First Day of French, What I Would Have Done....

Language is a young man's game. I'm talking four, six years old at the most. Since you're an "older gentleman", I'd suggest you do what wise men do...they learn the system and "work it". If you ain't cheating, you ain't let's get to it.

These are the essential tools and files you need to collect before you start learning French, on your own. You may be learning using Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, Babbel, RocketLanguage, Fluenz, and others that are reviewed here:,2817,2381904,00.asp

I would like you to consider at the very minimum augmenting your study with Duolingo. You should register here:

Next, I want you to get a French textbook, that is free, and surprisingly good for 1917. In fact this was the classic textbook at the time, and now thanks to Project Gutenberg, you can have a copy in PDF it may take a while to load, so be patient.

You'll be reading the first few chapters before you do any work on Duolingo. This textbook is written like a rule-book with examples, in a particular order, and it is excellent. There are even hidden gems, like his use of the English "thou". The author does this to show that the French "tu" is the equivalent to thou (not because the English used "thou" in 1917), and "vous" is the equivalent of "you". You must at a minimum have the pronunciation down pat, or you'll say French words wrong in your English speaking mind, and it will stick. Print the text's pronunciation pages 15 - 21. Or go here (has audio examples):

I'd like you to bookmark a website: or

This Wiki was created by Duolingo users, and contains links to their other favorite language websites. You will be using many of them.

Since there are two other free textbooks that are used for first year French students, semesters one and two, let's grab those as well:

Next, I'd like you to download another free program. It's free and found here:

What is Anki? It's a study card program like many others, which uses timed intervals to help you re-inforce what you have learned. It works to improve your memory.

"Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it's a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn." That's what they say. It's an interesting tool, that's what I say.

The program is just under 23 MB in size. Download and can then download an Anki "shared" Deck, and benefit from the work of others. French language decks are found here:

After you have downloaded and installed Anki, I want you to place an add-on program into Anki. We are going to add the power of audio files, using an add-on called, "Awesome TTS" (TTS = Text-to-Speech). After opening Anki, in the "Install Add-on" window, copy and paste 301952613 into the "Code" field and click "OK". The download happens in seconds. Close Anki then re-open. The power to automatically add audio to your files, specifically French speakers reading your card text, is now in your Anki program.

I then suggest you register with Anki (it's free). This will allow you to synchronize your decks across multiple platforms, like your smart phone, and various android devices.

If you wish to become more proficient at Anki, you may find You Tube videos helpful, or you can download this PDF and use it for reference. The download is found at the bottom right, as a picture of the PDF's front cover:

I have created and posted an Anki deck, which covers over 750 infinitive French verbs with audio, here:

After downloading that one, you may also like to download another Anki deck that I created, that covers 1000 essential French travel expressions:

We're now going to start our own MP3 French language collection, so create a directory of your choice, in the location you wish, and go here:

Click the one that says "all mp3s", and you will be downloading 106 MB of audio that is used with the Univeristy of Texas at Austin's French program. In the future, you may be using the site to help explain language rules and grammar. I suggest you also bookmark the index page for their site and take a quick tour of what is available:

Since we're still in the gathering stage, I'd like you to add a program called "DownLoad Them All!" to your Firefox browser.

This program will allow you to right-click at a website and start a download of all of the MP3's found on a website. After installing the program, and restarting your Firefox browser, you are going to do just that, at these websites:

Right-click and choose to Download Them All! and then "Start". Watch the magic happen....incredible isn't it?

We're going to repeat this downloading method, on this other page:

While we're here, I'd like you to bookmark this page:

You will use this page often.

There is one more page that contains 17,000 mp3's, that you will want to have. You will not need the Download Them All! for this one, as it is a zip file. It is found here:

Go down to around mid-page, where you see "Télécharger", which means download. Click it, download, and unzip into your target directory. Now you have scores of words in alphabetical order, in multiple folders. I personally got rid of all the folders, and simply put them all in one folder, so that I could see them alphabetically. When I hear a word I did not understand on Duolingo, I go here and can replay the pronunciation over and over, until I have the sound correct.

