The Best Resources for Your French Reading Practice

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Immersion is the key to successful language learning.

But contrary to a popular myth, you don’t need to live in France to reap the benefits of immersion and successfully learn French.

One of the best ways to get your daily dose of French immersion is to read French books, news and other texts you enjoy (that or watching French TV and listening to French podcasts).

What should you read to improve your French?

Read something you enjoy

The most important is to be interested in what you’re reading.

You shouldn’t fall asleep while reading in French. Otherwise, you’ll do everything to avoid reading in French and quickly give up.

Think about what you read in your native language and look for similar texts you can read in French.

Whether it’s fashion, cooking or gardening doesn’t matter, the most important is that you enjoy reading.

I’d be happy to help you find the resource you need. Simply tell me what you’d like to read in the comment section below this article!

Read something that’s slightly above your level

In addition to reading something you enjoy, you need to find the sweet spot between content that’s too easy and content that’s too complicated.

Choose something too easy and you won’t make any progress, choose something too complicated and you’ll quickly give up.

By reading a text you partially understand, you get to expand your vocabulary and learn grammar naturally by seeing how sentences are constructed and verbs conjugated.

You’re also more likely to enjoy reading, because you’ll feel a sense of progress.

Unfortunately, this means your readings choices are restricted by your level.

That’s why I highly recommend you to use tools like Readlang that make reading French much more enjoyable.

4 Tools you can use to read French faster

Have you ever been frustrated by the enormous amount of time it takes you to read in French?

I used to have this problem too, my reading was so slow that I would give up, tired to always have to open the dictionary. Luckily, a few browser (chrome, firefox etc) extensions can make reading faster and ultimately more effective.

Google Dictionary

Google Dictionary is my favorite language learning extension. Thanks to it I am able to read much more articles in foreign languages than before.

Every time you click on an unknown word, Google Dictionary automatically look up the definition in different dictionaries and provide you with a translation in your native language. If the word refers to a place or a person, the extension will often show you the wikipedia page.

The advantage? You don’t have to open the dictionary any more, one click is enough to translate unknown words. However, the translations aren’t always perfectly accurate since the plugin uses Google Translate most of the time.

Click here to download Google Dictionary (free)

Language Immersion for Chrome

This language learning extension is slightly different from the previous ones. It was created to immerse you in a language learning environement and it’s exactly what it does.

When you launch Language Immersion for Chrome, you have the choice between three immersion levels, “novice”, “intermediate” and fluent. Depending on the level, more or less words will be translated into your target language. To read the original words, you simply need to select the translated words. Here is a video explaining the concept of this plugin :

Click here to download Language Immersion for Chrome (free)

 

French reading practice for all levels

Before showing you my favorite French reading resources for your level, here are a few resources you can use no matter what your level is.

Readlang

Readlang contains the transcript of many videos and songs as well as lots of texts you can read.

You can also easily see the definition and translation of each words and review words with a flashcard system.

Lawless French

You can find many stories for beginners on Laura K. Lawless’ website and read them with side-by-side English translation.

Lingq

Lingq was created by the polyglot Steve Kaufman and allows you to learn French by reading. You can find lots of texts with audio and easily see the translation of any word by clicking on it.

You can later review the words and sentences you learned with a flashcard system similar to the one I describe in the ultimate guide to learning vocabulary.

You can also use Lingq to communicate with other language learners and find a tutor, but that’s another story.

French reading practice for beginners

Beginner French practice

As a beginner, you need easy French reads, which immediately excludes most books written for native speakers.

But, you also want authentic French, because you want to learn French you’ll actually use.

Considering this, your best bet is to read material written for French children or for French learners.

Here are my favorite French reading resources for beginners.

The French Together course

The French Together course contains high-quality dialogues you can use to learn everyday French.

This also makes it an excellent resource if you want to practice reading with everyday dialogues.

Children’s Library

Children’s Library contains 59 French children’s books you can read online or find in your local library.

Many of these books also exist in English, so you can open both the French and English version and compare the translations.

You can also check out Amazon if you’re looking for other French children’s books.

Language Guide

Language Guide contains several books and jokes for beginners that you can read and listen to at the same time.

You can also see the definition of complicated words, although it’s easier to just install a plugin to do that.

Children’s magazines and newspapers

If you’re looking for news and articles about everyday life, check out one of the following magazines:

French reading practice for intermediate and advanced French learners

intermediate French reading practice

Français Authentique

Johan regularly publishes podcasts that come with a transcript so you can read and listen at the same time. His Facebook page is also an awesome resource to get your daily dose of French

.Check out my list of the best French podcasts to find other podcasts that include transcripts.

News websites

As an intermediate learner, you can start reading news websites. Here are a few:

Looking for more? Click here to discover 18 French newspapers!

French books

There are naturally lots of French books you can choose and I’m not going to recommend any in particular, because the best French book for you is the one you’ll enjoy reading.

Here are a few websites where you can find French books:

If you choose to read books from a classic author like Maupassant, don’t forget that these books were written more than 100 years ago, so many words are no longer used.

Wikipedia

That’s right! Wikipedia is an excellent reading resource, because a large part of its content is available both in French and in English.

This is particularly useful if you’d like to learn the vocabulary of a specific field.

Disclosure: this article contains affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on a link in this article.

Benjamin Houy

Benjamin Houy is a native French speaker and tea drinker with a BA degree in Applied Foreign Languages and a passion for languages. After teaching French and English in South Korea for 7 months as part of a French government program, he created French Together™ to help English speakers learn the 20% of French that truly matters. You will also find him giving blogging advice on Grow With Less.

