Mobile Device Apps
There are a variety of French learning apps for mobile phones and other mobile devices. The great thing is that users are able to see how the community rates a particular app before its downloaded. Some of the apps turn out to be poorly done while others are ‘starter’ apps designed to encourage you to buy the full product. However, there are still apps available for free that prove useful. For iPhone, some of these include:
* Mindsnacks French
* Free French Audio
* SpeakEasy French
There are a variety of apps and podcasts – it’s just a matter of sorting through them all to find what works for you.
French In Action Videos
All of the videos have been posted free (courtesy of a grant). Although the printed materials aren’t presented, it’s very helpful to watch the videos and follow the dialogue in an immersion environment.
RFI Apprendre Ie trancals Site
RFI does a great job or providing numerous resources on their site relates to French learning. Try listening to the 20 minutes easy news (which is intermediate to advanced intermediate) whenever you can. The script is also provided for free. Other than that, there are free games, resources, and other helpful items for learning the French language.
About.com – French
This site is an amazing, free resource. It has conjugated every verb in every tense, has great articles, tips for learning, free French lessons, free grammar explanations, everything you can possibly imagine. I highly recommend this site to everyone because it’s also community-based. It also does a great job of providing links to other resources on the web for learning French.
Quizlet Flash Cards
There are a variety of free apps (iPhone/Android) and websites that feature flashcards for memorization and retention. A personal favorite (site) of mine is Quizlet. It allows you to create flashcards but also has language-specific keyboards that pop-up.
This is an app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. It also has a corresponding website, so you’re able to listen to radio stations from around the world both on your mobile device and browser. One of the stations my students listen to is RTL. Specifically, they have a morning program that is two-hours long but covers a variety of topics (e.g. world news, sports, horoscope, humor). All of the programs on RTL can be downloaded as free pod casts from iTunes or the RTL site itself.
There are a variety of free French pod casts that are available for download; both from your mobile phone and on the Internet. Some helpful ones include:
* News in Slow French
* RTL’s “A la Bonne Heure” morning program
* RFI “Journal en francais facile
* Radio Japan “French News”
Free College Courses
Over the past few years, prominent universities have been posting free courses from previous academic years to the Internet for all. For example, MIT has a site called OpenCourseware where French I and French” course materials, lectures, and syllabus from 2004 are offered for free. Essentially, you have the entire semester of classes at your disposal from a professor for self-study. Other well-known universities who have followed suit:
* MIT Open Courseware: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
* Carnegie Mellon OpenLearning: http://oILweb.cmu.edu/openlearning/
* University of California at Berkeley: http://webcast.berkeley.edu/
* Stanford University ITunesU: http://itunes.stanford.edu/
* Tufts OpenCourseware: http://ocw.tufts.edu/
* Johns Hopkins OpenCourseware: http://ocw.jhsph.edu/
Free Online Books
Google Books, Project Gutenberg, Archive.org and Amazon Kindle Store (to name a few) all have books that are free due to copyright expiration. Although older, there are a variety of French books from the 1920’s and 1930’s that feature short stories, fairy tales, grammar lessons, and grammar drills. Although they are old, books from this time period are (for the most part) an interesting read for French students. Since they didn’t have the benefit of TV or computers, authors had to explain concepts in a manner that a variety of readers could understand. There are many free books at all levels that often include French paragraphs immediately followed by English.
Mobile Phone & Computer Language
This can initially be a horrifying experience but it can do much to help your vocabulary. Change the language settings on your phone and personal computer to French. There are a variety of commands and prompts that appear on both devices that help with learning every-day French language. Not only do you learn the phrase but you can often extract the verb and when to use it. For example:
* Appels recus
* Creer un nouveau contact
* Ajouter a un contact
* Messages supprimes
Google Translate App and Site
This is an app that is available for both iPhone and Android. They’ve improved the functionality tremendously over the past year. You can speak or write an English phrase into the app and it will speak the French phrase in a human voice back to you or vice versa. This is extremely helpful during translation or when you are trying to figure out whether or not the sentence you’re thinking about is correct. It also provides “on-the-fly” translation help, which is useful over the course of the day.
Oh the joys of YouTube. There is SO MUCH stuff on YouTube that can help with French from video courses to French TV shows to TV shows dubbed in French to interviews etc etc etc. The world is really your oysters here and there are a variety of uses. It’s often helpful to pick a hobby or topic of interest. For example, if you enjoy classical music, there are a variety of interviews with opera singers, maestros, orchestra members, etc that are easier to understand. Additionally, there are some children’s programs like French Sesame Street and other cartoons that can be seen.
The Bible in French
There are quite a few free translations of the Bible into French that are available for both mobile, Kindle, and PC devices. An easy search through app stores or the Kindle Site will bring them up. Since there are certain Bible stories that many Americans grew up with, it is really helpful to read them in French since you already have an understanding of what happens. Putting the pieces together becomes much easier when it comes to words that you don’t initially know.
It’s possible to find pen pals and video-conference with each other. You can either speak or chat in French as well. There are a variety of paid services that incorporate Skype into their French tutoring. However, there are also a variety of websites that pair people up (e.g. Someone who wants to learn French with someone who wants to learn English). In some of these scenarios, everything is free because both parties are trying to learn the other’s language.
I teach in Pentagon City. I am metro accessible via the blue and yellow lines. I also tutor via Skype.