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How to Learn French While Studying Abroad: 5 Practical Tips For Fast & Effective Learning

You finally have the chance to study abroad in a French-speaking country and you have one question in mind: how to become fluent in French? 

Studying a language abroad is definitely an effective way to immerse yourself in the language and feel connected to the local culture. You are naturally learning something new every day. However, let’s not forget that a language also entails structure, rules, and exceptions.

With the right combination of valuable tools, dedication and a proactive attitude, not only will you learn French quickly but you will set solid fundamentals to build on what you have learned and continue your journey towards fluency even after you go back to your country.

This article will propose several strategies that will help you to learn French quickly during and after your study abroad experience. There are endless options out there, but part of what makes a tool effective is understanding what kind of learner you are and which method you are most comfortable with.

Here are some tips on how to learn French fast and how to become fluent in French. Go through them and choose what’s best for you and most importantly enjoy your journey to fluency!

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1. Textbooks & Lessons

Let's start with the basics. A comprehensive book is a blessing, especially if you are a beginner.

Rather than listing book titles, I thought it would be more useful to pinpoint some established publishers that offer a variety of material to help you learn French quickly. 

CLE International, for example, is specialized in teaching French and has great valuable lessons, exercise books, and audio material. One example is “Grammaire progressive du français”, which goes through all levels step by step. More titles are available on their website. 

Hachette is another well-known publisher. They have a collection that is equivalent to the one offered by CLE, called “Français Langue Etrangère”. What’s interesting is that they offer specialized language learning material for people in a specific industry, or for those needing to practice Business French. It can help you become fluent in French with a certain emphasis. 

Want to switch to something more interactive once you go abroad? You might want to check out Alliance Francais, an international organization that promotes the French language and culture. With more than 1000 locations around the world, they provide free books, resources, and classes for learners of all ages. They also host cultural events and workshops and can make for a great connection source while you are abroad. If you're curious about how to learn French fast and free, try out this tool. 

Make sure to check the closest branch to you on their website.

2. Grammar and Spelling Checking Tools

Having solid grammar and spelling foundations will help you learn French quickly and to become fluent in French in the future. It’s important to keep your grammar and spelling in check especially if you are emailing professors, or texting your new French-speaking friends.

There are plenty of tools online that can help you with this, but one in particular stands out for being a reliable source. BonPatron, created by university professors and linguistic researchers, can help you avoid embarrassing mistakes during your experience abroad.

While this tool aims to help you become fluent in French, it is in no way meant to be a corrector, and you should rather use it as a research tool. Ultimately only native speakers can tell you if what you write in French reflects the message you want to convey and if it is coherent in French or not. 

3. Pronunciation Checker

There is no better way to be fluent in French than talking to a native speaker but if you need more practice on your own or if you don't have the chance to meet French speakers before going abroad you can find a few tools that can help you learn French quickly.

It’s especially true for French, given the abundance of silent letters, glidings, liaison etc. Not to mention that the liaisons are different, pronouns and articles seem to disappear and… you get the point.

There is a Google Chrome extension, an effective tool to learn French fast and free, that allows you to record your voice and compare it to that of a native speaker. Not only that but you can even transcribe audio files and input speech for real-time translation into another language.

Another viable option is to just use your Phone. With any recording app like Rev, you can record your voice. To hear a native speaker’s pronunciation of that same sentence, you can navigate to a website like Forvo, the biggest French Audio dictionary where, among other things, you can ask people to pronounce words for you. 

Ever watched a video on YouTube or listened to a song but can’t exactly grasp all the words? Rhinospike will transcribe audio and video files for you. Learn French quickly while you have fun!

4. Online French Courses & Podcasts

If you are a visual or auditory learner, this option might be the quickest way to learn French. An online course can take you from Beginner to Fluency by using a wide range of tools like audio and video lessons, flashcards, e-books and so on.

Online Courses are also the best option to learn French quickly if you have a busy schedule and prefer to set your own deadlines and study from anywhere at your own pace. If your goal is purely to talk to native speakers, an app like HelloTalk or HiNative can help you direct any questions you have to those who can answer them the best.

What if self-studying is not for you? There are online courses that offer 1-to-1 lessons with native teachers that will support you step by step with a personalized approach, like FrenchPod101.

Ultimately, it’s about what works best for you, but keeping online learning out of the equation would be a mistake as it’s the most convenient learning tool for travelers and people to learn French quickly .

5. Connect with Locals!

One of the last tips on how to learn French fast is to connect with native speakers. Regardless of which tools you will choose, don't forget that studying abroad is a precious opportunity to become fluent in French. To make the most of your experience, forget about English, get involved in academic activities and clubs in your local community. 

It’s a great way to avoid falling into the “English trap” of making only international friends when you go abroad. Immersing yourself in the culture around you can always help you learn French quickly. 

One way to do this is by looking for events on apps like Meetup. This app offers you the chance to look for groups of people with the same interests as you (sport, art, music, business, technology, dancing and more) and join their events. 

Final Thoughts

If you make the effort to be an involved learner and put into practice what the more academic tools listed above have taught you, you could become fluent in French.

And Remember that learning starts even before you leave and continues once you are back!

These tools can help you stay on track at any given point in your learning journey. Get out of your comfort zone, enjoy your study abroad and use a wide range of tools to make the best out of your experience and learn French quickly.


About the Author

Graziana is a marketing coordinator at Innovative Language Learning, an online language learning program teaching 34 languages, including French at FrenchPod101.com. Since 2005, Innovative Language has been teaching learners to speak a new language with fast, fun, and easy audio/video lessons by real teachers.


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Last update: 21 Sep 2021

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