Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Virginie: Salut!
Eric: Eric here. Top Tools to Learn French. I am joined in the studio by:
Virginie: Hello everyone, Virginie here. Hey so Eric, tell me, what are we going to do today?
Eric: Today we are going to make your learning less painful.
Virginie: Umm that probably means we are not going to talk about grammar.
Eric: No this is going to be much more fun grammar. Now I have a question for the learning community out there listening.
Virginie: What is it?
Eric: What phase are you in learning French? Are you just starting to learn French, you are coming back after having studied it earlier on?
Virginie: Or have you been studying French for a fair amount of time and you are finding yourself stuck, not improving, not remembering anymore?
Eric: Whatever your situation is, there is many ways to get support while you are learning French.
Virginie: See it is especially hard to learn a language by yourself, no classroom.
Eric: No physical teachers.
Virginie: Only a couple of sexy voices online.
Eric: Don’t flatter yourself Virginie.
Virginie: Okay anyway it’s hard not to be helped by physical French environment unless you live in France and that’s another story.
Eric: Well today, we are going to give you the top five essential tools to help your learning improve.

Lesson focus

Virginie: Yes what you need besides us is some reliable resources.
Eric: So Virginie, what is our first tool going to be?
Virginie: Resource books.
Eric: Wait! What’s a resource book?
Virginie: Well a resource book could be a French textbook. It can also be a grammar book or vocabulary book.
Eric: Tell us a little bit more. What’s #2?
Virginie: #2 will be dictionaries and you will definitely need a good dictionary. You probably figured that out already.
Eric: And there are a bunch of dictionaries online for free. We are going to help you figure out the right one.
Virginie: Now our #3 tool will be...
Eric: Spelling checking tools.
Virginie: Wait! That’s cheating. You want to learn, not have some computer do all the work at your place.
Eric: Ah Virginie, you are such a purist. This isn’t going to do all the work for you. It is a spelling tool that’s going to help you work out your mistakes.
Virginie: Ah you scared me for a minute.
Eric: Okay and what’s next, tool #4.
Virginie: Song lyrics.
Eric: Sounds like a good way to learn but what if I am a total beginner?
Virginie: Well then, working with songs will be a great research exercise.
Eric: Okay we are going to get some details on that later.
Virginie: And finally our #5 tool.
Eric: A pronunciation tool. Improve your pronunciation by asserting yourself. It’s free and easy to use.
Virginie: Sounds great. Shall we start with our first tool?
Eric: Let’s go.
Virginie: C’est parti!
Eric: Having been a student of French myself, I used multiple French textbooks and also a bunch of other reference materials.
Virginie: Yeah some are better than others and I think the best idea is probably to use methods, textbooks that are in French only.
Eric: Right. That’s part of like an emerging experience.
Virginie: Yes don’t worry if you are beginner. The methods for beginners are adjusted to your level. For example, assignments although written in French are totally understandable for the beginner.
Eric: I will recommend that you look into a publisher CLE International.
Virginie: Oh yes they are specialized in French as a foreign language and they have quality lesson and exercise books and audio material. It’s a little pricy but worth the purchase.
Eric: And CLE key is that they are key to french language right?
Virginie: Right exactly.
Eric: But if you can’t afford it, go to your closest “Alliance Française” French Alliance where all kinds of research books are made public in their library.
Virginie: The Alliance Française is a French Alliance. For those who wonder what it is, it is a French learning center certified by the French governments and the EU. There are many of them throughout the world.
Eric: The Alliance Française can also offer many cultural events, conferences, workshops you know depending on the size and the budget of the location.
Virginie: For example, the Alliance Francaise of Košice in Slovakia is very small and has a limited number of books.
Eric: But the French Alliance in New York is a massive undertaking. So let’s go back to our research tools here. You said that CLE International had some good material. Could you recommend any specific titles Virginie?
Virginie: Of course to learn grammar and most importantly to be guaranteed you will improve, the series “grammaire progressive du français” by CLE International is just great. It means progressive French grammar. It covers all levels with just one book per level and it’s an awesome support for students.
Eric: Great. I agree. The “vocabulaire progressif du français” or progressive French vocabulary is also amazing.
Virginie: With this series, your vocab bank will grow in no time. You can find all their publications on their website. Can you give the address Eric?
Eric: Not a problem. It is www.cle-inter.com so that’s wwe.cle-inter.com
Virginie: Excellent. Now another great publisher is Hachette and they have a collection called “Français Langue Etrangère” which means French as a Foreign Language.
Eric: And not only you are going to find good textbooks like for example, “le nouveau taxi” which literally mean the new cab but it also has a nice writing material for specialized France such as business French, French for the tourism industry et cetera.
Virginie: Oh let me give you their website address if you want to look into their collection. It’s www.fle.hachette-livre.fr so it’s www.fle.hachette-livre.fr Any other hints regarding resource material Eric?
Eric: I think there is another very good publisher called “Didier” which offers quality French learning materials.
