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.
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 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.
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 :
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 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.
You can find many stories for beginners on Laura K. Lawless‘ website and read them with side-by-side English translation.
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.
French reading practice for beginners
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 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 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 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:
- Le journal des enfants (sport, science, culture, good news…)
- 1 jour 1 actu (news)
- Geo Ado (earth, news, ecology, travel…)
- Wapiti (nature, science, ecology)
- Julie Mag (girls magazine)
French reading practice for intermediate and advanced French learners
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.
As an intermediate learner, you can start reading news websites. Here are a few:
- Voxeurop (translated in most European languages)
- Cafebabel (European news in Polish, English, Italian, Spanish, German and French)
- Le Monde
- Le Figaro
- L’équipe (sport)
- Le Gorafi (French equivalent of The Onion)
- Journal en français facile (with audio)
- Google News
Looking for more? Click here to discover 18 French newspapers!
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.
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.
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