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Learning a new language can seem like a daunting challenge and one that requires a big investment of time and money. But with the advent of the internet it’s never been easier to find ways to learn French on your terms — and that includes learning French for free. Today’s technology has opened up a world of opportunities and possibilities for those who want to learn, but with so many options, what method makes most sense for you?

If you want to learn French without having to pay, you have your fair share of options to choose from. Here are a couple popular ways to learn French for free:

  • Online courses, software, and apps

  • Language exchange/tandem learning with a native speaker

  • Media resources like podcasts, TV shows and movies

  • Library books and public resources

  • Immersion learning

There’s no right answer, and with so many choices, you can try to learn French for free in the way that works best for you.


The Many Ways To Learn French For Free

Online Courses And Apps

Lots of apps, software and online courses help you learn French for free and on your own schedule. The fact that many of these apps are mobile-based means you can take many of them along with you in your pocket wherever you go.

But be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. A lot of content in apps like Duolingo and Memrise or scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified. They are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with distracting ads.


Language Exchange And Tandem Partners

Because the goal of language learning is to be able to have real-life conversations with native speakers, it only makes sense that one of the best ways to practice French is with another living, breathing person. It’s especially great if you have a friend who is a native speaker of French to help you practice your skills, especially if that person wants to learn your native language. In tandem learning, you and your learning partner would have a reciprocal, back-and-forth dynamic where you both learn from and teach each other.

But asking a friend, family member or acquaintance to spend many hours helping you learn French for free might be a tough sell, especially if you’re not looking to offer money or language lessons in exchange. Just because someone is a native speaker of French doesn’t mean he or she is necessarily a great or willing teacher.

Media Resources

French podcasts, French playlists and French audiobooks are great ways to learn French for free passively while you trudge through your daily commute, cook dinner, or take a walk in your neighborhood. It’s easy to fit learning into your busy schedule when you’re doing it in the background of another activity. Luckily, there are lots of free audio resources to pick from. And when it comes to other more visual media like French TV shows and French movies, they can be just as helpful as audio resources, but they require more of your attention if you’re going to be reading subtitles and wanting to closely follow the plot of what you’re watching.

Media can be a great way to round out your language learning in a way that’s fun and engaging, and it’s especially practical because much of it helps you learn French for free. But keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it or reading words on a screen; you’ll need to supplement media with ways to practice writing and speaking French, too, especially in real-life conversations.

Library Books And Public Resources

If you have a library card, you open up a whole new way to learn, and often for free. Libraries are designed to make learning more accessible to the general public, and many of them have resources that make it easier to learn French for free — whether it’s through French language textbooks or just French literature of every level.

But textbooks and other learning materials might not be readily available at your local library, or you might not get enough time with them before it’s time to turn them back in. And that’s not to mention the fact that, depending on the size of your local library, the selection of resources to help you learn French for free might be limited to begin with. And if you don’t live near a library, it might not be a great option for you, either.

Immersion Learning

If you want to dive headfirst into learning French, there’s no doubt that immersion learning — putting yourself in a place where you’re forced to speak French regularly — is the way to go. Though it may be uncomfortable at first, you’ll be challenged to survive in an environment where most people don’t speak your native language, and you’ll make rapid progress in learning French when you have no other choice.

But it might be deceiving to say that immersion learning is completely free. In fact, once you factor in the costs of travel to a new locale, your housing accommodations (if you can’t crash with a friend or a host family for free) and all of the other miscellaneous costs associated with moving to a new place, you can’t really say that immersion learning is a totally free way to learn French.


How Learning French For Free Falls Short

When you learn French for free, you often sacrifice the quality of your learning experience. Sure, you might be able to recruit a native speaker to help you learn French for free, for example, but unless you’re paying for regular one-on-one tutoring sessions or a classroom learning experience, you can’t guarantee that you’re getting the best experience possible. And free books and software can only take you so far if you’re not having regular conversations with native speakers or teachers who can give you feedback.

Building any new skill, especially learning a new language, is an investment — and if you want to do it right, it often takes time, money and intention. That’s not to say these free resources and methods can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.

With the benefit of teams of language teachers and native speakers, products that charge money can offer a superior quality learning experience, broader content and more innovative teaching methods.


Learning French With Babbel


Babbel doesn’t promise you that you can learn French for free. But to fully make the most of your language learning journey, free software, apps and methods by themselves just won’t cut it. For a small and affordable subscription fee, Babbel helps you master a new language by offering the best learning technology available.

Learning French with Babbel is designed to be effective, engaging, fun and affordable. All of Babbel’s French content is created by more than 150 language-learning experts whose goal is to get you on the fastest track towards being conversational in Spanish — and with confidence.

Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning French — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition technology even helps you hone your pronunciation, too. And the Review feature takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, which brings back information in short bursts to help you remember it better. You can practice the terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.

With lessons that take 10 to 15 minutes to complete, you can fit them into your already busy schedule. It’s all designed with the learner in mind, making it an exceptional value for the money.

We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning French with Babbel. Try a French lesson today and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking French with confidence like you’ve always wanted to.