It is unlikely that anyone would decide to learn French in a fit of pique, or as an act of exoneration.
Studying French as a conciliatory gesture, on the other hand, is not entirely out of the question.
Any irrational reasons for learning the language of Molière aside, most people make a conscious decision to broaden their horizons by learning French a second language for a specific reason:
- they are aware of the health and financial benefits of being bilingual
- they often sojourn in France or any other French speaking country, and feel they should move beyond bonjour and merci before their next trip
- they intend to work in a great fashion house in Paris, or any other French business
- they are foodies: in pursuit of the perfect cuisine, they need to know how to read in French to follow gourmet recipes.
For these reasons among others, more and more people are looking for French lessons online, in their community or at a language learning centre.
Let us ignore the uneasy reports proclaiming lesser focus on learning any foreign language in British schools.
Any francophone will tell you that opportunities to learn French abound!
From French lessons online and language apps that anyone can use between lessons to practise their language skills, to language schools promoting French language and culture, all you need is a sincere desire to learn!
In no way are we minimising the accomplishments of anyone who has invested years in learning French vocabulary.
Becoming fluent in French is no easy task, and takes careful consideration of several aspects.
For that reason, we offer this complete list of points to ponder before endeavouring to learn the French language.
En route, les troupes!
How Much Do French Lessons Cost?
Perhaps one of the first considerations prospective French learners contemplate is cost.
Indeed, that is a legitimate concern!
To give you a frame of reference: language learning is a lifelong pursuit.
When thought of in that way, one can fairly hear one's pocketbook groaning at the outlay of a lifetime of French lessons!
Naturally, the matter need not be so dire.
If you are an absolute beginner at learning French, it stands to reason that you should budget for lessons.
You might argue: in light of the wealth of free French lessons online, why would anyone pay for a French teacher?
How would anyone know whether those materials are correct? And how can you measure your performance and progress, with no feedback or input from anyone experienced in teaching the language?
By no means are we saying that everything online is worthless. Quite the contrary! There is tremendous value to be had in flashcards and chat partners whose native language is French.
However, we maintain that, to learn French quickly and effectively, with equal attention to all four aspects of language learning – reading, writing, speaking and listening, the best way to learn French would be to engage in formal lessons.
Especially at the outset of your language learning adventure!
Where can you find such lessons, outside of secondary school? And how much does each french lesson cost?
Learn French Pronunciation with a France-based Concern
If you live in London – or any of the 13 major cities where such an office operates, L'Alliance Française offers language lessons in beginner French, all the way to advanced French.
If you choose French lessons online through L'Alliance, each hour of instruction would cost £52, provided you visit their office. Should you need a tutor in your home, they command £58.
If you and a few mates wish to study French together, you could book your in-office group sessions at £60.
If you would rather your French instructor come to your home – or someone in the group's domicile, that price jumps to £68 per one hour lesson.
Note: these prices are only a guideline; you should direct yourself to your local branch of the Alliance to find out the prices in your area.
Should you not have an Alliance branch nearby in order to partake of French lessons; you could attend a language school!
Learn French through a Private Organisation
Mastering la langue française is possible with any language learning concern that employs French teachers; Cactus is a fine case in point.
Their teaching corps consists of avid travelers and native speakers of the tongue they teach, whose only goal is to share their passion for language with as many people as possible.
Their syllabus promotes a 10-week beginners course in French, periodically throughout the year, all across the UK.
They also teach French at more advanced levels, should you already have grasped basic French vocabulary and are ready to move on to intermediate words and phrases.
Should you not have ten weeks worth of evenings to spare in pursuit of perfection in French, you may consider their 5-week, intensive programme that covers the same material.
Or, you could marry your next French holiday to their immersion programme!
Immersing yourself in the language and culture of France, surrounded by those whose mother tongue is French, is arguably the best way to learn how to parler français!
Should none of these options fit into your calendar (or budget), you may talk with them about working with an in-home tutor.
Some language learners feel more confident, and learn faster, with one to one attention from a dedicated instructor.
You should regularly check their website or sign up for alerts because they always run promotions and offer discounts on most all of their learning programmes.
Whereas Cactus has several learning options, Language Trainers are much more straightforward with their programmes.
Whether you wish to study French in their offices or at your home, purchasing ten hours of lessons will cost £49 per hour.
If you are perfectly happy meeting your French tutor via Skype, your hourly cost would be £28 per hour.
The more hours you pay for up front, the greater the discount.
For example: if you opt for their most popular package, 30 hours of lessons, your hourly cost would be reduced to £35 per hour for face to face instruction.
