Learning French? Here Are 5 Books I Recommend You Own
- Written byAdrien Renault
- Read time11 mins
Need books to learn or to take your French to the next level?
Combined with a good French resource or app, diving into some of the best books can definitely help you improve your French grammar and vocabulary.
The tricky part is deciding which books are best for your learning style since there are so many.
Below I’ve listed my top 5 books that will help you on your journey to learning French.
If I’ve missed out a book that completely transformed your knowledge of the French language, let me know below with a comment.
UPDATE: A lot of people ask for our best online French course recommendation. Here it is for those interested:
🇫🇷 Easy French Step-by-Step
Just starting out on your French learning journey? You’ve just got to check out this Easy French Step-by-Step textbook.
From the very start, this book introduces you to the vital structures of the French language.
You’ll progress through each ‘step’ of the book, and as you advance, you’ll gain essential skills in three of the key areas needed to master the French language — speaking, reading and writing.
Equipping you with critical facts on the gender and number of nouns and articles, indefinite articles, pluralisation and descriptive adjectives, this book is ideal for French beginners.
But its contents don’t stop there! Here are some of the fundamental topics covered by this comprehensive book:
- The Verbs être and avoir, Subject Pronouns and Negation
- Days and Months, Regular -er verbs in the Present Tense and Interrogatives
- Numbers, Dates and Time and Regular -ir Verbs in the Present Tense
- Regular -re Verbs in the Present Tense and -er Verbs with Spelling Changes
The list goes on, but you get the gist. This book does exactly what the title indicates — it takes you through each essential topic in French, step-by-step.
The Easy French Step-by-Step book covers practically everything you need to get started. It provides you with an abundance of French sentences and examples in context, clear and precise grammar explanations, a vast selection of grammatical activities with an answer key and texts to help perfect your reading skills.
You’ll even be given the chance to become an expert when conjugating French verbs with the support offered by this beginner’s guide!
What I liked most about this French textbook was its simplicity and pace. It guides you through each topic at the perfect speed. Being quick yet thorough, it puts you on the fastest path to gaining an in-depth knowledge of French vocabulary, grammar and syntax.
🇫🇷 Complete Language Pack: French
If you’re a visual learner just beginning to immerse yourself in the French language, this Complete Language Pack: French is definitely worth looking at.
This book boasts 60 detailed units that can be studied in a mere 15 minutes per topic.
How amazing is that?
It means, in addition for being suited to visual learners, it’s the ideal textbook for those who lack sufficient time to study.
An added bonus? The Complete Language Pack: French claims that with its content you can teach yourself the French language in just 12 weeks! It even comes with a pocket-sized phrasebook.
What sets this book apart from the others is its two free audio apps which correspond to the phrasebook and the main Language Pack.
It gives you the chance to actually practice your listening skills and hear how to pronounce key phrases with examples from French natives.
With the Complete Language Pack: French, you’ll plunge into different contexts and settings, with each lesson giving you a key theme to study. Some of the vital lessons you’ll learn include:
- Eating out (at the café or bar)
- Nouns and pronouns
- Gender (masculine and feminine)
But I’ve only just scratched the surface. There are so many more practical topics that you’ll discover in this in-depth language pack.
The other perk this book has is that it contains essential review sections or modules. These review modules enable you to see how you’re going, track your progress and find out where you might need to practice a bit more.
Suited to beginners and those who need re-acquaint themselves with vital French skills, the Complete Language Pack: French is ideal for making strides and enhancing your proficiency with the French language.
🇫🇷 Living Language French, Complete Edition
The Living Language French, Complete Edition is a gem of a French textbook (the online course on the other hand, not so much 😄).
Well, it might be better to avoid the term ‘textbook’ in this case, as this comprehensive guide offers you so much more than grammatical exercises.
What you’ll get with the Living Language guide is a selection of not one, or two, but three coursebooks, taking you from beginner level right the way up to advanced.
This guide is full of detailed lessons. 46 lessons, to be exact, complete with notes on French culture, the opportunity to review your progress with review exercises, a range of summaries for French grammar… and so much more.
You’ll find that the guide comes with CDs that round your French learning experience off by helping you immerse yourself in native French dialogues, a range of new words and vocabulary and audio exercises.
What’s more, you can even benefit from an extensive range of online learning materials such as games and quizzes, in addition to flashcards, all of which help you retain your knowledge.
Oh — and it really makes the learning experience fun!
With the Living Language French, Complete Edition guide, you don’t need to worry about being entertained.
This book will more than keep your attention. It will get you reading, listening to, writing and speaking French, whichever level you are studying at.
All three books contain critical units, including but not limited to:
- At Home
- Describing Things
- Around Town
- At the Restaurant
- Everyday Life
- Making Appointments
- Asking for Directions
- Doctor and Health
One of the best things for me about the Living Language French, Complete Edition is how it helps you perfect the French accent with its CDs.
This complicated element of learning any new language is something that you sometimes don’t get much help with from books or guides.
