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What other resources are you using with DuoLingo to develop your French language skills

I really like DuoLingo and find that for the first time I am looking forward to working on French grammar and writing. I also want to develop my conversational French skills and am looking at two resources -- CoffeeBreak French (free) and French in Action by Capretz (paid). Does anyone have any tips or recommended resources they use for developing a strong conversational base quickly. Many thanks.

April 7, 2013



I have been using Coffee Break French and Duolingo. I also found the "Bookbox" app that tells stories in multiple languages. They have a French version of the stories too. They also have subtitles in the language. It is for children but I find that is good for my level of comprehension!


French in Action videos are available free streaming at www.learner.org/resources/series83.html I always enjoyed them on PBS back in the 80s and am glad to be able to view them all in order. Duolingo is totally lacking in explanations and I find some things cannot be learned simply by example. French.about.com has a wealth of well-written explanations and examples. I also have a few books on French for lookups when I'm stuck. I'm not familiar with Coffee Break, I'll go look for it - thanks for the tip. I've tried watching a few movies with the French setting but can't catch any words. Things like news are easier.


Thanks for that. I am working my way through the FIA videos now and have ordered the book. It is quite amazing how much you can get from the context - very cleverly done. Duolingo is definitely helping me write and sort out the accents, agreements and grammar issues. I find it pretty good overall and keep coming back to make progress in the "gaming" environment. I am also quite lost when it comes to movies and shows so tend to watch them with the French subtitles on so I end up getting a lot of it.


The resources I found most helpful while studying French were Michel Thomas, Assimil, French in Action, and Pimsleur. I also dabbled into a variety of podcasts (like CoffeeBreak French, RFI, etc.) and opened up grammar books and websites when I got stuck on something particular. After completing those I was at a high enough level where using native materials became possible. Still always learning though.


Thanks for the tip on Michel Thomas - I heard a sample of his stuff the other day and think it would be worth a try. Are you still using the Duolingo French program and intend to complete it? I am finding it very slow going now that I am at level 9/10 and am into a lot of words and grammar that are new to me. I wonder if it worth pushing ahead to the higher levels or maybe spend more time on French In Action first. Did you use the full set of materials for French in Action - book, videos and workbooks?


Since you said you want to focus on conversation first and foremost, Michel Thomas and Pimsleur would be very helpful towards that. Michel Thomas for the grammar breakdown and Pimsleur for the accent and thinking quick.

I abandoned Duolingo 6+ months ago because it got too tedious and frustrating. As you probably have encountered, at the higher levels the translations are far from perfect. I was sending in error reports all the time. It felt like I was beta testing the service. I can't complain since it's free, but I find Duolingo more helpful at the lower levels (that's why I came back a few days ago to begin Spanish). Honestly, I probably won't ever finish the skill tree. I don't get any gratification from completing it or gaining points. I'm not one of those types of people. I'd rather spend my time watching a real French movie or TV show, listening and reading with an audiobook, or actually engaging in a conversation.

For FIA, I watched all the videos through once without the materials when I was just a beginner. It was very difficult but it tunes your ear to the language. You should be listening as much as you can to authentic French speakers and not computer voices like on Duolingo. I went through FIA a second time with the written materials a few months later and by that time I could understand most of it, but would also check the transcript when the characters slurred their language. It can still be tricky to follow along on some parts but that's authentic speaking so you might as well get used to it.


Am watching the FIA videos through once and then will go back and work through them with the materials. I was thinking of doing either Pimsleur or the Foreign Service Institute program to tune my accent and develop conversational "reflexes" - I heard Pimsleur was a bit tedious at times and the FSI may be a bit better. I will give Duolingo a few more weeks and see how it goes. It certainly is uncovering my vocabulary and grammar weaknesses.

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