There’s no doubt about it – the best way to learn French is to be surrounded by it. This can be done a lot of ways, but the most popular misconception is that you need to live in France. While it certainly makes things easier, as a language coach with more than five thousand hours of experience, I can tell you, it is still possible to immerse yourself in French. Here’s how!

01 // Get a Language Coach

French is no walk in the park – and speaking it is kind of like preparing for a marathon – it takes time and effort, and some days, you just won’t want to do it. You need a motivator, a person who pushes you and guides you through the pronunciation, grammar and subtleties in vocabulary that can be particularly tricky when you are left to fend for yourself. Online coaches are particularly good because they are so flexible, as you don’t need to travel and you can learn from home, while at the office and even while on holiday.

02 // Learn With a Friend

Another great way to speak a lot is to find a friend you see regularly who also wants to learn French, learn together and, most importantly, only speak French together. In fact, this is exactly what identical twins Matthew and Michael from Manchester did, and they were able to converse in Turkish in just a week.

03 // Describe Your Daily Routine in French

The concept is really easy simple. From the moment you wake up in the morning, to the time you go to bed, describe everything you are doing in French. This includes brushing your teeth, chewing your food, watching TV and phoning a friend. You can even practice as a third-person to improve your grammar.

04 // Cover Your Home in French Post-Its

Simple and effective. Buy a big pack of post-it notes a label everything in your house, from doors and tables to ornaments and utensils. Best not to stick any post-its to the cat though!

05 // Change Your Phone and Laptop to French

You’ll learn useful words like “send,” “delete,” “edit,” “message,” “cancel,” without even opening a textbook and all sorts of other interesting words related to your digital life.

06 // Listen to French radio

There are a lot of great radio apps out there. I suggest using and look for French under languages. You’ll have a huge choice between music, talk and sports.

07 // Listen to French podcasts

Depending on your level of French, you have a huge variety to choose from. If you are advanced, you could choose the harder shows from Radio France that are meant for native speakers or choose shows that designed to learn French such as News in Slow French.

08 // Listen to French music

Don’t underestimate the power of music! It’s perfect for repetition and practicing your pronunciation. After listening to a song over and over, you’ll start to memorise the lyrics, and eventually pick up the dictionary and look up words you don’t know. So now, you just have to find the right songs. If you enjoy classics, try listening to La Vie En Roseby by Edith Piaf and Sous le Ciel de Parisby Yves Montand. For more catchy pop tunes try Kyo’s Il Est Tempsby or Joyce Jonathan’s Ça ira. If you’re more into hip hop, try songs like Manau – La Tribu De Dana.

09 // Watch French TV

Local TV allows you to hear French used as it really is in a conversation environment. While most common TV channels such as TF1, France 2, and Arte can be viewed easily by removing geographical restrictions with VPN software, you can also use a few internet-based television subscription services that allow remote computer viewing of local TV worldwide such as FilmOn. YouTube and Netflix are a treasure trove for language learning. Try finding familiar shows such as Friends dubbed in French so that you understand what is going on even before you start listening or if you want to be more adventurous, more local shows such as Dix Pour Centor Les Revenants. Some shows will also allow you to read the subtitles in French too, helping you break down the sentences.

10 // Play Video Games in French.

If you are a fan of video games, nearly all modern ones come with the option to change the language to French, and what better way to learn than when your life depends upon it.

11 // Read French newspapers and magazines

Get your daily dose of events by reading it in French! There are wonderful websites that release new daily content that is especially made for learners. For example, Radio France Internationale (RFI) offers a simplified daily summary of international news in both audio and text format. Other sites such as 1 Jour 1 Actu or Le Journal Des Enfants are especially fun to read as they are designed to entice French teenagers to read about important current events. Make sure to check out the amazing animated video content on 1 Jour 1 Actu’sLes info animées. Great for reinforcing the news you read in an audio-visual format!

12 // Read French books

If you are an avid reader, try swapping your books to French. If you are advanced, this is an easy shift – just order a book from the wide selection of French books on platforms such as Amazon. You can even reread books that you love in French instead. For beginner and intermediate learners, the choice is also endless – especially if using graded readers. What are graded readers? They are books designed to be read at your language level and geared toward increasing your vocabulary and grammar ability. For example, if you are a beginner, you can read books at a beginner level which are usually marked with either an A1 or A2 on the front cover. If you are an intermediate student, choose B1 and B2 level books. These are usually simplified versions of novels such as The Count of Monte Cristo and often come with an audio CD for you to practice your pronunciation.

13 // Cook in French

If you like cooking, while not invest in a few French cooking books. These too can easily be found on Amazon, and a great start would be the Grand Livre De Cuisine written by one of the most prolific figures in modern French cuisine is Alain Ducasse.

14 // Find a French Friend

As well as getting a language coach, you can find French people who want to learn English and are willing do a series of conversation exchanges, whereby, you talk for an hour in French and then you talk for an hour in English. Remember though, it’s got to be fair and take a ‘no English’ or ‘no French’ pledge at the beginning of each exchange. You can also use websites like Livemocha or HelloTalk to help you find people who offer conversation exchanges. If that doesn’t work for you, there are local groups or cultural foundations such as the Alliance Française which often host events where you are highly likely to find French people willing to do a language exchange. Universities are also a good cultural hub – most of them have clubs or international exchange programs where study abroad students will be delighted to help you out in exchange for help with their English.

15 // Keep a Diary

One of the most effective ways to start writing in French is to keep a French diary. Diaries are good because they help you practice the words and grammar of your daily routine. If you have a language coach, you can get them to review it regularly so that you don’t keep on repeating your mistakes.

If you’re not into diaries, you can also write out a series of short fictional dialogues or conversations and then get them corrected by a native speaker. They could be dialogues you think up when you are shopping or when you go out to the movies, commenting on what the movie was like. You can then use this library of dialogues to help you in the future, whether it’s when you are travelling or when you go out with a French person.

If your coach doesn’t have the time to check all your written work, there are loads of places where you can submit a piece of writing and get it corrected by a native speaker. Try sites like Lang-8. All you need to do is submit the piece in French. You get it corrected in return for correcting someone else’s writing in English. Hurray!
Lastly, you can get a pen pal.  There are now a lot of sites or apps to choose from including the HelloTalk app, where you can find people ready to exchange writing.

16 // Stay Motivated!

The most important thing is that you enjoy all the things you do in French, otherwise you may lose the stamina that is so important in immersion. Take it a day at a time, knowing that everyday things will get a little easier as your routine starts to kick in. Words and phrases will start becoming familiar, and you’ll find that you understand so much more than when you first started.