How can I revive my French?
December 3, 2020 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the best resources to refresh my french vocabulary and grammar (preferably for free).

I studied French to a point of fluency in high school and my first year of college. However, it's been quite a while since then and I've gotten rusty. I'd like to refresh my grammar and vocabulary from the ground up, but I'm not looking for elementary level courses as my aural and reading comprehension is still very strong. What are my best options and resources for an accelerated vocab and grammar refresh?

I am preferably looking for free online resources but I am also open to purchasing workbooks or textbooks if there is one that is particularly recommended.

Bonus points for resources that have household vocabulary and/or vocabulary commonly used around children.
posted by donut_princess to Education (12 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I've been having this French news channel (live via Youtube) on in the background as I do stuff around the house. A big part of language learning is just getting it through osmosis/immersion, and French media helps approximate that, in my experience.

Also, I love the commercials.
posted by witchen at 9:00 AM on December 3, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Several years ago I did - and completed - Duolingo’s French course. But this year I have returned to see what they have now: big improvements in terms of depth and design as well as supplemental stuff like events, stories, podcast. If you have never tried it - or only a while age - I suggest you revisit. I find it especially good for strengthening grammar in a way that does not drive me mad. You can very rapidly skip through the earlier stages until you get to your proper level.

Personally I also attend a “Cineclasse” - several of us watch French films (with or without subtitles in French or English) - then we talk about them. I find that a very good linguistic workout. Maybe you could find or help establish something similar. Our teacher is a native speaker who works on English captioning for French films - ideally you would find somebody like that.
posted by rongorongo at 9:04 AM on December 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Check out News in Slow French. It's really well put together, and I think it might be the right level for your project of language rust removal.
posted by umbú at 9:33 AM on December 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It isn't really free, but I really like the Kwiziq tool that's available through Lawless French. You start with an evaluation test so it checks what you need to learn and adjusts upwards from there, and the lessons are very grammar focused. You can read and learn about the grammar and then do little tests that test your understanding of it. It's the testing that makes it powerful and you get only a very limited number of tests if you aren't paying, but you can at least poke around at it and get a feel for whether it is worth paying for.

Most of the vocabulary used is pretty domestic, rather than more professionally oriented, which is one thing I don't love about it, but which makes it better suited for your purposes than mine.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2020

Through my city's library system, I have free access to Mango Languages. It is super duper, and I'm saying this as someone who got a degree in French, lived in France for a year, and then got sidetracked by life and career for about 18 years before having the desire to get back up to speed.

At the same time, I started watching French films with (French) subtitles turned on. It's been a great complement!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:56 AM on December 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I quite like Evan Erdinger's description of his learning Spanish with Duolingo - the French course for English speakers is of a largely similar design. Spanish and Go also has some good tips on getting the most from the system. Both recommend you use the desktop version of the app - rather than the mobile one, when possible. I concur.

I quite like "Super Easy French" too - not always super easy level in fact - but lots of properly captioned footage of people speaking everyday French.
posted by rongorongo at 12:08 PM on December 3, 2020

rongorongo's Cineclasse or something like it sounds like just what you need if your strengths are already in aural and reading comprehension. Plus, those are the easiest to build up further with free online resources. To get beyond that point some semi-structured output--written or spoken--will be key.

Set up your French persona social media accounts. L'Instagramme! Francophone reddit must be a thing, or something like it. Post away and get some responses that will recast your language back to you. Have fun!
posted by Gotanda at 2:35 PM on December 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I really improved my accent and tourist French with the Coffee Break French podcast.
posted by Duffington at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2020

I find films, television and the news to be the best resource. You get vocab, culture, keeping informed of current events, and generally much more engaging than other ways of trying to learn a language.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:54 PM on December 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

TV5Monde - the French television channel offers French lessons. It's actually pretty good.

You can also subscribe to tv5monde for French television. (I don't think it's a very good channel but you might consider it for a few months. It's usually about $15/month added to your cable/dish bill. You can view programming on the website.)
posted by shoesietart at 9:45 PM on December 4, 2020

Also, check out BFMTV, the 24 hour French news channel. News anchors usually speak pretty clearly but you also get interviews and conversation with the general public on newsworthy topics.
posted by shoesietart at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2020

Best answer: I just saw on Twitter a mention of this service which connects people wanting to practise their French with older people in France, by video chat.
posted by zadcat at 7:52 AM on December 5, 2020

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