FrenchPod101 has hundreds of hours of HD audio and video lessons created by real French instructors and every lesson is presented by professional French actors for perfect pronunciation. Plus, all lessons can be accessed 24/7 via any mobile device with Internet access. And, if you download the PDF versions of each lesson, you can even study without Internet access once the lesson is stored on your device!

2. “Learning Paths” with French Courses Based Upon Your Exact Needs & Goals

Although FrenchPod101 has more than thousands of video and audio lessons, you need not review each and every one to learn the language. In fact, FrenchPod101 has developed a feature called “Learning Paths”. You simply tell us your goals and we will identify the best courses and study plan to help you reach them in the shortest time possible. So even though you are technically learning a language on your own, our team is always here to help and make sure you reach your goals FAST!

3. Advanced Learning Tools Reduce Learning Time and Boost Retention

When you have the right tools and French learning resources, it’s actually easy to teach yourself a language! In the past 10+ years, FrenchPod101 has developed, tested, and refined more than 20 advanced learning tools to boost retention and reduce learning time, including:

  • Spaced Repetition Flashcards
  • Line-by-Line Dialogue Breakdown
  • Review Quizzes
  • Voice Recording Tools to Help Perfect Pronunciation
  • Teacher Feedback and Comments for Each Lesson
  • French Dictionary with Pronunciation
  • Free PDF Cheat Sheets
  • And Much More!

Armed with our growing collection of advanced learning tools, it’s truly a breeze to learn French alone and reach your goals!

Conclusion

Learning a language on your own is not only possible, it’s actually easier and more beneficial for you than traditional classroom instruction. In fact, when you learn French on your own you can study at your own pace, eliminate stress, and actually increase cognitive function.

FrenchPod101 is the world’s most advanced online language learning system and a great resource to help you teach yourself a new language. With the world’s largest collection of HD audio and video lessons, more than 20 advanced learning tools, and customized “Learning Paths”, FrenchPod101 makes learning a new language easier, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom instruction.

And the best part is: With FrenchPod101, you can study in bed, your car, or wherever you have a few spare minutes of time. Create your Free Lifetime Account now and get a FREE ebook to help “kickstart” your dream of learning a language on your own below!

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Language Learning Tips: How to Avoid Awkward Silences

Avoid Awkward Silences

Yes, even beginners can quickly learn conversational French well enough to carry on real conversations with native speakers. Of course, beginners won’t be able to carry a conversation the same way they could in their native language. But, just knowing a few tips like which questions to ask to keep a conversation going are all you need to speak and interact with real native speakers! But before we get to specific suggestions, let’s first take a closer look at how having real French conversations is so vital to your mastery of the language.

Learning to Carry a Conversation is Vital to Mastery of Any Language

Communicating with other people is the very point of language and conversation is almost second nature in our native tongue. For beginners or anyone learning a new language, conversations aren’t easy at all and even simple French greetings can be intimidating and awkward.

However, there are 3 vital reasons why you should learn conversational French as quickly as possible:

  • Avoid Awkward Silences: Nothing kills a conversation faster than long periods of awkward silence, so you need practice and specific strategies to avoid them.
  • Improve the Flow of Conversation to Make a Better Impression: When you know what to say to keep a conversation going, communication becomes much easier and you make a better impression on your listener.
  • Master the Language Faster: Nothing will help you learn to speak French faster and truly master the language than having real conversations with native speakers. Conversations quickly expose you to slang, cultural expressions, and vocabulary that force you to absorb and assimilate information faster than any educational setting—and that’s a great thing!

But how can you possibly have real conversations with real French people if you are just starting out?

3 Conversation Strategies for Beginners

Conversation

1. Ask Questions to Keep a Conversation Going

For beginners and even more advanced speakers, the key is to learn to ask questions to keep a conversation going. Of course, they can’t be just random questions or else you may confuse the listener. But, by memorizing a few key questions and the appropriate time to use them, you can easily carry a conversation with minimal vocabulary or experience. And remember, the more French conversations you have, the quicker you will learn and master the language!

2. Learn Core Vocabulary Terms as Quickly as Possible

You don’t need to memorize 10,000’s of words to learn conversational French. In fact, with just a couple hundred French words you could have a very basic French conversation. And by learning maybe 1,000-2,000 words, you could carry a conversation with a native speaker about current events, ordering in restaurants, and even getting directions.

3. Study Videos or Audio Lessons that You Can Play and Replay Again and Again

If you want to know how to carry a conversation in French, then you need exposure to native speakers—and the more the better. Ideally, studying video or audio lessons is ideal because they provide contextualized learning in your native language and you can play them again and again until mastery.

FrenchPod101 Makes it Easier and More Convenient Than Ever to Learn Conversational French

Learning French

For more than 10 years, FrenchPod101 has been helping students learn to speak French by creating the world’s most advanced online language learning system. Here are just a few of the specific features that will help you learn conversational French fast using our proven system:

  • The Largest Collection of HD Video & Audio Lessons from Real French Instructors: FrenchPod101 instructors have created hundreds of video and audio lessons that you can play again and again. And the best part is: They don’t just teach you French vocabulary and grammar, they are designed to help you learn to speak French and teach you practical everyday topics like shopping, ordering, etc!
  • Pronunciation Tools: Use this feature to record and compare yourself with native speakers to quickly improve your pronunciation and fluency!
  • 2000 Common French Words: Also known as our Core List, these 2,000 words are all you need to learn to speak fluently and carry a conversation with a native speaker!

In all, more than 20 advanced learning tools help you quickly build vocabulary and learn how to carry a conversation with native speakers—starting with your very first lesson.

Conclusion

Although it may seem intimidating for a beginner, the truth is that it is very easy to learn conversational French. By learning a few core vocabulary terms and which questions to ask to keep a conversation going, just a little practice and exposure to real French conversations or lessons is all it really takes. FrenchPod101 has created the world’s largest online collection of video and audio lessons by real instructors plus loads of advanced tools to help you learn to speak French and carry a conversation quickly.

Act now and we’ll also include a list of the most commonly used questions to keep a conversation going so you can literally get started immediately!