Your grammar course might be the "main meal" of your French learning, but it's also good to have a collection of tasty little French "snacks" that you can use to inject a bit of variety into your study.
These can help restart your motivation (if it needs a little oomph), flesh out your knowledge of Francophone culture, or stand in when you don't really feel like doing a "proper" lesson today.
Here are some of my favorite French "snacks", but I'm sure you'll find your own favorites too!
Geraldine sells online classes that you might end up trying, but she was first famous for her Youtube channel.
You could easily start with anything that is featured on her homepage, but if that's too much choice, my advice would be to start with her French greetings playlist, and then go for her super-useful Everyday life in France playlist. From there, the bubbly Frenchwoman's got your back, from 5-minute videos on how to pronounce just one sound, to 30-minute nanofictions.
You can also hear her thoughts on the portrayal of French characters in cartoons, and things you should definitely not say in French.
Continuing our theme of smart, sassy French women, Alexa has a hugely popular YouTube channel full of French language videos — all produced with a wicked sense of humor.
If you'd like a different perspective on some of the things you'll be covering in your grammar course, you can dive into her Practise your French playlist, and she also has a lot of videos covering "real life French" pronunciation, like this one:
Coffee Break Languages is an old-timer in the "language-learning-to-go" landscape. It offers subscription-based online courses that you can pay for, but it also has a huge library of free material in both podcast form and on their YouTube channel.
If you're brand new to learning French and you'd like to get started with some useful conversational basics, you could start at Season 1 of the podcast. If you're not a true beginner anymore, you can start at Season 2 of the podcast, which will give you more grammar to sink your teeth into.
If you prefer to watch videos, the "French to go" playlist on YouTube is excellent for beginners: Pierre-Benoît will teach you basic, useful French, by asking random people in the streets of France to speak French for you. Every video has a second part where you can listen again with English subtitles.
Memrise is essentially a souped-up flashcard tool for learning new vocabulary.
It's lovely to look at and a pleasure to use. Vocabulary is introduced to you, and then brought back again and again in different forms so you can practice your listening comprehension, your recall, and your writing. Most of the time it's multiple choice, so it's not particularly challenging, and it won't teach you a lot of language for the time you invest into it. But it's still a fun little tool to noodle around with.
I particularly like the use of video in the Memrise-created courses. You can hear phrases spoken by native speakers, at native speed, and in their own accents. You'll hear the same phrase multiple times from different speakers.
The free membership gives you access to a huge amount of content — a lot is created by Memrise themselves, but there's also a huge library of user-generated vocab lists to work through. (And you can create your own as well.) There is a paid membership too, but at this time it doesn't seem to give you a whole lot more than the free membership.
Lingvist is another tool to help you memorise and learn vocabulary using spaced repetition. Lingvist's difference is that it creates cloze-test style flashcards, where you need to "fill in the gaps" by typing the correct vocabulary word. This means you're practicing your vocabulary in context, which is fantastic.
Lingvist's built-in decks include one covering the 5000 most commonly used French words, as well as other more targeted vocabulary.
You can also create your own Lingvist decks with vocabulary you'd like to work on. You can add words one-by-one, or paste a whole slab of text into the tool, and it will pick out the "most relevant" words and generate the surrounding phrases for context.
Lingvist requires a paid monthly membership (there is a free trial, but it requires a credit card).
If you'd like more flexibility to create and design your own flashcards, then you're probably looking for Anki. It's a hugely popular tool (not just for language learners), and comes as a downloadable app for desktop computers, free app for Android devices, and a paid app (one-off payment) for iOS.
With Anki you can create your own decks of vocabulary that you want to practice. At the most basic, you can create a two-sided flashcard with a word and the translation. But you can also get fancier with pseudo-cloze tests (some words will be hidden), images (with parts hidden) and more. In all cases, you're responsible for rating your success with each card, and this determines how frequently the card will re-appear in the deck.
Hugely useful point: In addition to creating your own decks, you can download decks created by other users. Here's a good place to start.
LingQ is a bit hard to wrap your head around, and a little bit awkward to use the first few times. But if you can persevere, it's a pretty impressive tool that will give you access to a huge library of reading material graded for your French skill level.
Even better, all the words in a piece of text will be automatically cross-referenced with definitions, usage and audio pronunciation — Perfect for your intensive reading.
You can start with the wide array of materials already present in LingQ, or you can add your own material into LingQ yourself to get the word/phrase definitions and pronunciation. You can even import videos (with closed captions) and songs (if you can provide the lyrics), so that you can listen while you read.
What LingQ does for written material, FluentU does for video media. A huge library of video materials sourced from the real world (movie trailers, news clips, television commercials, music videos) overlaid with transcripts, translations and definitions.
All videos are graded, so you can find material suitable for your level.
FluentU is also a huge producer of helpful blog posts full of French content to devour:
Yup, everyone’s favorite free language tool makes it into this list. What's great with Duolingo is that it is for everyone, everywhere, anytime. It is a big, fun, (and for some of us, addictive) language theme park that can help introduce you to French or reinforce some of the things you're learning elsewhere.
Be aware that in the absence of in-depth grammar lessons, learning a bunch of (occasionally quite weird) words and phrases with Duolingo will not make you fluent. But it may help you practice some skills you're learning elsewhere, and it will be excellent at building your confidence. It is also silly and fun, and good to pull out and play with when you have a few minutes.
Frantastique is a French teaching platform that creates 15-minute lessons tailor-made for you, and sends them to your email five times a week. The lessons are generated by an AI which learns the aspects of French you have the most trouble with, and customizes the lessons to work on those.
And then, there are the aliens. Frantastique bases its lessons around an ongoing story of aliens exploring France with the help of a cryonically preserved Victor Hugo. The story progresses using comic strips, videos and audio — all with a very specific sense of humor which will either appeal to you, or not. (It appeals to my sense of humor immensely.)
The downside with Frantastique is that lessons are drip-fed to you over the course of a week, and it's not possible to "binge" the lessons. This is good for getting you to commit to a regular "little and often" style of learning, but frustrating when you're paying a monthly subscription.
If this style of humor (and illustration) works for you, Frantastique would make a good addition to your learning routine to use alongside your regular French course. If the slightly steep monthly pricing puts you off, you can sign up for a 30-day trial, and then wait for memberships to come on sale, as they do several times per year.
P.S. Don't worry if your "snack" covers material that you've already covered in your French course. It is good to expose yourself to one same notion through different sources and environments — there are several paths into your memory and it is good when a notion has walked all those paths.