Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by Charmaine | The Canadian Wanderer
Learning French takes a lot of time and dedication. If you are looking for free and affordable resources to learn French in 2023, these websites, apps, podcasts, and immersion programs will help you reach your goals sooner.
Online Learning Resources for French
Technology is a great way for beginner or intermediate-level learners to learn vocabulary and grammar through repetition. I recommend 3 popular websites: Babbel, Duolingo and Mango Languages.
Learning French on Babbel
If you are looking for an interactive app or website to learn a language, I definitely recommend Babbel. The app teaches you vocabulary and then quizzes you in a mix-and-match format. I find it very entertaining and the repetition helps with my memory.
There are many European languages you can choose from such as French, Spanish, and Italian. I used it to learn French when I was an absolute beginner and really enjoyed my experience with Babbel.
Learning French on Duolingo
Duolingo is a great way to learn French (and many other languages) as it is an interactive app on you phone or computer. It uses the technique of spaced repetition, where it teaches you some vocabulary and then asks you again to reinforce your memory. They have over 30 European and Asian languages to choose from and it’s all free. Some of the uncommon languages you can learn to include Norwegian, Hungarian, Turkish and Welsh.
Learning French on Mango Languages
I have heard wonderful things about Mango Language, despite not having tried it myself. According to the website, it said that the French course will focus on the four skills necessary to connect in another language: grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and culture.
You can find Mango Languages for free through thousands of public libraries, schools, and other community organizations. If you are near the Toronto area, you can get access to it for free via Toronto Public Library and Markham Public Library.
Take Online, Live Classes with a Teacher
Although learning French on an app is interactive and fun, you will eventually want to work with a teacher one-on-one so they can help you with your language goals. I like to recommend Lingoda for small, affordable classes and iTalki for private classes to further get you closer to your goals.
Taking French Classes on Lingoda
When you are ready to master your speaking fluency, I recommend Lingoda. It is my favourite method for learning French!
Here are some highlights about Lingoda:
- You can choose which lesson to take, which teacher and what to focus on for this lesson. It can be a lesson that focuses on speaking, listening, reading or writing. This is also very helpful based on your availability.
- Their classes are super affordable and they have many promotions throughout the year. They are most known for their Language Sprint where you can be refunded for 50% or 100% of your money, upon successfully completing the challenge.
- Lingoda has a number of native teachers from around the world so you get exposed to different accents
- Since their group classes are only up to 5 students, I found there are ample opportunities to speak and ask questions. If there is less than 5 students, lessons still go on and you can potentially get a private class for the same price!
- You will have an opportunity to meet other language learners from around the world.
I highly recommend the Lingoda Sprint as it pushes you to stay consistent in taking lessons (15 or 30 classes a month for 2 months) and earn up to 100% cashback!
Don’t want to commit to the Sprint yet? Try the 7-day trial to see how Lingoda works!
Work with a Private Tutor on iTalki
If you are looking for a teacher to help you to improve your language skills, iTalki is a great place to look for a professional or community teacher. You can try different teachers and pick one that is right for you, and continue working with them. Some of my favourite features about iTalki is their cheap trial lessons, the choice between community tutors and professional teachers and that I can choose the right price and time for me! There is also multiple of filters available so you can find a teacher that is right for you sooner.
Practice Speaking with a Native Speaker
Once you have gained some confidence with a teacher, it is time to practice your language skills with a native! After all, what is the point of a language if you can’t communicate with it? I will provide you with two platforms that can connect you with native French speakers.
Speakmeeters is a website that helps you find certified native speakers to improve your speaking skills, expand your vocabulary and boost your confidence. Since this website is based in Paris, there are plenty of native French speakers on the platform who can help you improve your French skills. This website also gives you an opportunity to meet new people and discover new cultures in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
Although Speakmeeters is not free like other exchange apps, each teacher is verified and hand-picked by the Speakmeeters team, which ensures high-quality tutors. You can try one class for as low as €12 and with a monthly pass of €39, you can have unlimited group video sessions in any language! It is super affordable and you can earn points for doing classes, which can exchange for free classes in the future.
Conversation Exchange is a free website that allows you to find native speakers in your area. Even though so many new apps have come out in the past ten years, I still like referring people to Conversation Exchange because you can filter your ideal partner by country and city. Perhaps you have a preference of location or accent so this can be super helpful! I have used this website to meet people and practice my language skills every time I move abroad.
