The best books to learn French

Some learners need books and textbooks to guide them in their learning. A book may seem a bit paradoxical when you want to learn to speak a language. However, the advantages of a manual are varied. Here is an overview of the best French books, textbooks and guides available lately.

Some learners need books and textbooks to guide them in their learning. A book may seem a bit paradoxical when you want to learn to speak a language. However, the advantages of a manual are varied.

Here is an overview of the best French books, textbooks and guides available lately. 

Why use a book to learn a language? 

There are many advantages using a book to learn a language. However, a distinction must be made between textbooks, guides and other works, such as literary texts, for example. 

French textbooks

In general, textbooks are part of an educational package. They allow the learner to guide his or her learning, to have a picture of their knowledge and the content learned. 

Writing in a textbook makes learning more personal and active

They often represent a general vision of the French civilization and the French-speaking world available to everyone, regardless of their mother tongue. In the classroom, the textbook is also a common reference point for everyone, which often breaks down language barriers and borders.

Finally, the textbook transmits the culture of French through its diversities. Learners also need to know social codes and rituals of the people whose language they’re learning, to ensure a good understanding of the acts of communication and to avoid any kind of cultural shock or misunderstanding.


Conversation guides

Everyone has a handy conversation guide in their library or smartphone. For all languages, the Assimil methods or the famous French For Dummies have proved their worth. But what are their advantages? 

First of all, there is a wide range of possibilities in the choice of guides about the language; general French, slang, daily French… and this is very practical. 

The guide also gives you all the key expressions translated into your language. 

The only downside is that a beginner should already know a minimum of pronunciation and grammar to use the conversation guide with profit, even if there are explanatory chapters on these subjects. A completed A1 level is a good compromise to tackle them, especially for a learner whose original script is not the Latin alphabet.

Learning by reading 

Reading allows us to enrich our vocabulary and to work on our grammar. It is important to choose your books accordingly to your level. If you are a beginner, do not start with a long and complicated novel. Choose books that interest you, that you would normally read in your mother tongue, and then move on to more complex works. This Hachette Fle collection opens the door to a series of novels classified according to their level of difficulty, for example. Lectures CLE en français facile offers classic French works in a lighter format. 

Don’t neglect the pleasure aspect, choose a book that makes you want to read. If you don’t like to spend time on novels and fiction, you can always read articles, magazines, smaller reading formats but just as interesting for learning. 

Bilingual books

Bilingual books are an excellent complement to classroom or online learning. Just like listening to podcasts or watching series, reading is an excellent way to progress in a language. Reading a bilingual book adapted to the age and level of the reader allows the language to be assimilated in a different way and to acquire other more precise notions.

In addition, it helps you to improve your spelling, and you will also have a better knowledge of the grammatical particularities that may exist in different contexts (everyday language, formal language, etc.), leading you to develop a very rich vocabulary in a field that you have chosen. Finally, for many people, it is easier to assimilate new idioms in reading. These language-specific expressions, which make sense not by translating each word but by reading them as a whole, are essential for acquiring a bilingual level in a language. A language cannot be translated word by word, and a bilingual book allows you to synthesize and compare your linguistic knowledge. 


Audio books

They make it easier to read when you don’t have time to immerse yourself in a book. Moreover, when they are well read, audio books carry us away more easily because we are guided by the voice of the storyteller. They are practical and accessible. When traveling, audio books have a major advantage: they do not take up any space. For youngsters, audio books are an alternative to the impression of work and effort that they associate with reading. 

Finally, as it is difficult to be with several people over a page, an audio book can of course be listened to in a group and then used to exchange and practise French directly.


What are the best books for learning French?

We are going to present you with a list of recent books and textbooks that allow you to practice your French independently. Don’t hesitate to talk to your French teachers who will be able to advise you. 

Let’s get digital

In this day and age, it is necessary for books to be digital. In the age of tablets and laptops, there is no longer any question of going through an exclusively paper book. Inspire is  a new generation of digital textbooks that can be easily used on tablets and smartphones. The “Techniques for…” pages develop autonomy in French, both oral and writing. Forget CDs and DVDs, all resources are dematerialised, but if you wish, the paper book is available.

Professional French

If you need to learn professional French, Objectif Express has just been published. The new 2022 edition is in digital format. From now on, the manual offers Internet links and preparation for professional French exams. – Niveau avancé (B2-C1) has updated its edition and increased the learning level. It is now possible to learn professional French at a C1 level. Don’t forget that this level is increasingly necessary to get into top schools and to be able to find a job more easily in France in the face of competition.

Focus on grammar 

Another collection that allows you to learn French independently is the Grammaire Progressive du Français, available for all levels. The “Progressive” series also offers textbooks on vocabulary, civilization, literature, communication and phonetics. Please note that the answer keys are not provided and that you must buy them separately. 

Hachette Fle offers the collection Les 500 Exercices de Grammaire which allows you to work on your own. The answers are provided at the end of the textbook.

Books for test preparation

Are you thinking of taking French language exams such as Delf, Dalf, TCF…? Didier FLE has just launched a new series of test preparation manuals that meet the new requirements. Indeed, since 2020, the French language assessments have changed.

The advantage of this collection is once again the digital format which is accessible.  


What about literature ? 

These Fle novels will allow you to enter the French language at your own pace while respecting your level of French: A1, A2, B1 and B2. The choice is very varied, from simple fictions to the great classics of French literature. In addition to the text, you have a file that allows you to practice your comprehension. Answers are included. And to complete the package, a CD.

Unless you want to try something more challenging.

Finally, if you are looking for audio books, there are specialized platforms such as Audible which give access to a large catalogue of books that you can find on all your devices (smartphone, tablet, computer). If you want to try listening to an audiobook, Audible also offers a trial with a free book.

The book is a universal tool for learning a language quickly: reading is the easiest way to access an unlimited number of new words and expressions. And visualising the terms stimulates the brain. 

With this selection of the best books and manuals, you hold all the cards to master French without any problems!

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