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Learn Your French for Free, Part Un

January 16, 2012

Paris cafe at Place du Terte

Sometimes you just need to change up the practice, do an exercise or two in short bursts, quickly learn a new word to keep the interest up or whatever else.  The fastest, cheapest way possible is online.

For the Newbies:

Start with YouTube.  There is a lot of ish on YouTube, but sometimes on a good day when the lights flicker four times, the chatter on Twitter hushes to a whisper and all the Internet’s cat videos simultaneously step to one side to clear a path, you might just be able to maybe find something really useful on YouTube.

With that said, this is not the best of the best of French tutorial YouTube videos.  The Travel Linguist is a great start for hearing and seeing some really useful phrases, but they won’t make much sense until you start to learn the language and discover that “ne” and “pas” are both negatives in a phrase such as “je ne sais pas” (“I don’t know”).  Give it a whirl!  They’ve got lots of videos and different levels.

For the Slang Lovers:

This is the perfect follow up to The Travel Linguist.  Jennifer, the author of, is quite the accomplished scholar with plenty of French and linguistics studies to her knowledge and years spent living in France.  Her site is excellent for learning French as it is spoken on the street as well as learning the proper sentence structure, or rather, how it’s written.

As a complement to The Travel Linguist, you can first learn the important phrases, then Jennifer will break it down with native speakers showing how the written word goes from “je ne sais pas” down the ever-shorter slang line to eventually end up as the ultra-relaxed “ché pas.”

For the dual language learners like myself, she even has French and German side by side so you can learn both words at the same time.  And probably the coolest feature of all is her ‘realia’ section where she has photo albums of real signs, receipts, menus and more from 11 different countries for the most authentic practice ever.

French ice cream menu

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