What's the best way to learn French?

Illustration representing a confusing abundance of choice

These days there are more ways to learn French than you can shake a wobbly baguette at. Along with the traditional French class + textbook, you've got apps on your computer, apps on your phone, YouTube videos, podcasts, online tutors, immersion experiences... yikes.

So it pays to make a plan for yourself.

Learning a new language is a reasonably long-term goal, and you don't want to spend a year following a strategy that doesn't really get you very far. (Or worse — a strategy that gives you bad habits that are hard to overcome.) 

So what is the best way to climb this mountain? Is there a combination of tools, or a routine, or a philosophy that makes everything easier? We set out to answer this question and it turned into a very long answer indeed. So we created this 7-part guide:

Your goals, needs and time-frame
Getting started: Your goals, needs, and time-frame

What do you need your French for, and how far do you want to go? What is your time-frame for getting there? These things impact on the approach you'll take to learning French.

Learning the grammar
Learning how French works: The grammar

It's a lot faster and easier to become fluent in French when you actively learn how the language works. We'll have a look at the different ways of learning French grammar.

Reading and listening skills
Improving your reading and listening skills

There are four main skills to learning any language. The first two are our receptive or comprehension skills — reading and listening. Here's how to improve yours.

Improving your writing and speaking skills
Improving your writing and speaking skills

The next two important skills are writing and speaking — our productive skills. Here's how to improve your ability to "find the words", and then write them or pronounce them so that people understand you.

Do you need a tutor?
Do you need a tutor?

Getting a personal tutor isn't a magic bullet, but it could be extremely helpful at certain points in your study. Here's how to find a tutor, and how to use them most effectively.

Extra tools
Extra tools to snack on

Your grammar course might be your core learning method (or "main meal") but it also helps to have a few little "snacks" on hand to keep things interesting. Here are some of our favorites.

The intermediate plateau
The Intermediate Plateau

Once you've mastered the basics, there's a good chance you'll arrive at the infamous intermediate plateau. Here's what it is, what it means, and what to do if you end up stuck here.