Charli’s Top Podcasts for French Language Learning
I’m a bit of a podcast addict — averaging 3-5 episodes per day. So when I moved to Paris and needed to improve my French FAST, I added some French podcasts into my playlist as part of my crash-learning plan.
Hearing a lot of French is key to improving your vocabulary and pronunciation, and podcasts are a great (and often free) way to improve your language skills. If you don’t have the opportunity to hear French much in your daily life, podcasts can be a great alternative.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers recently about which podcasts I use to improve my French. So I’m putting my recommendations all together here, along with a couple from readers. I’ve included links for each one, but you can also just search the names in your favorite podcast app.
CoffeeBreak French: For complete beginners. Much of this podcast is in English as the host sets up the lessons, so total newbies won’t get lost. I find that once you move on past the A1/2 level it becomes too easy, but great to start with.
FrenchPod 101: Another good choice for beginners, and also set up in English so you have context before hearing the French conversations. It covers common situations such as speaking with a co-worker, or leaving a phone message. Most of the episodes are only a few minutes long, so these bite-sized lessons are easy to make time for.
News in Slow French: These popular lessons come in Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced series. The Beginner episodes are set up in English, and are straightforward lessons, not covering current events. But the Intermediate and Advanced series come out weekly and are entirely in French. The lessons also go over grammar and expressions. On the website you can find vocabulary and expressions for each episode which is really helpful. If you love the lessons, you can purchase even more. (This podcast was also recommended by reader rgapa1.)
French Verb Drills: I’ll be honest, I hate French verbs. But they are oh so important to learning. If you want to add an audio element to your verb training, this is a good option. There are about ten free episodes available, then you’ll need to buy a bundle.
One Thing in a French Day: Described as “a small slice of a Frenchwoman’s day — in France and in French.” The host, Laetitia, picks one specific topic such as using the SNCF trains, vacationing in Bretagne or visiting a museum, then takes you through the experience. Great for improving your activity-specific vocabulary and learning to navigate France! For 5€ a month, you can get the transcripts as well.
Duolingo French Podcast: Each episode features native French speakers from around the world telling a story from their life, along with English narration to help along the way. The format follows Duolingo’s popular Spanish language podcast and there are transcripts and study materials available on the podcast website as well!
Podcast Francais Authentique: This podcast feels like the host Johan is just casually talking to you from his house, and his stated mission is to help you properly express yourself. Each episode also has a link to a transcript, so you can follow along with text — super helpful for learning! Many have videos as well.
Journal en francais facile: The French love to listen to news on the radio, but for newbies, it can be hard to understand because of the speed and quickly changing topics. Enter “Journal en francais facile” — or News in simple French. This daily podcast is produced by RFI (a French public broadcaster and sister station of my employer France 24) and is an easier version of its news bulletins. In the beginning I would listen to an English daily news update before listening to this French one so I had a better understanding of the stories being discussed and could fill in the blanks with the vocabulary. The transcripts are also online on each episode page.
FOR ADVANCED LEARNERS + PRACTICE
To improve your chances of making your practice a habit, try to find similar French equivalents to the podcasts you already love. That’s key to keeping you engaged and returning to the episodes. While the Franco-podcast world isn’t quite as diverse as the Anglo one yet, you can still find French options on topics as wide ranging as movies to tech to black culture to travel to NBA basketball.
I am partial to news, politics and podcasts with a storytelling vibe, so my choices are heavy on the current events side. But I’ve included two favorites recommended by readers below as well!
La Poudre: One of the most popular podcasts in France, La Poudre comes to us from journalist and feminist voice Lauren Bastide. She interviews female movers and shakers in the world of French media, art, politics and more. A great way to also learn about cool Parisiennes.
Change ma vie: Translates to “change my life” and that’s exactly what it’s about. French people love self-help and self-improvement, and each episode covers topics such as optimism, making decisions and overcoming fear of failure. Reader _justjosephine recommended this podcast to me. She says she likes it because the host speaks very clearly and that while it isn’t a lesson podcast, it has helped her improve her French!
Transfert by Slate.fr: Another reader pick! Reader jamiehaskell sent me this podcast, which she recommends for advanced learners. Transfert takes you inside the intimate lives of others by telling the anonymous stories of people in love, on vacation, struggling with a change in life and more.
Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite French podcasts? Please leave a comment and share with all of us.