Language learners these days have so many resources at their disposal, from the traditional classroom setting to immersion programmes in the countries that speak the language they study.
Our ancestors had those selections as well, but they did not have web-based tools.
They had no opportunity to learn French online and, while they may have heard occasional broadcasts in French, there were no such things as podcasts in those days.
By comparison, our airwaves are saturated with a glut of language learning, and we have our choice of language courses for our listening pleasure.
How can anyone be expected to find a steady staple of quality French speaking out of that morass?
Let Superprof filter results of the series of podcasts available for the beginner, the intermediate French speaker and for those who understand advanced French. All to help you along in your French lessons.
Read about finding your ideal online French teacher.
Learning the Language via Podcast
The thing about learning French in particular is that resources abound! In print and online, you'll find no lack of French learning materials, especially as compared to many other languages.
The key to effective learning would then boil down to what suits your learning style.
We hope you will find a gem or two in these...
First, a disclaimer: Innovative Languages publishes language 'pods' in Spanish, in Chinese, in Italian... in 34 different languages. Thus we cannot call it a site dedicated exclusively to the French language.
However, each language they present has its own web address, denoted by the language name, followed by pod101.
Why 'pod', you wonder? Hint: it has nothing to do with a figurative pea pod...
Podcasts were originally meant for download exclusively to Apple products, specifically the Ipod.
These days, you can listen to podcasts on any device you want.
With that in mind, you can download any and all of FrendPod's casts, to listen to and replay at your leisure.
When you create your account, the first question you will be asked is what your level of French is. The selection runs from absolute beginner to advanced.
From there, you would have your choice of learning paths, organised into topics.
For example, you might choose Mastering Level 1 French and, starting at Lesson 1, you would progress through all of the lessons until that module is finished.
This linear progression learning method is optional. You may also skip around until you find exactly where you need to be, and start your learning from there.
Everything on FrenchPod101 is downloadable: the audio, the video and the lesson notes.
Indeed, they thoughtfully provide notes for every installment that you can keep and refer back to.
Isn't that considerate of them?
News In Slow
This podcast series uploads a new topic weekly, generally dealing with some current event.
Their pages are well organised, providing links to the various features they offer, such as a grammar overview, and a list of expressions used in the audio discussion.
There is also a series of flashcards available for download!
At the very top of the page, you would select what level you can understand French at, and then it is just a matter of applying yourself to the materials at hand.
What if you are beyond beginner French but don't quite understand intermediate?
The best part about News in Slow is that they discuss current events so, even if you don't catch every word, there is a good chance you know something about the topic at hand.
Besides, that gives you more new language to study!
One major difference between FrenchPod and News in Slow is the emphasis on French grammar.
FrenchPod's philosophy is that absorbing grammar will be the inevitable result of hearing French conversation.
News in Slow dedicates an entire page, linked to each lesson, in order to expound on grammar particulars for that podcast.
If you are the type of language learner who needs to assimilate language mechanics in order to grasp language functionality, this would be an important distinction for you.
If you are more of a free agent, you might appreciate this next French site...
Talk in French
This is more of a freestyle, random topic podcast site. Unlike the others discussed thus far, it tends to be targeted more toward advanced French speakers, and it does not provide a transcript, or lesson for lesson grammar page.
It does include a grammar notebook, free for download when you subscribe.
If you are at intermediate level or higher, this would be a great podcast to listen to, even if you don't yet know all of the vocabulary.
By listening to this fluent narrative, you could really train your ear to pick up French slang expressions, also known as verlan.
If you are ready to jump into advanced language and culture discussions, this might be the best podcast for you!
Although it is subscription based, there are a number of sample podcasts you can listen to for free, just to see if it would be a good fit.
On those free podcast pages, you may take advantage of their free French learning package!
A Word on Podcasts
Before we continue with our list of best French podcasts, let us go over some benefits of podcasts in general.
Some people who learn language cannot see the point in exercising only one aspect of French study – listening comprehension, while being given no chance to speak French themselves.
That is a valid point. After all, nobody has ever asked 'Can you listen to French?'.
The question is usually 'Can you speak French?'
Nevertheless, there are tremendous benefits to be had in subscribing to an effective, intimate means of immersion into the French language, such as:
- portability – you can download a segment and take it with you
- time-efficient: listen to podcasts while doing other things, such as household chores.
- Money-saving: you would have to go to a classroom or abroad to get this level of immersion
- personal: The French language goes directly into your ears, if you use earbuds, or surrounds you if you play it in your car
- on-demand: you do not have to tune in for your next lesson, or rush to any class. Podcasts will be there, ready for you to download and make use of, whenever you want them.
All of these make excellent points for podcasts, but them being on demand is really the clincher, isn't it?
That, coupled with the fact that most French podcasts we've investigated come with transcripts, grammatical notes, lists of new words and phrases, exercises and quizzes make this type of learning essential for the serious student of French.
Rounding Out the Top Ten
Daily French Pod originates in France, and covers a variety of topics, from sniffling to China's relationship with France.
Each segment comes with a downloadable transcript, a French vocabulary list and an exercise page. They are most suited to beginners.
These French lessons are by subscription only.
Another French for beginners podcast is Podcast Français Facile.
Perhaps the best aspect of this site is that the lessons are organised according to your level of fluency, as ranked by the French proficiency exam structure of the DELF.
The possible downside is that the entire page is in French. As it is meant for beginners, there might be some difficulty navigating it.
French etc. is in English, but the topics discussed are in conversational French.
All topics are narrated by a native speaker of French, and are preceded by a short lesson in grammar.
You can practice your spoken French by reading along with the transcript as your francophone host speaks.
The bar at the top gives you the option of choosing what level of French you can understand, and even offers a dictation exercise.
If you have trouble with French verbs, there is a page to help make the subject clearer.
There is a measure of free study materials, but a subscription will give you access to premium learning tools.
To get away from language lessons, our final recommendation is to listen to news commentators discussing current events in French.
France Info News specialises in informative reporting, often adding humour and satire to their broadcast.
If you are more advanced in your French studies, listening to these personalities is sure to give you an in-depth understanding of the history and culture of France.
Even if you are not quite so advanced in your French learning, listening to these podcasts will introduce you to the rhythm and flow of French words, as spoken by someone whose native language is French.
There are so many online resources available for online French learning that we could not possibly review and critique them all.
However, we can direct you to a summary page with links to relevant podcasts, so that you might try them out for yourself, and select the best ones for your learning needs.
We accept your heartfelt merci!
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