Archive for October, 2008

Top 49 Learn French Sites

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Top French Site Awards

Top Learn French Site

The internet is a amazing tool for learning French. But with so many sites to sift through, it can be tough to find the best learn French sites.

That’s why I created the Top French Site Award to honour the cream of the crop on the internet. Below is the list of winners, I’ve split the list into topics to make it easier to sort through.

Did I miss a worthy site? Leave your comments and let me know.

Educational Resources

The quality of free learn French material online is astounding. My hat goes off to all the sites below.

BBC French – The mother of all learn French websites. I reviewed BBC French in a previous post.

About.com French – Comprehensive resource for learning French.

Carnegie Mellon Free French – The prestigious university’s French courses aren’t easy, as they feature natural French speakers – but they are high quality and free!

French Assistant – Free French language lessons, with over 150000 French words and phrases.

Learn French Video – Scores of lessons and tutorials on phrasese, grammar, verbs, and more.

French Revision – Interactive French lessons for the younger crowd (11-18).

Anne Fox Learning French – A collection of educational tools to help your French.

French Culture dot org – The official website of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy has tons of links to educational resources throughout the USA. Fantastic design on this site – something you don’t see often on government sites.

French in Action – Dozens of instructional learn French videos.

Wild French – A site that compiles various online learning resources that are made available through courses and textbooks.

Learn French with Quebec Gov’t- This is the official Quebec immigration site aimed at helping new Quebeckers master French. Quizzes, exercises, resources and more.

Zut Junior French – Between 9am and 4pm, this site offers free French activities to help kids learn French.

Frenchtastic People – Fantastic resource with lessons, exercises, and exams broken into 23 weeks.

French Teachers dot net – This site run by three French teachers in the UK started as a way to share teaching resources with other teachers. It has since grown into a site packed full of great learning resources.

Interactive French- Great resource from the University of Texas. Video and audio lessons will help your French.

Francophone Louisiana – This site was created by the Consulate General of France in New Orleans. Rich in learning resources and links.

French as a Second Language – French teacher Pierre Renaud has put together a great site with activities and print-outs for kids.

Mango French – Free French courses with slideshows and quizzes. Also features a number of other languages.

Blogs

I love the blogs below because they each give you a different perspective to French and learning French.

Foreign Language Fun – Diane, a French teacher, has put together a great blog here.

La Dame Dragon – A Canadian blog that focuses on corporate training of French.

I Heart France – Warm and funny blog by a high school French teacher in Texas.

Bringing up Baby Bilingual – Fascinating blog about raising a bilingual child. By a former French teacher.

The French Corner – Learning French Blog with lots of links. Check out their custom French Facebook applications!

Polly Vous Francais – Great blog about an American in Paris.

Naked Translations – Céline Graciet is an accomplished English-to-French translator who authors this engaging blog.

Too Many Frogs & One Brit – Hilarious blog about a Brit in France. Be prepared to laugh!

The French Journal – A great blog on French culture. Unfortunately the author does not post as frequently as I’d like to see!

Le Franco Phoney – Funny and well-written blog about life in France from an Australian’s perspective.

French Culture and Life

While these sites may not directly teach you French, they will give you a deeper insight into what it means to be French. The more cultural knowledge you have, the richer your understanding of French will be.

This French Life – Robust and active site focusing on French life. A must read if you want to move to France.

The Paris Blog – Group blog covering life in Paris.

Paris Daily Photo – The title says it all – one picture from Paris everyday by skilled Parisian photographer Eric.

From Paris With Love – A cool Paris blog for those planning to visit.

Montreal City Blog – Kate McDonnell’s blog about Montreal will keep you up on life in Canada’s coolest city.

Web in France Magazine – An English magazine about life in France.

Link Lists

In my searches I found a number of fantastic link lists to high-quality French sites. Many of the sites on this list were orginally discovered through the sites below.

Best French Websites – University of Northern Iowa’s Jim Becker has put together a massive list of recommended French resources. I’ve spent many an hour on this site following Jim’s links.

Tennessee Bob’s French Links – Loads of great French sites are linked from the University of Tennessee Martin’s teacher site.

College City of San Francisco’s Links – A huge list of French sites can be found here.

French Links – Geoff Hare’s site currently contains over 700 French sites.

Fred Riley’s French Links – 50+ great French links.

The French Connection - Australian National University French links. UPDATE: Unforunately this page is no longer live.

Fun

Sometimes you need a break from studying – on your break be sure to check out these fun French sites.

Social Networking for Languages – Busuu.com lets you connect with native speakers of the French language. Offers standard educational components too.

Live Mocha – Social networking site that connects you with free learn French tools and a way to connect with French speakers that want to learn English.

