If your dream is to travel or live in France or you live in an area where you hear a lot of French, you might be ready to hit the books. But when taking on the task of studying French, not just any language learning book will do. That's why we searched for the best French learning books online and compiled them into a top 10 list.
Begin with our top pick: Basic French by Practice Makes Perfect. It guides you through the basics of the French language with plenty of exercises to apply your newfound knowledge. And if that doesn't suit you, there are nine other options to choose from, as well as a buying guide to help you search on your own!
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Table of Contents
There are many French learning tools available to assist you in learning the language. With so many options, you may feel lost with where to begin and how to find the right book that will suit you. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one!
French is widely spoken around the world. The language is influenced by culture and gains its own personality depending on the region where it is spoken. Discover the different kinds of French and determine which one you are planning to learn. This is to ensure that you pick up the right book for your studies in French!
European French is spoken in Paris, France. It is also known as Metropolitan French and is known as the standard French or international French. This is the type of French that is used on most media platforms, like in movies and on the radio.
There are two types of Canadian French: French spoken in Quebec (Québécois French) and Acadian French, which is spoken in the coastal areas of Canada. In writing, it is similar to the standard Parisian French. The difference lies in the pronunciations and accents.
French is also spoken in many parts of Africa, like Algeria, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. African French is influenced by many African languages, which makes it unique.
For example, in Algeria, the French that they speak have heavy Arabic influence. This is interesting to explore because you get to see how culture influences language.
There is an international standard called the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) which classifies language proficiency on a six-point scale. You can find out your level by taking one of the tests here.
This test was made by the Centre international d'études pédagogiques, or CIEP, (the International Center for Educational Studies). Knowing where you're at is important when you're determining which French learning book will suit your French level.
The pre-A1 level, or A0, is for beginners that will be starting from scratch and will be working towards the level of A1. When you reach A1-A2, you are familiar with basic phrases and sentences or everyday expressions in French.
French learning books for these levels will focus on teaching basic dialogue and help you communicate basic information. Some examples are introducing yourself, answering how old you are, where you live, and where you come from.
If you are classified at this level, it means that you can understand complex conversations or convey your thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Books at this level will focus on longer texts and more dialogues that deal with abstract ideas.
This is the highest level, which means you have a proficient grasp of the French language. This means you are at ease when conversing with a native speaker, both of you understanding each other without difficulty.
Context and implicit meanings can be understood by learners at this level. Books for this level assume that you have a clear grasp of the French language.
Some learners are visual learners, some are auditory learners, some learn best through reading, and others find applied learning (or learning through a practical application) suits them best. Know what type of learner you are as well as which combination of learning styles suits you best.
Look for books that cater to your learning style. For example, if you are an auditory learner, you can look for a French book that includes an audio CD or online materials with many recordings. On the other hand, if you prefer applied learning, choose a French book that has a lot of practical exercises.
The learning materials available all have various approaches and methodologies of teaching French. Think about what your target is and what specifically about the French language you would like to learn to help you narrow down your choices and pick the right book!
Look for books that focus on colloquial language and everyday scenarios. Some examples are introducing oneself, grocery dialogues, customer service dialogues, traveling scenes, or even banking scenarios.
These books usually have a casual approach to teaching French. They sometimes include lists of words to help you expand your vocabulary.
These kinds of books tackle conjugations, tenses, and word order or syntax. These are more academic in structure and technical in their approach. They typically include exercises to ensure that you have the grammatical structure down and can apply what you learn.
Reading a language is usually different from speaking it. Word choices differ in the spoken and the written language. Writing is typically more formal, so textbooks that focus on this area are often more formal and academic as a result.
Learning to read a language is helpful to increase your comprehension, and in turn, your writing skill. This will be especially helpful if you are planning to study in that language.
French learning textbooks may include an audio CD to help build your listening skills. Some books include a dictionary of terms at the end that help expand your vocabulary.
Some books also include links to online sources like instructional videos to go along with the lessons in the book. These extra features will help you build your French skills, depending on what kind of approach you prefer.
Children’s books use simple language and repeat basic phrases and words throughout the story. This is helpful for building vocabulary and to help practice comprehension. Because of its structure, you will easily pick up phrases and reading will help you understand the context and application of French words.
If you get tired of studying through textbooks, this is a fun way to practice your French!
Click to purchase
A Beginner-Friendly Guide for French Learners
French All-in-One for Dummies
An Extensive and Comprehensible French Learning Book
The Berlitz Self-Teacher: French
An Immersive Book for Learning French
Myrna Bell Rochester
Easy French Step-by-Step
A Slow but Sure Guide to Learning French
Pamela Rose Haze
French Made Simple
An All-Inclusive Guidebook to the Basics of French
Complete French Grammar
A Focus on the Fundamentals of French Grammar
An Informative Approach to French Conversations
Fluent in French
A Book on Tips and Techniques to Studying French
Easy French Phrase Book
A Guide to Everyday French Phrases
French: Short Stories for Beginners
A Compilation of French Stories for Beginners
This book provides grammar lessons in bite-sized lessons. It introduces only one grammar point per chapter and provides examples so you can fully understand how it works. It's also full of exercises you can do to apply what you're learning.
