Several tools to learn French

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Together, we are going to talk about the tools you should already be using if you are learning French. What would a carpenter be without his tool ? Well, this is the same thing for you, as a language learner you are not supposed to know everything. But, if there is one thing you need to know, is your way around those tools. Be careful, I am talking about tools, no resources. Tools are websites, app, books that you are going to use to do one specific task. Resources are places you go to practice, for example, YouTube videos are resources, books that you are going to read in French are resources, TV shows, movies are resources. Tools are dictionary, Thesaurus, app to check the pronunciation, etc… Clear enough now ? Let’s get started in because you should already be using these six tools.

Word Reference

The first tool that we are going to talk about is word reference, because a good dictionary is essential to learning. But it’s even better if you can have the dictionary online. So you don’t have to carry around a huge book. Word Reference is a website that is basically an english french – french english dictionary, but it does even more than that. You can use it whenever you have a doubt. You don’t know where you can find the right word, or you don’t know how to pronounce something. Because Word Reference is way more than a dictionary. And we are going to see that together, just right now okay ? So, this is the dictionary entry for vendange, that means « great harvest » in English. Now, one thing that I want to show you before we look at the actual dictionary entry, is that you can listen to the pronunciation over here : Canadian or French accent. So, that’s already super great but what interests us, what is interesting for us is this, all of this section. But, this in particular. So, you can have several transcriptions of the same word or composed forms of word, okay ? So, make sure to check those little symbols, here, this one tells you that this is a feminine noun, okay ? So, the composed verb, the composed form of the word etc,… Right ? You now have a dictionary works, right ? It is my number one tool and I recommend it to anyone learning French. Whatever your goals, your level or your learning style is. Also, what is nice about reference event, it’s not only French-English, English-French. You have tones of languages. So, if you are a language learning, that you like languages, it’s really worth it to know.


The second tool is also a dictionary. Sometimes Word Reference is not going to find the word that you need, and it can be frustrating. So, that’s where Linguee is useful. Not only it is a dictionary, but it also has a function that Word Reference doesn’t have : transcriptions in context. That means under the usual dictionary entry, you will get a series of sentences, generally from government sources like website or certified translated to text. And they are translated for you, they are in both languages. That’s pretty cool if you are looking for a specific term, that Word Reference doesn’t know. In most cases you won’t need Linguee unless you’re looking for a technical or specific word. Also Word Reference it is an application.

L’Obs la conjugaison

The different group verbs, the exceptions, the subjunctive, etc… right ? It’s quite hard to wrap your head around in conjugation in the first place, but it’s even harder to use it correctly when you’re speaking. So, that’s where a tool that like la conjugaison comes in. It’s pretty simple, you just enter a verb in the search bar and the website is going to work for you and give you all the verb tenses and the forms possible. That’s pretty cool, right ? There is several tools like that on the internet but I like this one in particular because of the layout.

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It’s a basically a dictionary of conjugation, so you can imagine the faces of French people when teachers actually asked to take out the Bescherelle. So, let’s show you how it works. This is the Bescherelle, this is the best friend I have, but anyway. This is how it looks like, it’s pretty similar to La Conjugaison, except, well, you have the verb here, and then you have all the verb forms here and here. So, indicatif, subjonctif, impératif, conditionnel, infinitif, participe passé, gérondif. The only problem with the Bescherelle, is that it’s a set list of words, it’s a set list of verb, you don’t have all the verbs in there. So, that’s why the internet one is probably better. Let me show you how it works because it’s not necessary very straight forward. So, with a book that is like that you won’t have all the verbs. You will have all the verbs forms. So, you will have examples, examples with how you are supposed to conjugate them. For example, this one it is the verb assiéger, which is a verb of the first group en –éger. So, this is how you go into conjugates the verbs. And at the end you have, what is interesting for you also as a language learner, it is an index or a list of that is more complete than the list at the beginning. They tell you which example you should take to conjugate. I hope that’s clear. I’m not sure that’s super clear for you. But anyway, this is a Bescherelle. Obviously you don’t have to invest in a Bescherelle if you have access to the internet all the time. Because you have amazing tools like the one we saw just before, La conjugaison.

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The next tool that we are going to talk about is Scribens. I’m not sure if I’m saying it right, but anyway. If you’re writing an email in French to someone, or a comment and you really don’t want to get it wrong. You can check out your French spelling and grammar on Scribens. You need to go on the website, though as the extension is a premium feature. But, it’s really worth of going to another website to paste your text just to make sure that what you wrote is grammatically correct. Now, obviously you want to catch everything, but it’s a good start.

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And the final tool which can be a bit surprising is Google. I didn’t say Google Translate, but Google. In general, when I have a doubt about a verb form or spelling. I simply just type what I think is right in Google, and if it’s wrong I’ll have a suggestion, and if it’s right I’ll have examples of sentences in which my form is used. So, I can check out that the context is the same. Now, if you are going to type a verb form, remember to put the subject with it.

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Google translate

Now, on the note of Google Translate. It can be a useful tool in is getting better and better. But, don’t use it to make complete sentences from English to French. No, you can use it as a translator from French to English to understand a broad meaning if you want. But, be mindful, please, of the punctuation though, because it is very important for a good translation by google translate, that the punctuation is right. You can use it as a dictionary, but please, keep in mind that for the same words you have several transcriptions and I advise you to use Word Reference rather than Google Translate as a dictionary.

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Thomas 😀

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