Eiffel Tower as seen from below
Learning to speak French: View of the Champs de Mars from the Eiffel Tower
View of the Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower.

If you’re thinking about learning to speak French – or any other language for that matter; please keep reading because I’m going to share with you a few things I’ve come to understand about learning a different language.

You see, I’ve been honing (haha, yeah right) my French for a couple years now by utilizing a 4 pronged attack method.

What’s that you say? You’d love to hear about my highly unscientific method? Well, let me tell you all about it then!

What a Pain in the Apps!

First and foremost, when I began learning to speak French (I’m still not very good), I dutifully practiced each and every day with an app called Duolingo. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before.

The problem is, you can only learn so much through the app. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll never become proficient.

Honestly, it’s a good app though, and you’ll definitely learn many things, but you simply won’t become a proficient speaker (no matter what they say) who is able to adapt to a conversation on the fly by only using online apps.

Learning to Speak French: Eiffel Tower as seen from below

I’m not going to provide an extensive list of apps or programs that will help you learn a new language; mostly because that would require a lot of my time, but also because I can’t vouch for all the different companies out there with language learning software such as Rosetta Stone. I’ve heard it’s good but I think it’s also quite expensive.

Honestly, the only three I’ve used are Duolingo, Memrise, and finally Tandem.

The first two in the list above are great ways to get your feet wet in the new language of your choice. Tandem on the other hand is a chat app where you can connect with people around the world that speak the language you want to learn.

You can call them and speak face to face through your smartphone, or simply leave voice or text messages that they can respond to.

I can understand if this might be a little bit intimidating for some people though, so don’t feel like you need to do this right away in your language learning journey.

Through Tandem I’ve actually met a couple people that I continue to chat with on a regular basis outside of the app. I’ll get back to that later though as that will be the fourth pillar of my whole…advanced language…learning…thing…

Number 2: What’s Black and White and Read All Over???

I bet you thought I was going to say a ‘newspaper’ right?

Well you’re wrong, because it’s really a penguin falling down the stairs. HAHA!

So what does that have to do with learning to speak French?

Absolutely nothing, except for the word read. It was a failed attempt at a segue.

Okay, enough silliness let’s get back to serious matters.

My second recommendation is kind of a no-brainer. That’s right, there’s never a better time than getting your nose buried in some French literature. I wrote a post about the first 4 French books we ever ordered from Amazon here: Our French Books Arrived Today!

I believe I wrote that post about two and a half years ago. Wow, time flies.

Think about purchasing a French for Dummies book or any other learning material for that matter. Specifically look for courses that have an audio CD that matches the material in the book as that will further help your comprehension of your new language.

Your local library is going to be a huge help in this area. They should have a section devoted to different languages and it could be a gold mine of information right at your fingertips.

Reading easy French books before moving onto more advanced books will naturally form your understanding of how sentences might be structured differently in French than in English.

You will also be increasing your French vocabulary at a steady pace. Just don’t get yourself burned out by trying to read too long at one time. Your brain needs time to absorb all the new material.

Show Me What You Got!

The next thing I highly recommend doing is picking out a couple French television shows to watch. Make sure they hold your interest though, or you won’t continue watching them on a regular basis.

This is very important, because as I’ve stated earlier, it’s easier to read French rather than to listen to or speak it correctly.

Just by listening to French – even if you don’t understand what’s being said – your brain will naturally start picking out words that it knows. And that’s pretty cool.

For me, two shows really worked well to help me stay tuned in and wanting to continue watching. One of them is awfully corny but that’s okay because I have no shame in admitting that I still like it to this day.

Oh, and don’t forget to open Google Translate in a different tab as you will be using it a LOT!

So without further ado, the two shows are…

Drum roll please…


It’s sort of like a sillier version of the sitcom Friends. I’ll add a YouTube video below so you can check it out and decide if it’s something you might want to watch. But don’t forget the subtitles, or as they say in French ‘avec sous-titres‘.

The next show I found is just straight up great. It’s centered around the life of an elementary aged kid named Nicolas. In fact, I think it’s quite a well known show in France.

After a few episodes you’ll really start to understand how each character in the show operates. For instance, Eudes is rough and tough. He always has a band-aid on his nose and he suffers from a short fuse.

He’s quick to threaten anyone that crosses him with a “coupes de poing sur le nez”, which means they need a “fist to the nose”.

Alceste, his best friend can’t help but want to eat all the time. He’s soft spoken until upset, then the other children need to be wary if they are in his path.

Here’s a video of the show Le Petit Nicolas. As I mentioned before, make sure the subtitles are on, and don’t forget to keep Google translate handy in another tab.

When Learning to Speak French, I’d Like to Phone a Friend Please.

Finally, I highly, highly recommend finding someone that speaks the language you are wanting to learn and reach out to them. I know that sounds easier said than done, but trust me, there really are a lot of resources available out there where you can find new friends online.

To be more specific, I’m talking about language exchanges.  If you’re not familiar with what a language exchange is, it’s pretty simple.

You usually sign up for an account, fill in your information, and begin looking for people that speak the language you want to learn.

Most often this means you will be teaching them your native language in return. That is why it’s called a language exchange. Pretty ingenious if you ask me.

Here are four websites you can try:

Conversation Exchange

Easy Language Exchange

The Mixxer


You might even think about hiring a private tutor from a company like italki where you choose a ‘teacher’ that you can talk with through a webcam. They will be able to pinpoint what you need to work on to achieve the level of fluency you desire in French or whatever language you are learning.

I mentioned earlier that I met a couple of people using the Tandem app. They live in France and I talk to them on a regular basis through Facebook messenger.

Learning to Speak French: Yarny in Europe
Yarny hanging out in our motel room for the night, just north of Paris.

When learning to speak French, I can’t stress enough the importance of being able to speak with native speakers. They’ll let you know when your sentences don’t make any sense whatsoever (I know from experience), explain local idioms to you, and keep you from making those embarrassing mistakes we’re all bound to make.

I wish you the best of luck in your new language learning endeavors. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. You’ll discover a whole new world that you never knew.

As always, leave any recommendations or different ideas that I didn’t cover in the comments section below.

Thank you and have fun with your new language!

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