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There are many ways to learn French, but it can be overwhelming to find the best way for you. Books are a good start to any language learning journey. They are affordable and portable so you can study anywhere. This article takes a look at some of the best books for learning French. No matter your level, or whether you are self-studying or taking classes with a French teacher, there’s a high-quality option on this list for you.
Best Books to Learn French
French is an official language of 29 countries and has over 275 million speakers, making it one of the most spoken languages in the world. It’s also one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, and other large international organizations. In fact, about 20% of people living in United Nations countries speak French.
How Long Will It Take You To Learn French?
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It’s the 3rd most spoken language in Europe and is an important language for tourism. Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and the Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower are frequently featured on lists of the most visited tourist attractions. After English, French is the most taught second language, so learning it will give you the ability to talk to a large population of people. And because it’s so popular, there are a lot of French learning books you can choose from! Let’s take a look at the best ones.
To make this list, I researched the best books available to learn French. Then I compared their features to see what they excelled at and who would benefit from using them. As a French learner myself, I thought about if I would enjoy using these books or not. I also looked at reviews from other French learners to see if it truly is a high-quality choice and compiled the best options into this list.
So without further delay, here are the best books to help you learn French.
|Best Overall French Book||Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One|
|Best for Beginners||French All-in-One for Dummies|
|Best for French Grammar||Easy French Step-by-Step|
|Best for Speaking and Communication||The Berlitz Self-Teacher|
|Best for Self-Study||The Ultimate French Review and Practice|
|Best for Daily Practice||French Grammar for Beginners|
|Best for Pronunciation||Exercises in French Phonics|
|Best for Verb Conjugations||La Conjugaison Pour Tous|
|Best for Creating a Study Plan||Fluent in French|
Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One is a compilation of 7 different workbooks pulled together into one comprehensive source. It focuses on grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. There are hundreds of practice exercises.
This book is best for people that already know a little French, or want a refresher, and are looking to brush up on some of the more complicated aspects of French grammar. Reviewers liked the in-depth grammar explanations. You can read more about what they had to say here.
- Covers all language skills
- Seven workbooks in one
- Bonus mobile app with audio and flashcards
French All-in-One for Dummies is a comprehensive resource that will take you from a basic to an intermediate level. It’s the best book for beginners because it starts off with the basics and walks you through the French fundamentals.
Because it’s six books compiled into one, it covers the important aspects of French including vocabulary, grammar, and communication in everyday situations. The additional audio CD or audio downloads let you hear correct French pronunciation. You can learn more about the book here.
- 6 books in 1
- Practice all the important language skills
- Audio CD to practice listening and pronunciation
While some might argue the word “easy” in the title is a misnomer, Easy French Step-by-Step is a guide that focuses on high-frequency words and grammar. By the end of the book, you’ll know over 300 verbs and how to use them. The book is progressive so each chapter builds on what you’ve previously learned.
Reviewers thought the book was best for learners that already know a little bit of French or are using it as a refresher. Some also said it’s best used in combination with a French language app or other resource with audio so you’ll also improve your listening and pronunciation. You can read more about what they thought here.
- Learn more than 300 verbs
- Practice exercises and readings
- Builds your knowledge progressively
The Berlitz Self-Teacher has a unique method of studying French because it focuses on speaking right from the very beginning. The idea is that you study the lesson and the examples given, and then you practice what you learned by speaking out loud. They call this “thinking in French.”
The book is designed to be used with a partner or in a small group, but a self-taught learner can benefit as well. They must still complete the speaking exercises out loud and then they can check their answers by writing them down. Reviewers found the book to be useful and a good choice for beginners. See what other reviewers had to say here.
- Short, quick lessons
- Oral speaking exercises
- Makes you think in French
The Ultimate French Review and Practice is a “total grammar study program.” Throughout the 29 lessons, you are walked through the most important grammar explanations and vocabulary. There are also many practice exercises with an answer key included so you can check your answers.
The updated edition comes with a mobile app that has additional practices like flashcards, quizzes, and audio so you can hear how French is spoken. Reviewers thought the book was comprehensive and concise, and many used it in their French classes at school. Read more about what they thought of the book here.