20 thoughts on “The Best Resources for Your French Reading Practice”

  1. Amazing, Benjamin.

    I love your articles and look forward to your e-mails always.

    I’ll check these out and see where they take me in my journey to knowing and speaking French

    A bientot

    Reply
  2. For educators there are great sites such as Newsela that adapt real newpaper articles and make them available at different reading levels. That helps a teacher differentiate the source material for different reading abilities within the class. Is there something equivalent that you know of in French?

    Reply
  3. I highly recommend finding a French translation of a book you know well. I taught myself to read French when I was in 9th grade French2. My dad went on a business trip to Québec and brought back a French copy of my favorite Harry Potter book. I had it practically memorized, so I could get the gist of unfamiliar words and kept my American copy nearby just in case, though I rarely used it. Bonus, the paperback French copies of that series are bound better than the hardback American ones, so no more losing pages! I read other things in French now, when I can’t my hands on them. If you like comic books, check out Astérix. It’s available on Kindle, now!

    Reply
  4. Lingua.ly sounds like a neat extension. Unfortunately, it is only available for Chrome, and I am a Firefox user. It would be a bit cumbersome to switch between browsers. I hope Firefox has a similar extension? But I haven’t found any yet.

    Reply
  5. Hi Benjamin,
    I am currently learning french and find this very interesting. I am looking for argumentatives articles where I could practise to summarize for university, but can’t find anything. I don’t want news, just maybe a magazine or website which has these kind of things?

    Reply
  6. Hi Benjamin,
    I really love your site! It’s wonderful to read more about French than just textbooks. It really has necessary tricks and suggestions. So thank you for that. I will definitely check out these resources for reading, but would you know any fashion blogs/lifestyle sites for practicing French reading as well?
    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  7. I would ask your point of view on that issue: the orthography change in French language.

    https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/jesuiscirconflexe?source=feed_text&story_id=1058458480883304

    This is something that could add some troubles to me.

    In many cases is not like I can consciously remember the majority of the pronunciation “rules”, indeed I tend to associate directly one word with the way I heard that one has been pronounced.
    Maybe it all will end up by learning two ways of writing the same word. (A little bit like to have to know how an English word is slightly differently written in US English and in UK Englis)
    But I would like to hear from you, your point of view, advices and the like.

    Reply
    • To be honest I didn’t spend so much time reading about this change. But from what I read, it’s not even an official change, but rather a suggestion.

      I honestly believe it’s not going to change anything. For now, I’ll keep writing and speaking French the way I have always done it (and so will most people) and I recommend you do the same.

      For me what matters isn’t what the best way to write is, but rather how people use the language. And in French as in English, the correct way is rarely the most common.

      So my tip for you is not to pay attention to it for now.

      Reply
  8. Je suis un professeur de yoga . Je suis abonné à un magazine de yoga en français. Il est plus facile à lire parce que je suis bien informé sur ce sujet.

    Reply
  9. i totally agree. Too many people rely on Google Translate and this can considerably slow down their learning.

    While I do agree that literal translations can be great, I think there are cases when a non literal translation is better. In the case of idioms for example.

    P.S: I edited your comment to mention you wrote the books you linked to.

    P.S2: I would love to review your book

    Reply
    • Hi Benjamin, yes so the interlinear books I edited (not the author) are literal and the translator added the non-literal translation as well, for example in the most common case:
      il y avait
      it there had
      (there was)
      The software e-reader has the same word-for-word info, as pop-up, and adds spaced repetition practice options.
      With (over-abundant) graded readers you “have to” read a million words to become fluent (or rather, to be able to start reading your favorite French book in French without relying on a dictionary too much). Assuming you can’t learn most words from context you’ll have to look them up in an index complementary to the graded reader, or with a dictionary. Say you’ll have to memorize 5000 words (of which about 2000 headwords) while reading those graded readers, and assuming you’ll have to look up words more than once before you memorize them (few people have photographic memory), it means for example that you spent 5000 x (on average) 10 times looking up x (on average) 10 seconds, is 500,000 seconds looking up words to “get fluent”. Or even if you only have to look up 2000 words on average 5 times with 10 seconds look-up time, it’s still 100,000 seconds “look-up” time (breaking immersion) that is avoided with (correct) pop-up or interlinear format.
      The idea is that with interlinear books (re-reading them to memorize the difficult words in the text), and especially the pop-up e-reader with immediate pop-up translation (literal and idiomatic) available, and with integrated software helping you memorize low freq words, you’d be able to read independently much faster (40 hours, I did so with Hungarian).
      It would be interesting if you could review the products. We just started so it’s all still flexible.
      Here’s a quick preview link of both formats. I can imagine that something indicating the low freq words in Interlinear format, or a practice schedule based on SRS, would help memorize them as the software would.
      https://www.learn-to-read-foreign-languages.com/blogs/forum/83166470-learn-french-with-pop-up-translation-and-interlinear-e-books

      Our ideal is to do this for every language. That you can learn to read and understand (it’s with audio) fast, and then go on reading French books independently, and learning to speak and write much easier as well, as you’re already reading and your passive vocab is much larger.
      Let me know please where to send the download link for any review material!

      Reply
    • Salut Red!

      You can use linguee.com, a great site which will give you translation of expressions you type, or their counterparts in English.

      Wikitionary has quite a lot o expressions explained too.

      Reply

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