Try These French Graded Reader Apps and Websites for Easy French Reading Practice
Any experienced language learner or teacher knows that reading is a highly effective way of developing language skills. Reading French promotes vocabulary acquisition, comprehension skills, and feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. Importantly, it exposes readers to vocabulary and grammar in a meaningful context.
However, reading French texts provided in typical language textbooks is often an unsatisfactory experience: such texts tend to be dull, formulaic and lacking authenticity. Yet authentic materials aimed at native speakers aren’t always appropriate, either. This is where graded readers come in.
French graded readers basically serve as the “bridge” between textbook content and authentic material. Like textbooks, they are designed with learners in mind; unlike textbooks, they provide an immersive experience that is adjacent to reading truly authentic materials.
What to look for in French graded readers
Looking for a French reader online? Check out our recommendations below. We’ve reviewed the top French graded reader apps and websites, which combine the benefits of graded reading materials with the convenience of digital technology. These apps and websites offer a plethora of useful features that traditional graded readers (books) don’t, such as:
- One-click dictionaries/instant translations
- Flashcard creation tools
- Easy French reader audio, preferably recorded by native speakers
- Intelligent spaced-repetition systems for efficient memorization
- Interactive quizzes to test vocabulary, grammar and comprehension skills
- Regularly updated content, so that you never run out of reading material.
When reviewing the apps and websites below, we’ve considered the above features, as well as the overall quality and efficacy of the platforms. These apps and websites are all free to download and/or use, but some of them require a paid subscription in order to access all the content and features available. If you are serious about learning a language, it is well worth investing in the right tools, and these French graded reader platforms are the best of the best out there right now!
[Further reading: The Best French Learning Apps for Successful Self-study]
The best French graded reader apps and websites
Featuring a massive selection of articles from Beginner level to Advanced Higher, