MyFrenchLife™ member survey results: what is the best way to learn French?

MyFrenchLife™ member survey results: what's the best way to learn French?

The hardest part of anything is always getting started. Knowing which direction to take, and what you need to know to get there is tricky! Learning French is no different. The biggest question still remains ‘What is the best way to learn French’?

As we’ve already explored, everyone has a different reason for learning French, and different goals they’d like to achieve. But how do you get there? It all depends on what stage you’re at, and what learning style suits you best.

So, we decided to throw this question out to you, our members. We put together a special membership survey to find out what makes MyFrenchLife™ members tick when it comes to learning French. We wanted to hear your stories; how you’re struggling, being challenged, inspired and rewarded by this adventure.

According to our community, when it comes to figuring out the best way to learn French, which approach comes out on top? Let’s find out…

What learning style will work best for you?

howdomemberslearn2If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably trying tirelessly to effectively communicate in French. And, you already know that learning French is a lot trickier than it sounds…

There are so many different options out there that they can seem overwhelming and for some, not at all helpful. Many of us struggle to find a style of teaching that suits us.

We find ourselves constantly frustrated by the same mistakes and errors we can’t seem to overcome!

As this is such a universal headache, we have written many articles discussing the most effective ways of learning French. This time, we thought we’d ask you! So according to our members, which is better: private tuition vs. group classes?

Private tuition

A good proportion of our community finds that courses and classes are best complimented by one-on-one classes.

One of the biggest advantages of one-on-one classes is that you as the student dictate exactly what you want to learn.

What’s more, it will be at your own pace, so you don’t need to fear falling behind. The more personal aspect of private tuition is something that has some of our community members preaching its merits when it comes to learning French.

Of those Francophiles we surveyed, there emerged two distinct groups of private tuition preferences: a private conversation with a French native speaker versus private lessons with a trained French teacher as a method of complimenting classes and courses.

1. Private conversation with a Francophone

According to our members, conversation sessions with a Francophone are great because they are much more casual and directed by you. They are generally cheaper than attending group sessions coming in at around $45-$60 AUD or $25- $50 USD an hour. It is also a great way to meet some French expats living in your home city!

These sessions are usually entirely focused on learning French conversational skills and will enhance your confidence in general conversation skills tenfold. Further, the hours are usually quite flexible to fit in around your busy schedule.

Where to look…

In Australia or the UK, many Francophones advertise on Gumtree, so check it out for more information.

In the USA have a look at Craigslist, while in France check out the French version of the same site or Leboncoin also a popular site for classifieds.

French conversation - learn French

2. Private French lessons with a teacher

Some of our members prefer learning French with a trained teacher, for a more well-rounded education. Again there tends to be a definite focus on conversational skills, but with a teacher, any questions you may have in regards to learning French grammar and written expression can be explained as well. A private tutor will focus on strengths and weaknesses specific to you and together you can concentrate on achieving your personal objectives.

Again, their hours are likely to be more flexible than a course if you need to reschedule last minute. Unlike informal lessons with a francophone, however, one-on-one lessons with a professional teacher tend to be on the more expensive side – and understandably so.

Where to look…

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, most local language schools also offer private tuition for learning French. Alliance Française is a fantastic port of call in any major city around the world, and in Melbourne have a look at Alliance FrançaiseAlmaje Language School, Lyceum and more.

The French Embassy in the United States also recommends Alliance Française as an excellent place to start, listing the major language schools by city.

In the UK, the Institut Français also offers a wide range of classes and should be able to help you find a private tutor. Even if these schools do not offer private tutors for learning French, they will often be able to give you the contact numbers of some.

Group tuition

The majority of those surveyed found that a formal course, coupled with an informal conversation group works best in learning French.

The main advantage of a formal course is the structured coursework that leads towards a specific objective of obtaining a certain language level (following the DELF grading system). Supplementing these structured courses with a more informal conversation meet-up is a great way to improve in all areas.