Learners appreciated that the book relies on applicable learning rather than memorization. They liked the simple yet instructional grammar lessons. They also praised it for gradually building on previously taught lessons, which helped them review and increase their understanding.
However, some learners felt that the book is too basic. They said the lessons are short and sometimes wanted further explanations. If you want to enhance your learning experience, you can use the accompanying app to listen to recordings or practice using the flashcards provided.
This book is a comprehensive guide to learning French. It includes the fundamentals of French grammar and comes with an audio CD with listening exercises. It's a beginner-friendly book and contains a lot of valuable information for first-timers, including notes on Canadian French.
Reviewers found this book to be an enjoyable way of learning French. They liked how it clearly explains concepts and offers information to learners without overloading them with technicalities.
However, some users had issues with the eBook. They had problems downloading the worksheets and zooming in on the smaller fonts. Still, the majority of learners agreed that this book is a great start to learning French.
This book does not use memorization in order to teach its readers how to speak French. Instead, it contains hands-on lessons that guide learners in French. It also includes oral exercises and phonetic pronunciation of French words to help learners with delivery.
Learners appreciated the Berlitz method as it gave them an immersive experience. Being taught in the target language was able to help them analyze it by thinking in French. They also appreciated the exercises and the pictures that helped enhance learning.
However, some reviewers found that this book uses older French words that are no longer used today. Still, it was praised for its instructional method and is well-suited for self-studying.
With this book, you'll learn grammar in order of importance as well as the most frequently used verbs in French. It also offers exercises to help you retain what you're studying.
Learners loved the basic grammar lessons and said they are very useful for learning to write and read French. This book has a lot of fun lessons and exercises.
Several reviewers warned that this book might not be suited for absolute beginners, though, and is best utilized by people who have taken a French class before.
This book teaches the basics of French, including components on grammar, vocabulary, and culture. It also helps readers master the lessons through repetition in the exercises provided, and is especially helpful for business professionals.
Learners praised this book for its extensive content. They liked that it's geared towards adult and intermediary learners, while also covering a lot of basics.
Although reviewers generally liked this book, some pointed out that it's difficult to learn pronunciations since it doesn't have an audio component. It's best used alongside classes or lessons.
This book encourages practice. It tackles verb tenses, grammar, and pronunciation. It also has an accompanying app where you can access flashcards and audio recordings to aid in your learning.
Readers liked the thorough explanations in the book as well as the exercises and end-of-chapter quizzes. The list of verbs and commonly used expressions was also helpful for many learners.
A few reviewers complained about the quality of the paper in the book, saying it's very thin and not suited for highlighting.
This book teaches learners how to converse in French. It includes a free audio download to help with pronunciation and listening practices. It also gives explanations and context on where to use the phrases taught.
Learners liked the practicality of this book. They loved how the book is able to combine vocabulary training with simple sentence structure in its lessons.
A handful of reviewers said this book is difficult for beginners. However, many appreciate it as an excellent reference book when traveling in French-speaking countries!
This book will help keep your motivation up with its variety of helpful language learning tips. In addition to French lessons, it includes advice on how to form daily habits that foster learning.
Readers liked the tips this book offers. It gave beginners advice on how to approach learning French. They also liked the friendly tone of the book, which puts the readers at ease when learning.
Some readers complained that this book is more about how to learn French rather than learning French itself. Reviewers agreed that this book is for learners who feel overwhelmed with the idea of learning a new language and would want some tips on how to self-study French.
This book offers a variety of helpful advice on how to have natural conversations in French. It includes helpful phrases that you can use in everyday life as well as a detailed guide on French phonetics.
Readers loved the thorough pronunciation guide in this book, saying it's incredibly helpful. Some noted that this is a great book to take on holiday to France, but less helpful for the serious learner.
This book includes entertaining short stories in French. With it, you can learn basic French language structure and vocabulary. Each short story also has a comprehension quiz at the end, that you can use to test yourself.
Readers said this book is an excellent tool to use to improve language comprehension. They also liked the audio downloads, which they said helped with pronunciation.
A few reviewers noted that the English translations were awkward or incomplete, but many really liked this book as a refreshing learning tool!
Do you feel that learning a new language can be a little intimidating? It may seem so at the start, but check out our other articles to help you find the right learning tools to help you study a language!
No. 1: Eliane Kurbegov｜Basic French
No. 2: Consumer Dummies｜French All-in-One for Dummies
No. 3: Berlitz Editors｜The Berlitz Self-Teacher: French
No. 4: Myrna Bell Rochester｜Easy French Step-by-Step
No. 5: Pamela Rose Haze｜French Made Simple
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