If you want to know how to improve your French then you’re probably looking to improve all parts of your French. However if you have one particular skill in mind such as speaking then skip down to our section on how to improve specific skills.
Improving your French is something that will take a while and you may find yourself feeling frustrated. But if you just keep at it, you’ll find that you’re improving without even realising it.
Here are our top tips on how to improve your French.
How to improve your French
How To Improve French Speaking
To improve your French speaking you need to find more opportunities to talk. Which may sound daunting at first but there are lots of ways you can practise speaking in French.
Find a language partner
There are website like italki and conversation exchange where you can find language partners to practise French with. You organise a time to do an exchange, either online or in person, and then spend half the time speaking in French and half the time speaking in your language.
With this method, try to think of a new topic each time you talk to your language partner. That way you get to practise lots of different topics and vocab rather than just having similar conversations again and again.
Record yourself speaking French
If you can’t find a language partner than something you can do is to record yourself speaking once a day. Think of it like a vlog, where you do ten minute entry just to practise saying things. Try and speaking about a different thing every day.
This is also really cool because you can watch it back a few months later and see how you’ve improve.
Narrate What You Do
This may sound crazy but when you’re going about the house or working try and narrate what you’re doing. Speak about what you can see, how you feel and what you do.
You might sound like a crazy person but it’s a great way to build your fluidity whilst speaking.
Just make sure the people you live with know what you’re doing so they don’t think you’ve lost the plot.
How To Improve Your French Listening
Listening is often that skill that people find the most difficult with and also need the most practise with. This is common when learning most foreign languages and French is no different, especially when they drop off the ends of most of their words.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your French listening skills. You just need a bit of practise.
Have Conversations With French Speakers
Having conversations in French won’t just improve your speaking skills but your listening skills too. A common mistake people make with listening is that they think if they just hear French they’ll get better at listening but this isn’t the case.
When you listen you need to be interacting with the language, either by understanding, having to answer questions or having to respond as in a conversation.
That’s why having conversations is so useful. Because when you’re listening to someone speaking you have to listen to what they’re saying to be able to understand.
Conversations in French are one of the quickest ways to improve your listening in French, as well as helping with your speaking practise.
Watch French Shows With French Subtitles
A super fun way to improve your French listening skills is to watch TV shows in French. If your level is C1 or C2 then you probably won’t have any trouble with this.
But if your level isn’t that advanced yet then you might struggle if you just watch shows with no help. You’re not going learn by osmosis so there’s no point just listening to something difficult and hoping you take it in.
Try and find shows that suit your level a bit more. So if you’re a beginner you may want to try children’s TV shows. If you’re intermediate, a sitcom might match your level and if your French is more advanced you could move onto French language films.
Subtitles are also a god send. If you listen to French audio and read along with French subtitles at the same time then this will help with your listening a lot. You’ll be able to match what you’re reading on the screen to what you’re hearing and it will make it easier for you to identify French sounds that you hear.
Not to mention it’ll help your French reading skills at the same time.
Do French Listening Activities
As we’ve mentioned previously, you’re not going to improve your listening by listening alone. The best thing to do is to interact with the material you’re listening to. That way you can test how much you’re actually understanding and you take on an active role rather than a passive one.
A great way to do this is to find French listening activities to use to practise with. You can find lots online, or if you’re struggling, look for past exam papers at the current level you’re studying at.
There are lots of past exam papers online with listening activities that you can use to help practise your listening skills. You’ll also be able to test out your level at the same time.
Listen To French Podcasts
Podcasts are gaining in popularity anyway and this is no different with language learning podcasts.
There are lots of French podcasts available for different levels that you could listen to at any time of the day to help you with your French. They’re great to listen to on your way to work or while you’re running.
Just choose one suitable for your level, switch it on and listen to it on the go.
How To Improve Writing In French
Keep A Diary
It doesn’t matter if anyone sees it, although that would definitely help! Try and write something in French every single day, even if it’s just a paragraph. This will help you to improve your writing skills and just make writing in French feel a lot more natural for you.
Use The Notebook Feature On Italki
Italki is a fantastic resource for lots of reasons but one way in which it is incredibly helpful is that it has a notebook feature.
With this notebook features you can write diary entries, articles or short stories and have real life native speakers give you feedback on your work!
The only piece of advice that I would give you is don’t make the entries too long or people won’t want to correct them for you. And make sure you correct other people’s work as well. As it’s a community and everyone on italki are there to help each other.
Use Your Teacher
If you don’t take lessons then this option won’t be for you. But if you have a teacher then use them. They’re there to help you! If you want to practise writing articles then do that and give them to your teacher to get feedback.
This is the perfect person for you to get feedback from because they want to help you and they’ve also been trained to mark students’ work and to help students learn. If you have a teacher then ask them for some writing tasks. I’m sure they will be thrilled at the extra work.
How To Improve Reading In French
Read Graded Readers
Graded readers are books that have been written to match the level of the learner. So if you’re a beginner instead of having to read children’s books in French you can read a book that has the plot for an adult but that has been written for a beginner.
Graded readers are becoming more common as more people want to learn languages so you should be able to find a range perfect for you. They are normally marked beginner, intermediate and advanced. Or sometimes you will find books from A1 through to C2.
Find our best recommendations for French graded readers.
Read Children’s Books In French
If graded readers aren’t for you, then children’s books are a great way to get practising reading in French. If you’re a beginner and you want to get used to reading but you don’t want to be reading things that are too difficult, then children’s books are the perfect middle ground.
They often use simple language so you shouldn’t have too much trouble with them and even though the stories aren’t that sophisticated, they can be really fun.
Read The News
This might be a bit too advanced for beginner learners. But if you’re an intermediate or advanced learner then this will be perfect for you.
If you start the day off reading the news in English, why don’t you switch to reading it in French instead.
This is a great way to build a habit into your life that will help you to improve your French reading skills. You’re bound to come across new words and vocabulary that you don’t know.
The way that I would do this would be to try and read an article from a different section every day.
One day you could read an article in French from science and technology, the next day you could read an article about the economy. This will improve your French reading skills and it’ll be interesting for you at the same time.
Do Reading Papers From Past Exams
Past exam papers are a perfect way to improve your reading skills because each exam is graded to a certain level. So if you download exam papers at an A2 level and you’re an A2 learner you know the difficulty level is going to be perfect you.
The great thing about past papers is that they normally have comprehension questions after you’ve read the text so you can test yourself to see how much you’ve been able to understand.
You can find them online or you can buy textbooks with them in as well.
Consider Taking An Exam
An exam can be a great way to improve your skills in a language. Even if you don’t need a qualification for work or to study, signing up for an exam can be a fantastic way to motivate you to study more.
If you sign up for an exam, and you know what you need to study then you’re more likely to cover these things as you study towards your exam and you’ll find that your French improves in no time.
If you’re thinking about taking an exam then check out our commonly asked questions about the DELF and DALF here.
Or check out our recommended DELF textbooks to help you get a head start.
Buy a textbook
Textbooks aren’t just useful if you’re taking an exam, they can also complement your learning and help you with trickier grammar points that may need a bit of extra practise.
Why not take a look at our recommended list of the best French textbooks available.
We hope you’ve found this article on how to improve your French useful. What tips and tricks do you like to use to study and practise French? Let’s us know in the comments below.