- Clearly explains important grammar topics
- Hundreds of practice exercises with answer key
- Mobile app available with additional practice exercises
French Grammar for Beginners has 30 lessons that explain the difficult points of grammar in a clear and concise way. It takes a straight-to-the-point approach to teach the important rules and exceptions. There’s also an embedded workbook inside so there are practice questions in each lesson.
The book is divided into 30 lessons and is meant to be an overview of French grammar for beginners. The book also comes with extensive audio so you can practice your listening and pronunciation skills. Reviewers liked the layout of the book and the conciseness of the lessons. See what other reviewers thought here.
- Clear grammar explanations
- Integrated workbook
- Included audio for additional practice
Exercises in French Phonics is a deep dive into how to correctly pronounce words in French. At 79 pages, it’s short and sweet but packs all the essential pronunciation rules into one resource. It covers topics such as nasal sounds, silent letters, and letters pronounced irregularly.
This book is best for serious learners and isn’t meant for a casual learner looking to pick up a few words and phrases. People who purchased the book liked the insightful explanations and the tips and tricks given. See what other reviewers had to say here.
- Covers all important pronunciation topics
- Very detailed
La Conjugaison Pour Tous is THE reference for conjugating French verbs. It’s divided into 4 parts that carefully explain how the rules work and uses diagrams to associate similar types of verbs so you can remember the conjugations.
While recently updated, this book has been around for a long time. Even native French speakers use it in school. It currently has a 4.8 rating with almost 4,000 reviews and is recommended by French and English speakers alike. See what other people thought about the book here.
- Shows how to conjugate each type of verb
- 105 conjugation tables
- Mind maps that help you remember grammar rules and verb groupings
Fluent in French is a guide that shows you how to learn French and create your own study plan. It gives valuable tips and tricks to learning French as well as helpful techniques to increase your fluency. It compiles lists of different resources you can use to create a learning plan that you’ll want to stick with.
Reviewers liked this book because it helped them stay motivated and overcome the plateau that most language learners face at some point. They also enjoyed the complementary audiobook that’s included. You can read more about Fluent in French here.
- Helps motivate you to study French
- Lists tons of resources
- Additional audiobook
Using books to learn French is an easy and effective way to learn the language. They included detailed explanations that thoroughly cover the most important topics of French. It’s also a good resource to take, and study, almost anywhere. Thanks to technology, many books now include CDs or access to online audio clips so you can hear correct French pronunciation.
Using a book to learn French is best used as part of an established study routine. Dedicating a few minutes every day or a few times a week to focus on studying will help you see continual improvement. If you’re using a book you purchased (not from the library) it’s a good idea to highlight topics you want to remember or make notes on items you want to investigate more. Make it your own!
While books are quite comprehensive and give detailed descriptions, it’s best to use them alongside other study methods such as French language apps or online French courses. Books excel at teaching grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure, but to practice listening and speaking, another resource with technological capabilities might be a better option.
Using one or more of the books on this list can be a valuable addition to any French learning routine. But just buying the book isn’t enough. It’s best to establish a set time to study without distractions. You can also combine books with other ways to learn French so that you can practice all the language skills necessary to become fluent. You’ll be speaking French très bien in no time!
Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One is the best book for learning French because it’s the most comprehensive and covers all areas of language learning. But it’s meant for people that already have some knowledge of French. If you're a beginner, French All-in-One for Dummies is a similar choice that covers all the same topics but is geared towards a lower level.
The best way to learn French on your own is to use a variety of resources. Using a book, such as the ones on this list, is a great way to practice grammar and vocabulary. But to practice other skills, such as speaking and listening, another resource such as a language app or online class might be a better option. The good news is that there are tons of resources available.
Yes, reading books can definitely help you learn French! If you are a beginner, you might benefit from a comprehensive French language guide that teaches the most important aspects of grammar and vocabulary. Once you reach an intermediate to advanced level, you can read literature that was originally written in French, such as Les Miserables and Le Petit Prince.
According to the U.S. Department of State, it takes 33 weeks (or 750 class hours) to reach a proficient level of French. French is considered an easy language for English speakers to learn because the two languages share many similarities. If you know a language that is similar to French, such as Spanish or Italian, you might be able to learn even faster.
To see how long it will take you to learn French, check out this fluency calculator.