Virginie: Right that’s true. They have been doing it for quite a while now. Again check out the website. I am going to give another website address here. So be ready. It’s www.didierfle.com to get familiar with their choice.
Eric: And in general, the fle is “Français Langue Etrangère”. So anything you are going to look at, if it says fle is probably good for you but again watch out. These books are going to be in French only.
Virginie: Yes and they are all aligned on the learning standards established by the EU.
Eric: What’s the second useful tool on our list Virginie?
Virginie: Online dictionaries of course.
Eric: Dictionaries are our best friends.
Virginie: Or our best enemies.
Eric: Why do you say that?
Virginie: Well a dictionary usually provides a definition of a word out of a speech context right? They can lead to some major mistranslations.
Eric: Okay so you need a dictionary that’s going to give you some context as well.
Virginie: Yes it’s absolutely necessary. And what is great about some of the dictionaries available online...
Eric: Is that they are totally free.
Virginie: Yes it’s a good point but also most of them have a community forum where you can discuss language matters, translation problems et cetera.
Eric: That’s really helpful when it comes to exchanging ideas or getting help from other people who maybe native speakers.
Virginie: And remember you can do it with us as well on our forum
Eric: And the first online dictionary that we want to share with you is wordreference.com
Virginie: Which you probably already know.
Eric: Yeah. This is an excellent tool for all levels.
Virginie: And their forum is awesome. It’s a great community.
Eric: Now if you are an advanced learner, you can also check out lexilogos.com that’s lexilogos.com and this is a platform that’s going to give you some of the best reference material that you can think of and there’s going to be definitions that are in French.
Virginie: And we’d also recommend it for intermediate learners. Again diving into a French to French dictionary is a great way of improving faster and grasp the essence of French language.
Eric: Yes I think they are best fit for you if you feel more comfortable with a straight translation into English, use the bilingual dictionary but if you want to do it in a more emerging method, just use a normal French dictionary.
Virginie: Okay now it’s time to get to our #3 tool.
Eric: Which is a grammar and spelling checker. Before we give you the one we think is the best, we are going to give you something that you want to be careful of.
Virginie: You must be very careful with grammar checkers as they verify your grammar to some extent.
Eric: Yeah this tool is really not going to tell you if your ideas are coherent French or not.
Virginie: Yeah so we really recommend that you use it as a research tool not only as a corrector. That’s why we picked a very, very good one. Its called bonpatron.com Let me spell it for you: bonpatron.com First of all, it has been created by university professors and linguistic researchers.
Eric: That means like good boss I guess right?
Virginie: Yeah reliable. Also it is not limited to just checking your spelling and grammar. It gives you alternate ways to express your ideas and if you need to go in depth, it will explain to you why you are wrong.
Eric: In French though so if you are a beginner, this is probably not going to be worth a visit.
Virginie: Yeah this is for advanced only.
Eric: And finally what’s tool #4 again?
Virginie: Tool #4 is song lyrics. All you need is a music player and a good transcription of the lyrics.
Eric: And this is obviously great fun way to learn language.
Virginie: Yes. Now once again I would recommend it for intermediate to advanced students. If you are beginner and you start working on the song, it will quickly become very hard for you given the poetic charge of some songs, the metaphorical language et cetera, et cetera.
Eric: Right. As a beginner, this may just drive you crazy.
Virginie: But if you are advanced, it’s so much fun. You can go on the website paroles.net which is paroles.net n-e-t that outlines a huge variety of French songs from pop music to classics to kids songs.
Eric: And so “paroles” is the word for lyrics in French.
Virginie: Right “paroles” means lyrics.
Eric: So I can also give it a shot maybe at a karaoke bar if I can try on some French songs.
Virginie: Hmm yeah. I remember learning most of my English listening to The Bills and The Police. This is a Guilty pleasure here while checking their lyric books. You know that’s what’s great about learning with songs, you get all the language registers from familiar to casual to formal.
Eric: Now with those four tools, you will be able to get some backup with your writing, listening and reading skills but what’s left?
Virginie: Your speaking skills, your pronunciation and your confidence in what you are saying. You want people to understand what you are saying.
Eric: But don’t try to totally erase your accent, it’s so charming.
Virginie: I love when Eric speaks French, it’s beautiful.
Eric: Merci Virginie.
Virginie: Okay, so if you want to work on your pronunciation, we recommend an excellent website.
Eric: Okay get out your pens and write this one. Its www.research.att.com
Virginie: This is a website where you can record your voice and compare it with native French voice recordings.
Eric: Well let’s keep in mind that the best way to learn how to pronounce French will be to chat with actual native speakers but it’s great to have these benchmarks to compare yourself.
Virginie: And it’s for all levels too.
Eric: And one of the good ideas of the website is that you can pick a male voice or a female voice.
Virginie: Oh yes absolutely. We hope that all those tools will help you all become masters of the French language.


Eric: No pressure though, and thanks again for tuning into FrenchpodPod101.com
Virginie: Thank you all for listening and have a great day ! Au revoir!
Eric: Bye.