It goes without saying that no French course would be complete without study materials, so your tutor will be sure to recommend the proper materials to maximise your learning.
Teachers are, by nature, a passionate group, most of whom hold a professional – and maybe even a personal goal of helping your succeed.
However, not every passionate teacher leads a traditional classroom.
You may find a tutor for your French learning needs on Gumtree or Freeads, but with no ratings left by previous students, how will you know what that teacher's methodology and success rate is?
Superprof has more than 2,000 French tutors, just waiting for your call, ready to leap into action and ensure you can utter everything from French greetings to grammatical constructs correctly.
If your best French phrases are greeted with puzzled glances, perhaps your spoken French needs more work.
If you are confused about when to use the formal pronoun, vous, or are stymied over French verbs' 23 tenses, your Superprof tutor will undoubtedly set the record straight.
At an average cost of £15 for each hour of instruction, that is a type of language course that would be hard to beat!
To summarise the subject of lessons cost, please reference this handy table:
|Name||In Office||In Your Home||Online|
|Alliance Française||£52||£58||Average £46|
|Superprof||(in a mutually agreed location) |
|Average £15||Average £15|
Language schools, textbooks, tutors, immersion learning: how can you find the teacher who will guide you through the complexities of learning French?
How to Find the Right French Teacher for Your Learning Needs
Have you ever had a teacher who neglected your learning needs? Who was attentive only to his/her preferred students, and left you feeling like you are not capable of learning?
Finding a french teacher who is attuned to your learning style and flexible in her delivery methods; who is responsive to the subtle clues that you are sinking, rather than swimming along with the lesson, is no mean feat.
It is of utmost importance to seek a French instructor whose teaching style matches your criteria exactly.
Especially seeing as you are paying for this instructor's time and knowledge out of your own pocket!
The first step in winnowing down the list of available teachers is to determine where you are at in your learning.
Do you need someone with experience teaching French for beginners?
Or have you taken French lessons before, and just need help sharpening your dialogue – deciphering a newfangled turn of phrase you heard during a podcast, and learning how to use it?
Are you preparing to sit French A Levels or DELF?
Will your teacher be instructing you or other adults, or did you want your children to learn how to speak French?
No matter who you want the French lessons for, you must hold out for a teacher who is:
- has a passion for learning and for life
- the ability to see things from alternate perspectives, and explain subject matter in different ways
able to adapt methodology to students' needs
Let us hope you do not encounter any teachers such as the one who, upon her pupils' sniggering at some funny-sounding French words, went into a rampage, throwing textbooks about and proclaiming their naughtiness at the top of her lungs!
It should go without saying that, besides the list of personality traits any instructor must embody, another essential quality a teacher must have is a firm grasp on the subject matter.
Imagine asking your teacher a question about grammatical gender: why some objects are assigned masculine articles and some are feminine.
What are the rules for determining how objects are assigned their gender?
To these valid questions, you are promptly treated to an off-putting reply: we'll cover that later! Or: you'll understand as we go along.
If you, like so many other French learners, cannot find the logic in French grammatical gender, perhaps this page might help you.
How to Determine if a Teacher is Right for You
Anyone can sift through a bevy of adverts, read French teachers' bios and lists of qualifications. What really matters is talking with that teacher, one on one.
Interviewing prospective French teachers is a most sensible step before engaging anyone for your French courses, no matter if you will learn French online or welcome them to your home.
The qualifications question of teachers leading a classroom is moot, as the school or learning centre will have vetted each instructor prior to them teaching the first lesson.
Naturally, you would ask the obvious questions of experience and qualifications. But then, it would also be a good idea to ask:
- do you prefer teaching younger or older students? What about adults?
- What methodology do you embrace in your teaching?
- What do you feel are the most important aspects of language learning?
- Some teachers emphasise reading and writing, while others' focus is on listening comprehension or pronunciation
Do you provide learning materials? What textbooks do you recommend, or work from?
- Have you ever worked with someone who is learning disabled?
That last question is designed to glean your prospective new teacher's patience levels, rather than announcing any disability you or your child may have.
Overall, asking questions is a way to understand how receptive your future teacher would be to your queries during lessons.
Did you know that every Superprof French tutor, for the most part, offer their first hour of instruction for free, just to see if you will work well together before any cash outlay?
How to Practice Your French Language Skills Between Lessons
Working with a tutor, from one French class to the next, is an excellent way to get multiple inputs on learning the French language.
If your child is taking French in secondary school, you may want a tutor to help him or her prepare for GCSE level French!
