We find the best resources for brushing up your language skills.
On a recent holiday to France, I was reminded how monolingual the British are as a nation. In a gift shop in Colmar, I saw how a French teenager chatted to two British customers in near-perfect English while they made no attempt to even utter the words ‘ merci’ or ‘ au revoir’.
Learning a language has many benefits and with such a wealth of resources, there really is no excuse not to give French a go.
If getting to grips with the basics is your main objective, try Eyewitness Travel Phrase Book French (Dorling Kindersley, £4.99). This easy-to-use survival guide covers everyday travel situations and comes with a free audio app which allows you to listen to essential words spoken aloud by native speakers.
Learning French pronunciation is key to gaining confidence in the language, which is where the phonetique.free.fr website comes in handy. It offers phonetic exercises that will help you master the sounds and rhythms of French. If audio-visual learning is a priority, Fluentu French (fluentu.com) will prove rewarding. This popular website teaches learners through authentic, real-life videos that cover everything from French TV commercials and music channels to news bulletins and film trailers. Those who prefer purely visual learning will get plenty out of the Berlitz French Picture Dictionary (Berlitz, £6.99). The book features more than 2,000 illustrated words and phrases organised in 12 thematic chapters that include the home, work, food and leisure. Learning the traditional way by taking a course at a French language school is also rewarding, especially when combined with a holiday in France. Institut Linguistique Adenet (ila-france.com), based in the Mediterranean city of Montpellier, provides week-long programmes that focus on effectively communicating in French in real-life situations. Courses (from €220) include visits to cultural attractions, which give an excellent insight into French life.