L is for Learning a Language

Now I took French in high school (four years) and in college (two years), but – after a twenty year hiatus – one thing I'm definitely not is fluent. So when I first arrived in France I signed up at one of the Universities, L'Institute Catholique de Toulouse, tested into Elementaire III (right before intermediate), and paid close to 480 euro for one month of intensive training (four hours a day/five days a week).

Mais ce n'est pas donner!/c'est pas donner! (It wasn't given/It's not cheap)

Spending that kind of money each month wasn't in my (our) budget. Plus, I have the advantage of living with a French family and speaking my Balki/Borat-like French on a daily basis. Still, I have to learn more, improve. I need to conjugate on the fly. And I can't call everybody mega moche (super ugly) or un nul (a zero/loser) or dégueulasse (disgusting/gross) – what I've learned from the kids. So what's a girl do?

Enter iTunes and the web (and a bit of discipline).

Who would have thought iTunes would be a resource for FREE* language resources? Well, it is. And whatever language you want to learn, all you have to do is search in the Podcast section of the iTunes store, subscribe to the podcasts you want to listen to, and either a) listen to them on your computer or transfer them to your iPod. Plus, most of the podcasts also have web presences, some even offering full courses (you do pay a small fee), and some for FREE. Anyway, here are some of the best podcasts I've found:


Lovely and oftentimes laughable linguists:

Katia & Kylie Mac Learn French

Great for any level! 105 episodes and then some!

click here to visit their site or/and download their podcasts directly to your computer for FREE on iTunes



I love Katia and Kylie Mac's podcasts because they are HYSTERICAL and make learning French fun. Well, that, and because they teach useful expressions you won't really learn in school. See the French have all sorts of strange expressions that, when translated, mean something completely different. For example, (il n') y a pas un chat, or rather, y a pas un chat (the French drop the il n' when speaking), literally means there isn't a cat. However, when used in France it means there isn't anybody around. Or être une langue de pute, which, word for word, is the tongue of a whore (yikes, probably a very active tongue), but really means to be a backstabbing gossip!

Click here! You can learn all this and much, much more!


Listen to and watch REAL FRENCH people talk!

Yabla French

Great for any level!

click here to visit their site (pay for a subscription or take a look at sample lessons) or/and download their podcast videos directly to your computer for FREE on iTunes. There are about 90 FREE podcast videos with translations embedded into the video.

One of the most important things one can do when learning a language is to listen to native speakers talking. If you live in said country, while eavesdropping MAY work, people (unfortunately) don't come with a pause button. That, and they kind of get irritated.

So yay for Yabla!

What I like about the FREE Yabla video podcasts is they integrate contemporary themes, for example, music videos, and provide the translations in both English and French. The pay lessons on their site are also wonderful, very interactive, and I do think what they are doing is great. Check it out! (There are sample lessons on their sites). Also, YABLA.com not only offers LANGUAGE immersion lessons in French, but also Spanish, German and Italian!


Audio lessons with guides.

Learn French by Podcast

Great for intermediate to advanced students if used w/out the lesson guides. Great for beginner students if used with the lesson guides. Note: you have to be a subscriber (pay) to get the guides, which are purchased via download credits. (About $1.00 a guide)

click here to visit their site or/and download their audio podcasts directly to your computer for FREE on iTunes, where there are about 148 FREE audio lessons.

This is the course I am currently using as I can pop in my earbuds, listen to REAL conversations spoken by native speakers and get on with my day. It's awesome! I can clean, ride my bike, sit on the train, whatever, all while improving my French at the same time.


Lessons with PDF transcripts, video vocabulary prompts, and more!

The French Pod Class

Great for beginners or as a refresher course!

click here to visit their site or/and download their audio and a few video podcasts directly to your computer for FREE on iTunes, where there are about 99 FREE downloadable audio lessons, complete with previews of the PDF transcripts and more!

One of the most important things one can do when learning a language is to listen to native speakers talking. If you live in said country, while eavesdropping MAY work, people (unfortunately) don't come with a pause button. What I like about the FREE Yabla video podcasts is they integrate contemporary themes, for example, music videos, and provide the translations in both English and French. The pay lessons on their site are also wonderful, and I do think what they are doing is great. Check it out! Also, YABLA.com not only offers LANGUAGE immersion lessons in French, but also Spanish, German and Italian!

and finally the motherload of them all with over 1,000 audio lessons!

Lessons with PDF transcripts, video vocabulary prompts,
and more!

Daily French Pod with Louis!

Great for intermediate to advanced students if used w/out the lesson guides. Great for beginner students if used with the lesson guides. Note: you have to be a subscriber (pay) to get the guides via a monthly subscription.

click here to visit their site or/and download their audio and a few video podcasts directly to your computer for FREE on iTunes

What's nice about this course is it also provides dictation, where you listen to and write in French and then correct your work. Dictations are important when training the ear – especially when it comes to those dreaded liaisons! And all those conjugations!

Others French Podcasts worth checking out on iTunes:
Cultivate Your French
French Etc. Advanced
French Etc. Tel Que
French Verb Drills
French Verb Conjugation
One Thing in French A Day

Others Online Resources:
La Guinguette!
A phenomenal site for learning French, La Guinguette rocks my world. Not only does it offer videos with both English and French translations, they offer a full course which is divided into three sections – débutant (beginner), intermédiare and avancé – with over 60 hours of transcribed materials and 108 lessons. Need to brush up on your grammar? This course is for you.

I paid the 55 euro (which also includes 45 dictations) and it was worth every penny. Of course, there are the FREE videos too!

Click to visit La Guinguette


Another site I just found is a complete course (beginner) offered by the University of Texas. And it's FREE! It's a little bit hard to get around the site, but once you figure out how to navigate through the chapters (clicking back and clicking on each link) it's great! I'm really impressed to see how much material they've put online-- including sound bites for pronunciation and videos. Really, it's worth checking out.

Click to visit Français Interactif


Finally, ABOUT.COM also has lessons. For Free! Yippee! Check it, check it...out!

SOUND OFF: Any of you have any language resources you'd like to share? Is there a language you want to improve on or learn? Can I tutoyer all of you?


 

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