Formally committing yourself to language learning by taking classes is a great start to learning la langue française.
However, most academics will tell you: for every hour spent in the classroom, you should dedicate an additional two hours to independent study and practice.
Does that mean you have to sit at a desk in a silent room, with no distractions from the French workbook in front of you?
Absolument pas, mon cher!
We find the belief that practicing French seriously can only happen via traditional means quite limiting.
What about listening to podcasts, watching French TV programmes and French films; dancing around to French music or finding native French speakers to chat with?
How can you, who might live far from any metropolitan centre, find such opportunities?
Finding French Materials Online
As long as you have a reasonably fast Internet connection, you can make use of many online avenues to, at the least, hear spoken French.
Youtube has several channels, with or without English subtitles, where you can watch and hear native speakers expound on mastering difficult language concepts in French.
You can even stream live news broadcasts at any time of the day or night!
If international news is indeed your bailiwick, or whether you prefer sports or lighter fare, streema is the perfect outlet for French broadcasting online.
Besides news and sports, you can search for podcasts; some designed expressly for French learners such as yourself, and others targeted to advanced learners of the language.
We urge you to beware in selecting such materials: not because of questionable veracity, but because of where they originate.
You'll remember that French is the official language of more than one country.
The French spoken in Canada is a bit different from the one spoken, say, in Belgium which, in turn, varies just a tad from the one spoken in France.
There is enough of a variance in these regional tongues that, should you learn Canadian French, you may not be fully understood in Switzerland – where French is also an official language.
Thus it might behoove you to listen to french French: what is called metropolitan French, spoken in Paris, Bordeaux, and everywhere else in France, and adaptable worldwide.
If you intend to sit any official French language exam, your focus should be on Metropolitan French!
That takes care of French audio; what about speaking French?
A good site for online chat with native speakers is wespeke. Unlike other language learning sites, this is a social networking platform that lets you connect with a francophone for one to one conversation.
Besides permitting you to exercise your conversational French, this site has several language learning tools, such as a notebook for you to compile all of the tips for improving your French that you new French friends will surely give you!
While we're at it, let us introduce you to Conversation Exchange, a fantastic language exchange site.
There, you would have the opportunity to help non native people learn English while they help you learn to speak French.
You will need to have sharp speaking skills if you want to sit the DELF!
Testing Your Level of French Through Official Language Exams
Whether you are learning French for professional reasons – you wish to work and live in France, or to attend a classical theatre course at the Sorbonne online university, you must first demonstrate your ability to speak and understand French.
The only way to obtain this proof of your French language ability is to submit to official testing and have your ability to use French measured and categorised by the Ministry of National Education in France.
This series of decidedly French exams mirror other European language exam structures.
At the lowest level, A1, the francophone demonstrates basic capability of French reading, writing, speaking and listening.
At the highest level, C2, the bilingual French speaker is capable of any conversation and able to decipher any document.
As an added consideration to professionals, the DELF includes an exam especially for them: all text and terms include a more business French vocabulary.
No matter which exam you sit, at every level and even DELF Pro, you will be tested on all four language aspects: reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension.
None of these exams pose questions of grammar, vocabulary or tenses of verbs.
These aspects of language learning are assessed within your use of the language, not as individual components.
If you are preparing to sit the DELF, there is no need for you to repeat je suis, tu es ad nauseam; nobody will ask you to conjugate any verb during the course of this exam!
Rather, what the examiners look for is fluency at whatever degree you are testing at.
DELF is a pass/fail proposition.
If your efforts meet at least the minimum criterion, you will be deemed suited to speaking French at the level you test.
Although the structure of the DELF exams is progressive, you do not have to sit each exam in turn. You may select the test that corresponds to your level of French learning straightaway.
The question remains: how to do you assess your level, before having your level of French officially assessed?
Here, the Alliance Française comes into play. Their website's homepage has a link to a quiz, wherein you estimate your ability to speak French, and subsequently are presented with questions that will affirm your appraisal.
You can also analyse your French language strengths and weaknesses by taking placement quizzes right from the French DELF page.
Whether as a prospective tourist to any French speaking country or hopeful of enrolling at a French university for your undergraduate or graduate degree; and certainly, if you intend to work and live in France or any French speaking country, learning how to speak French is the necessary first step.
Now you know where you can take French lessons and practice your French pronunciation; how to find exciting broadcasts to train your ear to the rhythm of the French language, and what to look for in a French teacher.
Now that you know where to learn, how quickly to learn is all up to you!