1. Informal conversation groups

Our members love the MyFrenchLife conversation groups we run in Melbourne because it’s a great chance to meet like-minded Francophiles as well as Francophones. An added bonus is practicing your conversation skills at the same time! They are a fabulous way to get into the habit of speaking French regularly while indulging in French delights like a chocolat chaud accompanied by a hot croissant ou un verre de vin.

Where to look…

In Melbourne, MyFrenchLife runs a French conversation group French conversation in Melbourne via the Meetup platform with events every month.

If you live further afield or elsewhere in Australia, the Alliance française often runs conversation groups with weekly meetings. Again, if you are struggling to find a group, give your local branch of Alliance Française a call and they should be able to recommend some groups to you.

Otherwise, you’re sure to find similar groups to ours in other cities on Meetup!

Judy MacMahon 05.05.14 learning French

2. Formal French lessons

The structured nature of French courses works best for those who are striving to achieve a DELF recognised level of the language but also to provide that important sold grounding in the language.

Structured lessons will incorporate the important aspects of grammar along with the arguably more enjoyable conversation component. With the number of language schools out there, our members haven’t found it too hard to find the language level and a course time that suits them.

What’s more, being beholden to a class is more of a commitment than self-dictating class times with a private tutor. Tackling problems as a group can make them less daunting – don’t worry, it’s not just you who runs scared at the word subjonctif ! With trained teachers with an interest in developing each student according to their abilities, it’s no wonder that group tuition is still very popular.

Where to look…

Again the Alliance Française always receives high praise from our community, particularly due to the integrated complimentary activities like cooking classes and cinema visits.

Most universities and community colleges (such as CAE or U3A in Australia) run short language courses for learning French, structured around obtaining DELF levels. If you’re in Chicago, you’re in luck – check out our guide.

… But what is the best way to learn French?

Don’t hate us for sitting on the fence on this one – it really depends on your personal learning style.

The majority of our community seem to enjoy going along to courses, at least at some stage in their French language learning career. Then again, our members who preach private tuition found that group classes really just didn’t work for them and now they are never going back!

Judy MacMahon 05.05.14 learning French

Don’t just presume there is one answer to this question; seek out different methods of learning to suit you. Assess and define your personal goals and tailor your learning experience to them.

Happy French learning!

From your experiences, what have you found the best way to learn French? What’s been the most effective – private or group learning? or how do you combine these? Share your thoughts about learning French in the comments section below.

Read more from our community survey results series…
2. Your favourite apps and websites for learning French
3. Why are you learning French?

Image credits
2. Street Art, Mark Roy via Flickr.
3. Wall of Quotes, Daniel Jolivet via Flickr.
4. Dictionaries, Tim Green via Flickr.

NOTE: This popular article was refreshed and republished in 2021

Further reading:
1. Amazing French learning Apps and tools 
2. Top French learning Apps and tools 
3. Top Apps and resources for learning French

NOTE: This popular article was refreshed and republished in 2021

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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  1. Elise Mellor Jul 4, 2014 at 3:40 PM - Reply

    You’re all wrong – the best way to learn French is on a beach in the South of France, with a dashing Frenchman as our private tutor. If he can double as a champagne waiter, so much the better 😉

  2. Selina Sykes Jul 5, 2014 at 1:59 AM - Reply

    Even though I had started learning French aged 11, I have got to agree with Elise – I was very good at French before living there, but I became truly fluent when I lived in Paris (with lessons off a certain Frenchman!)

  3. Mary Hoekzema Jul 5, 2014 at 4:28 AM - Reply

    If living in France isn’t a possibility, I found the multi-media program French in Action extremely effective. I am still far from fluent after supplementing FIA with Rosetta Stone, Baron’s French language course, a second-year university course, a three-week immersion course in Montréal, numerous podcasts, and now, individual lessons on Skype. Fluency, I suspect, will require some extended time in France. I can’t wait.

  4. Ellen Burns Jul 24, 2014 at 2:20 PM - Reply

    I’m sure the best way to learn French is to grow up in a French-speaking home, alas we aren’t all so lucky! I think any method is effective if it’s ongoing and something you’re passionate about. Practice makes perfect as they say… I personally think I speak my best French while chatting to a French speaker after a few glasses of something.. 😉

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