New words: read, learn, write, repeat
One of the most important building blocks for learning any new language is vocabulary, so naturally our number one best way to learn French on your own is to read as much as you can in French. When it comes to reading, almost any type of reading can be beneficial, depending on your level.
- If you’re a beginner, we recommend: low-level books suited for older children or young teenagers; short texts such as brochures and newsletters; websites and social media
- For intermediate speakers, try: mid-level books, such as short stories and novels; news stories
- If you’re already at an advanced level, you can improve your French by reading: native-level books, fiction and nonfiction; professional and scientific texts related to your field of work; long, detailed news stories
As you have seen, you can be sure to find the book that suits your level! A great technique for learning through reading is noting down new words that you think will be useful to you, then repeating them regularly until they stick.
Get to know French grammar
If you want to progress in French beyond basic conversation, there’s no escaping from French grammar. Although it might not sound super exciting to fill your time pouring over grammar, time well invested will have your level in French soaring in no time. Sticking to a grammar regimen can be difficult all by yourself, so we recommend carefully choosing one or two learning resources to keep your study time structured and fruitful. Here are some of the options you can consider for bringing up your French grammar level:
- Study with a French grammar book
- Join an online program, either an application or a learning website and make grammar fun
- Enlist a tutor for grammar lessons (try to find a native)
- Watch online grammar videos on useful topics to bring learning to life
The important thing to note when it comes to grammar is: don’t overface yourself. A little and often is the way to go.
Start watching French videos with subtitles
Learning French doesn’t have to be all about pouring over books, attending lessons and revising. If you want to know how to learn French on your own, we recommend finding ways to integrate French learning into every corner of your life – from writing your shopping list and scrolling through social media, to your evening screen time. Watching videos in French might be the best way to learn French, on your own and in group, without even realizing you’re doing it. Next time you take a sofa break, try using subtitles to bring some French learning to:
If you’re a beginner, try watching videos in your native language with French subtitles first to pick up some new vocabulary or turns of phrase. If you’re intermediate or advanced, dive straight into French programming with French subtitles – you’ll be surprised by how much you understand. Whatever your level is, you can be sure that this is one of the easiest ways to learn French.
Listen, listen, listen!
Language learning is composed of four key skills: reading; writing; listening; and speaking. Listening is often considered the most challenging of the four skills among learners, because it requires knowledge of accents and pronunciation, as well as grammar structures and vocabulary. However, it’s almost the most worthwhile skill to practice, because once you can easily follow French speakers, you’re ready to talk back! The best way to learn French on your own through listening is filling your ears with as much French as possible, to create a sense of immersion in the language. You can introduce French listening practice into your life through:
- Podcasts in French on French language, culture, news, etc.
- French music (also a good way for learning common expressions and slang)
- E-books from French authors at every level
- French radio (music, news, and discussion)
The important thing to remember is that understanding everything isn’t the obejctive – simply listen and your comprehension will grow. Audio media are finally very useful as they offer the possibility to learn the language while doing something else. For example, listening to songs and radio you can learn French while driving, listening to podcasts you can learn French while sleeping.
Travel in French-speaking countries
If you’re not fortunate enough to be learning French in a French-speaking country, you should at least try to plan a trip for the future. Not only is travelling in a country an excellent way to force yourself to practice a language with natives, but it also gives you a goal to work towards, which is essential when you’re figuring out how to learn French on your own.
Did you know that France isn’t the only destination for French learners? French can take you all around the world to countries including:
- France (obviously)
- Canada (Quebec and Montreal in particular)
Planning a trip and visiting one of these destinations will motivate you through your French lessons, and even spending only a few days in a native environment will do wonders for your confidence in French.
Find a native speaker to talk to
If you follow tip #5 and go to a French-speaking country, you’ll have no shortage of native speakers to improve your French level with, but how can you meet them? Luckily, there are lots of different ways to meet people when we travel nowadays, including:
- Meet up apps where you can get together with people with similar interests
- Language exchange events that involve speaking in French and English
- Dating apps (French is the language of love, after all)
Of course, if you can’t travel to a French-speaking country any time soon, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice with a French native. You can use online apps to connect with people all around the world either for casual conversation, a more formal language exchange, or as a tutor.
Widen your vocabulary by reading
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: vocabulary is key. If you really want to progress beyond beginner level, the best way to learn French on your own is simply to read, read, read.
If you’re already a bookworm, this one shouldn’t feel too much like hard work. However, for beginners in French it might be frustrating to find you can’t read nearly as quickly as you can in English or your own native language. That’s why it’s essential to choose books that suit your level in French, and not dive straight for the books you wish you could read, only to be discouraged.
There are two main methods when it comes to reading in a foreign language. Either, you can go for the detailed reading approach and seek to understand every sentence, isolating new verbs and structures where you find them. The downside to this technique is that you may find it difficult to follow the plot and become engrossed in your book. Otherwise, you can adopt a broad-strokes approach, skimming over the vocabulary you’re not familiar with and stopping only when you lose the meaning entirely.
How to learn French on your own through games
Did you know that you’re much more likely to stick with learning a new skill if you can find a way to make it fun? This is why incorporating games into your French study plan is essential. While we don’t recommend aiming to learn French entirely through games, they can be a great way to reinforce vocabulary and become more familiar with hearing and reading French.
Games also have the added benefit of being available whenever and wherever if you choose to play online. By downloading a free French gaming app on your phone, you can squeeze in a quick lesson on the bus or in between meetings.
Switch your phone into French
We’re all guilty of spending too much time on our phones, so why not find a way to learn something from it? Even French learners at beginner level can benefit from switching their phone settings into French, because most of us know what the options do by heart.
It may seem like a small change, but it’s small steps like these that help to acclimate your brain to understanding and interacting with new French words on a daily basis. Make the change – you won’t regret it!
The best way to learn French on your own: speak to yourself in French!
Our final tip on how to learn French on your own is to do exactly that: speak French on your own! If you’re a beginner, it’s important to build your confidence in French so that you’re ready for the next level: speaking with natives.
You can make everyday tasks a brief lesson in French and become your own tutor by narrating simple actions (“I’m going to take a shower, then I’ll put my pajamas on”) or practising your “about me” speech as you cook dinner.
Learn French by yourself with Global General
As you mull over how to learn French on your own, know that GlobalExam will be there to support you. Even as you embark on independent study, it always helps to know you have a good study structure to guide you and keep you motivated. Our Global General platform combines grammar and vocabulary lessons with listening activities to help you level up in French all by yourself. Plus, don’t forget that learning with us includes:
- Corrected exercises so you can check your own work
- Personalized comments by our tutors for constructive feedback
- Learning through games
Global General is a great solution for taking the books and lessons out of learning and making French fun.