Learning French

French is one of the world’s most useful languages. There are approximately 1.6 million speakers (first and second language) all around the world. It is an official language in France, Canada, as well as other parts of Europe and Africa. In addition, it is one of the most common languages used in international organizations like the Red Cross.

Luckily, French is a relatively easy language for English speakers to pick up and there are lots of resources online to help you learn.

According to the Defense Language Institute (DLI) which trains French linguists for the US government, French is a Category I language, the easiest category. It takes approximately 700 hours to reach a conversational level in French – as little as 6 months.

Below are some resources that can help you. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a tool used to measure language learning. A 6 month DLI course is designed to reach B2; A1 and A2 are beginner levels, B1 and B2 are intermediate and C1 and C2 are advanced levels of proficiency.


Duolingo will teach you approximately 1500 words of French and have you practice reading and writing in an online environment, though it won’t do much for your listening or speaking.

French Headstart2 teaches about 750 words related to the military and government.


Coursera Learn French B1/B2 is a course designed to help you move from the lower levels to the intermediate levels in French, in a grouped study format. You study online but you’re starting and finishing the course at a specified time along with other attendees.

Ultimate French Beginner/Intermediate is a textbook/DVD combo I found very helpful when I was learning French. It covers approximately 2000 words along with pronunciation tools and flashcards.

You might also find changing your phone, laptop, and other software into French in order to move into the advanced level.

French in Action is a 50 video series taught in full speed spoken French in order to build advanced learning comprehension.


When it comes to advanced French, books and other resources might help but only conversing with native speakers will help. 2 hours a day for a year is all it takes though, and you can get there soon enough. Bonne chance!

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