Since people just love it when they get something for nothing, Pimsleur has a free section where you can download some of their French MP3s, located here: (You will use Download Them All!)

You may also find a vocabulary index on this site:

And perform MP3 downloads on the page that contains your particular subject interest. Bookmark this site for later.

The BBC has a website filled with MP3s, that you can download.

and their tutor site may interest you:

Let's review what we have...almost every word and phrase you need, in MP3 form, a classic textbook, two other free textbooks that focus on group discussion learning, an on-line course, a memory re-enforcement tool that synchronizes across all platforms, several bookmarks with indexed lessons and discussions on every aspect of French grammar. We're now ready to start Duolingo.

I'd also like you expose you to a few other resources, at the beginning, and you can decide if you wish to use them or not. One is Memrise, and the French section is found here:

Another is a picture-based 1500 word website containing many languages, called Babadum, found here:

There is another on-line flash card maker called Quizlet that you may hear about. You can view an example here:

In the early stages of learning, you may find the basics very helpful, even though you read the first few chapters of that 1917 Textbook. I suggest you look through these websites during your first few weeks:

and the site map page for French.about dot com's website:

and when you see a word that you need pronounced right away, go to Forvo:

That's it for day one. You've gathered a ton of tools in a very short time.

Note: I really could not have done the Anki language addition on my first day since it was made available on 8/15/14.

It would have been wonderful to have been on the cutting edge of self-directed language learning, but that didn't start until a few weeks ago.

August 21, 2014


Omg, I love you, and I don't even know you... Thank you. immensely!

August 21, 2014

Truly amazing! You are a gem! Thanks a bunch!

August 21, 2014

Wow! Amazing collection. Perhaps a tad overwheming for day one though! Or day 80 for that matter. I'm still quite content with just duolingo. Maybe once I have finished my trees....

August 21, 2014

Thanks! Since I will go to France next week your Anki deck really helps. I am not bad at speaking French, but some common phrases might be useful.

August 21, 2014

Thank you very much for the links! The Ba Ba Dum one I find incredibly helpful as I would consider myself a visual learner. Very visually appealing and engaging. I also will attest to the textbook linked from 1917 being incredibly helpful! Initially I struggled with almost all of my French pronunciation but for some reason the guides at the beginning made everything click. While I still make mistakes I feel they're not as common.

However you may want to correct the link for the Useful links for learning or practicing outside of Duolingo as when I click on it it takes me to that page except there isn't any content. Not sure if that was intentional or not.

August 22, 2014

Ça va être parfait pour étudier. Merci beaucoup ;) J'aime ce site:

August 22, 2014

Merci beaucoup ! That is such a great collection of free resources you have put together.

August 22, 2014


August 25, 2014

What a tremendous gift you have given us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

August 21, 2014


August 22, 2014

Online source for words prononciation

A flashcard service with support for mobile devices and ready to use Duolingo card sets

August 22, 2014

Yes, I use Forvo a lot. I'll add that.

August 22, 2014


August 22, 2014

Wow, what a fantastic list of resources! I like the look of memrise, I'll sign up for that. I earned 3 lingots for French today and I've given them to you as thanks for this big help. Merci beaucoup!

August 22, 2014

Was anyone able to download the French Textbook? So they could maybe send me the pdf?

August 23, 2014

I just downloaded it and zipped it so you can download it here:

September 19, 2014

Thank you for your wonderful sharing.

August 24, 2014

Lingots pls

August 25, 2014

I have a question... is duolingo based on Canadian French or French from France?

August 25, 2014

I once had the 1917 text book, but due to a baby and work commitments I had to stop learning for a while and then I lost everything on my hard drive. The link unfortunately doesn't work anymore, can anyone point me to another site where I can get it from?

September 8, 2015
September 8, 2015

Thanks for the link. I added it to my collection:

September 8, 2015

Thank-you, much appreciated!

September 9, 2015

toussaintlou, this is exceptional and very well put together. Like everyone else on here all I can say is thank-you. :)

September 9, 2015
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