But using this one definitely helps you refine your French pronunciation and also helps you become more readily understood by French natives.
🇫🇷 101 Conversations in Intermediate French
What the 101 Conversations in Intermediate French textbook offers is a level of immersion that you might not get with other French books (it leads on to the popular online course called French Uncovered - (see review)).
This exceptional collection of French dialogues will get you speaking in no time.
In fact, it rightly claims that ‘Real French people don’t speak like your textbook’, and sets about fixing this barrier to efficient communication. In this sense, the book goes beyond your typical French textbook, helping you to absorb authentic conversations that take actually place on a day-to-day basis.
This collection of conversations is ideal for intermediate-level French learners who are looking to pick up additional phrases, enhance their knowledge and benefit from real French conversations.
You’ll find that each of the dialogues are just 150 words.
They’re bite-sized enough for you to be able to follow the conversation and understand what is being said.
This book has an extensive range of word lists, complete with English definitions, and if you’re still unsure about a particular word or French phrase, you’ll have a summary of every dialogue.
What’s also great about the 101 Conversations in Intermediate French textbook is that although it doesn’t actually have structured lessons, the dialogues are a window to French culture.
The contexts they provide are typical of French life.
The whole dialogue takes place in France, which might be considered a drawback if you’re keen on learning the cultural norms of Quebec or Morocco.
But when you use the 101 Conversations in Intermediate French book, you will find that the conversations are fun, entertaining, engaging and even feature a few slang or colloquial expressions that are typical of the Parisian French language.
🇫🇷 Mastering French Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach
You might have embarked upon your journey to becoming a fluent French speaker by focusing on grammar at the expense of vocabulary.
If that’s the case, the Mastering French Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach is just what you’ll need.
Expanding vocabulary is often the key to understanding a wider range of French dialogues and that is exactly what this book will help you with.
Though this book is like a French to English dictionary, it goes beyond this. It’s organized into themes, and contains 24 topics that will help you gain a fuller picture of the French language.
But what’s really great about the Mastering French Vocabulary book is that it even features a set of MP3 audio that come with it.
With this audio, you’ll be able to listen to up to 10 hours of recordings, which really helps when it comes to pronouncing the new French vocabulary you have learned.
Some of the key themes included in this textbook are:
- Vocabulary related to business
- Words and phrases used in a medical context
- Words for household or domestic objects
- Phrases for French food and eating out
- Vocabulary for transport and getting around
- Scientific terms
- Terms for clothes
- Vocabulary related to art and culture
This book contains about 13,000 terms.
And being accompanied by a perfectly-paced set of audio that help you get the French accent just right, I would describe the Mastering French Vocabulary as ‘detailed’ and ‘wide-ranging’.
It’s ideal for listening and repeating new words - the best way to plug the gaps in your French vocabulary.
How to choose the right book to learn French
Even though selecting the most appropriate book is challenging, as there are so many textbooks out there, there are a couple of ways you can narrow down your options.
Consider the areas you need to improve in
One of the key factors to think about when choosing the right book to enhance your French learning experience is to consider your weak points.
You’ll need to think about which areas need a little boost.
For instance, are you struggling with pronouncing new French words and vocabulary? Do you struggle with grammar?
Take note that certain textbooks which are geared towards grammar may not always help you with pronunciation.
Instead, they’ll offer you grammatical drills and exercises that are important, but might not be what you require. If you need to improve your French accent skills, investing in a book that features audio might be the best way forward, which will help you to listen, learn and repeat.
By thinking about your weak points, you can choose the ideal book that will help you progress faster.
Consider your learning style
You might also think about your learning style.
How do you like to learn, or how do you learn best?
Are you a visual learner or do you learn by repetition? Do you learn better when listening to new words, phrases and dialogues, or are you more receptive to an authority-orientated style of learning?
Are you what’s called a ‘concrete’ learner — do you learn best with games and interactive approaches?
For each of these learning styles, there’s an ideal book out there that will support your learning.
If you learn by repetition, for instance, choosing a book that has an accompanying CD might benefit you, whereas if you prefer an authority-orientated approach (i.e., listening to a teacher), grammatical exercises and comprehension tasks might be the way to go.
If you’re a ‘concrete’ learner you might benefit from apps and online games that are often offered alongside some top textbooks.
Choosing more than one book
One final thing that might also help you choose the right book is that you can always select more than one.
You don’t have to limit yourself to a single textbook.
Not only using a variety help you cover all your weak points, it also helps you remember new vocabulary and grammatical rules at the same time, keeping you engaged and focused.
Take your French skills to the next level with top textbooks and audios
Reaching the next level of French proficiency is more than possible with the right book.
Remember, regular practice is essential and an engaging book that suits your learning style is typically more ideal than a book that doesn’t maintain your attention.
Consider your weak points and when in doubt, boost your skills with more than one book. You can do it!
Bonne chance. 😊
Any French books or resources I should add here?
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