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This article is all about choosing the best French learning books to suit your learning goals. Whether you’re starting out as a beginner, honing your French as an intermediate learner, or perfecting your level at an advanced stage, there are French learning books for you.

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If you’re at a roadblock with your French language study, this article is full of ideas to keep you motivated.

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The best books to learn French – beginner level

Let’s start by looking at five of the best French learning books for beginners in French.

Complete French Grammar (Annie Heminway)

All beginner French speakers should count a good French grammar book among their book collection. This is a great guide to the French language for beginners, with detailed explanations of key language concepts and vocabulary, with reading practice.

Easy Learning: French Conversation (Collins)

As a beginner, burying your head in grammar is not always the most inspiring start to your relationship with a language. This book focuses on using French in conversations, making it directly useful to French communication and not just theory.

Le petit prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

If you thought grammar books were the only type of French reading available to you as a beginner, think again. This children’s book is beloved by readers of all ages. Though short, this story will introduce beginner learners to new words and an essential part of French literary culture.

French Short Stories for Beginners (Olly Richards and Richard Simcott)

If a novel seems a little out of your league, try starting with a set of short stories instead. The format makes it easy to dip in and out of the book to learn new words, all while enjoying snippets from life in France. Set mostly in Paris, this book is a perfect introduction to life in France.

Tintin (Hergé)

Pretty much everyone has heard of Tintin, and for good reason. Though this book set in Belgium won’t plunge you into life in France, it does offer beginners a great way into the language. The story follows the life of a boy reporter and his dog, Snowy, with a dusting of social commentary.


The best books to learn French – intermediate level

Now let’s look at five of the best French learning books for intermediate learners in French.

Moments littéraires : An Anthology for Intermediate French (Bette Hirsch and Chantal Thompson)

As your French improves, you might be tempted away from traditional French learning books to novels and stories. Why not combine both? This is one of the best books to learn French for bookworms seeking some French literary culture while they hone their mastery of French tenses and vocabulary.

En bonne forme (Simone Renaud and Dominique van Hooff)

French learning books don’t have to be all about serious grammar and vocabulary. Intermediate-level speakers often crave more native knowledge of the language, including expressions and slang, and this is exactly what this book seems to offer learners. This is our pick for one of the best books to learn French if you like a little fun.

L’orphelin de Perdide (Stefan Wul)

French learning books come in all shapes and sizes, and this one is a great choice for intermediate learners looking for their first serious reading challenge. The novel is set on a fictitious planet and offers readers the opportunity to incorporate new science-fiction vocabulary into their lexicon.

Arsène Lupin, Gentleman cambrioleur (Maurice Leblanc)

The best books to learn French are the ones that keep you turning the page. This crime fiction series will have intermediate learners gripped from the first page. Plus, if you really enjoy these novels, you can take your learning one step further and enjoy the top-rated French Netflix series inspired by the books, Lupin.

La nuit des temps (René Barjavel)

Looking for French learning books that make you feel something? This could be the novel for you. This French story book is set in Antarctica with lots of twists and turns.

The best books to learn French – advanced level

To finish off, let’s look at the five best French learning books for advanced speakers.

Le bon usage (M. Grévisse)

Not all French learning books are exclusively for foreigners. This book is treasured by French speakers from beginner to native for its towering authority on using French in any context.

Short stories in French (Penguin)

The best books to learn French at an advanced level will take you away from pure grammar and vocabulary and towards French literature, because the better you get, the more you need to be challenged. This book introduces advanced learners to short stories for lessons in analytical reading.

Entres les murs (François Bégaudeau)

Set in an inner-city high school in Paris, this novel follows the lives of fast-talking teenagers and their city exploits. This is one of the best books to learn French for advanced readers because it will challenge you to understand slang and expressions.

Voyages au bout de la nuit (Louis-Ferdinand Céline)

Looking for a French learning book that takes you on a journey? This novel will expand your way with words and your grip on French grammar, all while keeping you entertained with an improbable journey through Africa and the US.

Ensemble c’est tout (Anna Gavalda)

Who said French learning books for even more advanced learners need to be a chore? This novel is a heartfelt read about a girl’s struggles with anorexia, peppered with witty dialogue.

Why choose to learn French with books?

Although it is not a fun method like games to learn French, when it comes to learning a new skill, many of us feel most comfortable turning to a book. Books are how we learnt at school, and if you decide to learn French with a language school or tutor, you’ll most likely be using a book.

There are some good reasons to consider using a French learning book for your language study, including:

  • Books provide structure to your learning and a sense of achievement as you move from chapter to chapter
  • Grammar books are useful for beginners as they introduce language concepts early on
  • Books allow learners to study in a group and individually
  • Learning through books can include grammar textbooks, but also novels and short stories

It’s a good idea to include book learning in your study plan, but have you considered some of the other options?


Other pleasant ways to learn French

Yes, there are other great ways to learn French and improve your level besides burying your head in a book. Here are a few ideas to diversify your learning. You’ll find lots of ways to study French on your own and also lots of tips to learn French in the easiest way.

Watching French videos, films, and series

Did you know that even watching your favourite drama on Netflix in the evening can be a useful way to integrate French learning into your life?

When we watch TV, films, and YouTube videos, we are passively taking in information, but that doesn’t mean our brain is totally switched off. Even though we’re relaxing, we can make use of even the most passive moments in our day to learn new words.

Next time you’re kicking back in front of the TV or your laptop, think about adding French subtitles to your favourite show (if you’re confident reading intermediate French), or why not watch French content and add English subtitles as a backup?

Listen to French songs and podcasts

The same logic applies to using audio content. A great way to integrate French into your daily life is by making French part of your regular soundtrack.

Think about adding some French music to your playlist – you may even find something you like and find a new interest in a corner of French culture. If you want to incorporate more learning into the experience, read the lyrics at the same time and see how you can hone your ear to understand quick and familiar French, even as a beginner.

Other ways to learn through sound include putting on some French radio, listening to a podcast (on French language learning, or any topic in French), and listening to e-books. Some of these ways require a higher level, but you’re guaranteed to find it rewarding when you get there.

Also, audio media is a great way to learn the language by doing other things. You could, for example, learn French in the car with songs and radio, or learn French while you sleep with podcasts or other media.

Take your learning online

The methods we’ve mentioned so far are ways of incorporating semi-passive learning into your daily life, but what if you’re looking for an alternative to book learning altogether? Active learners looking to take control of their language study will thrive on online programs such as language learning websites and applications. If you’re not sure how it could benefit you, here are some of the main pros to website learning:

  • Flexible learning to fit around your schedule
  • Serious grammar and vocabulary practice
  • Great, fun ways to lighten up learning with games and activities
  • Content for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners

Learning French with GlobalExam’s Global General

If you’re not feeling inspired by more traditional ways to learn a language, like grammar books and tutors, you might feel more at home with website learning. Global General is GlobalExam’s answer to learners who like learning with variety and engagement. Our platform offers:

  • French grammar and vocabulary study materials at all levels
  • Diverse learning resources for reading and listening
  • Ways to track your progress as you learn
  • Opportunities to check in with tutors

If you’re looking for a good complement to French learning books, we recommend trying out a French learning website to give some structure to your study. Combining serious study with light-hearted games and activities is an excellent way to support learning through reading, so get started today!