Real French – Thousands of games and activities to help you learn French.

French Slang – Finally, a site that teaches slang! Features audio and lessons.

French Mystery - If you can already read some French, this is a great site to help you brush up without making it feel like work. Play a detective and solve a mystery – in French!

French Podcasts

Podcasts are a great use of technology. They allow you to learn French on the go – whether it’s the gym or the train, you can be brushing up on your French!

Beginner French Podcasts – Great series of podcasts for those just starting out.

Daily French Podcast – Learn French via podcasts! A great use of technology to help you learn.

The Verbcast – The Verbcast is a podcast that focuses on French verbs and their tenses.

Peace Corps Podcast – 17 podcasts by the Peace Corps to teach you the French spoken in Mali.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Learn French For Free – BBC Languages

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Free French Fun!

Before you go dipping your hand into your wallet to pay out for a learn French software package, take a look at the BBC’s free online resources. While you don’t have the luxury of a voice recognition package to measure how good your pronunciation of French is developing, this site offers an excellent, easily accessible range of exercises and activities to everyone from absolute beginners jetting off on a package holiday to France, to seasoned veterans who want to brush up on the latest street lingo.

Varied Approaches To Learning

The BBC Languages site recognizes that different people learn French in different ways. For example, you have the option to watch short videos of everyday French people going about their business, read the transcript in French, or download the transcript in English and French.

From very basic vocabulary to get you through the essentials whilst holidaying in France, to the “Ma France” section which covers topics as varied as DIY house renovations to the florists who make up bouquets for the winners of the Tour De France, you’re bound to find a topic which is genuinely of interest to you.

At the end of topics, you can test yourself to see how much French you’ve taken in, and the BBC Languages French site now offers MP3 downloads so that you can keep learning whilst you’re on the move. This is ideal once you’ve had a chance to take in the basics and are accustomed to the accents and vocabulary.

A Slice Of French Life

What sets the BBC site apart from some of its competitors is its well thought-out content, which is very relevant to everyday French life and appeals to a variety of age groups, and the lack of annoying pop-ups and advertising surrounding the activity boxes. What really appealed to me were the “Ma France” videos and transcripts, as the situations were quirky and sometimes very amusing. I particularly enjoyed the “Speed Dating” section, which included one video of a guy trying to chat up his intended in less than 30 seconds! The images in the videos help you to focus on what you do know, rather than what you don’t. There are lesson ideas for language teachers included with many of the sections, making it perfect for use in group learning environments.

Overall, the BBC Languages French site may be a bit more similar to the classic ways of learning French used in schools than the more robust French software, but as a free resource it makes an excellent starting point. Visit the BBC French language site.

Learning French for Free – About.com

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

French Knowledge For Nothing

A great example of how the internet can save you a fortune when it comes to learning languages can be found at About.com. Their French learning site has a plethora of brilliant French learning materials including interactive games, blogs and forums in English and French, top learning tips and much more!

Once you’ve got over the cluttered layout, which is packed with rather annoying ads for other sites and services, you will find some very accessible, fun activities. I like the way in which the site is fronted by their resident French expert, Laura K Lawless, whose quirky little quibbles on the intricacies of the French language fascinated me and boosted my learning because I really wanted to understand the finer points of French.

French Games Galore

From quizzes and puzzles to fun interactive activities, About.com seems to have things pretty much covered when it comes to learning French. The site offers an insight into common errors which students make, and I found myself laughing at some of the more “delicate” mistakes – thank heavens I realised before I said the same thing! You can test your own French knowledge and see which areas you need to improve.

Keep in mind though, this site is not a dedicated individual learning package, your learning very much depends upon whatever is on offer that day, and you may find that some of the material is way beyond you! However, material for beginners is mixed in with the more complex stuff, and it’s worth persevering. For dedicate individual learning – check out the French learning software product reviews on the right hand side.

About.com French also features a lot of cultural information which will really get you into the French way of living and thinking – it even tells you the Saints’ days and gives background on the national and local holidays. This is something which is sadly lacking in many other French websites, and I felt as though I had a much better understanding of France thanks to About.com.

The Tough Stuff!

The “Language Lab” allows you to listen and respond to conversations which have been well chosen to represent typical real-life situations, and grammar and vocabulary are covered in various formats. If you need a quick reference tool for conjugating verbs, for example, you can just type in the word you’re looking for and get an immediate response.

As an online reference tool with some excellent learning materials and good links to other French learning sites and programs, About.com is a great free option. However, if you’re looking for a package which takes you through the French language from beginner to expert, you’ll be frustrated by the nature of this site as it doesn’t really link from one part to the next.