Listening to Podcasts
Podcasts are great for improving your listening skills and to see how much you have improved. It is such a great feeling to know that you can understand!
Listening to Stories on Duolingo’s French Podcast
Duolingo French Podcast is my favourite and only podcast that I listen to. They have many fascinating stories about real people in easy-to-understand French. Each episode is about 20 minutes and it is conducted in both English and French, which allows you to acquire new vocabulary and understand the context of the story.
Since it is 50% in French and English and the stories are interesting, I found it easy to listen, no matter what I am doing. The transcripts are also available online so you can follow and catch up on words that you had missed. You can listen to Duolingo’s French podcast on the website or on Spotify.
Watching Youtube Videos
There are so many great Youtube channels out there to learn French! However, I have picked out two for you to check out because I really enjoyed them myself.
InnerFrench is one of my favourite podcasts / Youtube channel for learning French. Hugo is a great podcast host, where he teaches French through explaining concepts in a moderate speed. I find his topics to be entertaining and it is like listening to a friend teach you about something new. It is very informative, yet at the same time, trains your ears to French while he explains certain words and its meanings. He adopted his teaching approach based on Steven Krashen’s famous Theory of Second Language Acquisition.
Comme une Francaise
Comme une Française is a channel created by Géraldine. She teaches French in a fun way, using English to explain how the language works. Her videos will teach you how the French language is used, what French culture is like as well as pop-cultural references so you can speak like a real French person. You can check out her Youtube channel here.
Go to a French-speaking City and Immerse Yourself!
There is nothing like jumping into a new city, meeting locals and testing out your French skills. It is time to get out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the language. In the three programs below, Explore, Odyssey and TAPIF, you will get an opportunity to experience French culture in different contexts, depending on which region you stay in!
I did all 3 programs when I was barely even speaking French! These programs really showed me that the best experience is to live it and to reward yourself every time someone understands you! It is worth the journey.
Discover French culture with the Explore Program in Canada
The Explore program is an intensive French-immersion program funded for students by the Government of Canada. The program allows one to live in another province to learn and improve their second-language (either in French or English), while also taking classes and going out on fun activities during the summer or spring.
I highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking for an adventure. This is a great opportunity to not only improve your language skills but also want to meet people from across Canada. I have personally done this program and can’t say enough good things about it!
In order to be funded for this program, you must:
- Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (PR)
- Meet the institution’s minimum age requirement by the time Explore begins (13–15, 16–17, or 18+)
- Be a full-time student for at least one term of the current school year OR have been an Odyssey participant within the last two years (more details about Odyssey below)*
Although this program is funded for Canadian citizens and PR, most institutions accept participants who can cover their own expenses, even if they are from another nationality. You may also be eligible for one of the school’s scholarships or bursaries. I recommend that you contact the coordinator to find out if there are any opportunities available.
In 2019, I went to Trois-Pistoles to attend Western University’s French Immersion Program and was able to get a bursary. If you are not eligible for an Explore bursary, you can apply directly to one of Western’s scholarships: Western University French Immersion OSOTF Bursary, Western University French Immersion Bursary, or Dr. W. Sherwood Fox Award. You can see the information here.
Live in Quebec via Odyssey Program in Canada
The Odyssey program is a sister program to Explore and is also funded by the Canadian government. The goal is similar to Explore: allow Canadian or PR citizens to learn a second language while also embracing a new culture and city.
However, instead of participating as a student, Odyssey is a paid nine-month teaching assistant program to teach English or French students in another province. You can be an English assistant and use games and activities to help students learn and improve their language skills for $25/ hour.
In order to participate in the program as an English teaching assistant, you must:
- Have excellent English-language skills, both oral and written.
- Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada (those studying in Canada on a student visa are not eligible)
- Have completed at least one year of postsecondary education within the last 10 years
Teach English and Live in French-speaking countries with TAPIF
If you are looking for an opportunity to work and travel in France and Europe, this is your calling! The Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) is an opportunity for you to spend 7 months in a classroom, teaching your native language to French students of all ages. As this program is managed by France Éducation international, you can be hired as a language assistant for English, German, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, or Portuguese. Please check your French embassy in your country for more information.
If you want to teach English, you can find more information on how to apply as a Canadian or American citizen. Every year, Canadian citizens and permanent residents are offered to teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of France including the French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and La Réunion.
* This post contains affiliate links, which goes toward supporting my site.
I hope this guide will help you to improve your French. Please let me know which one you had tried and found most helpful below in the comments!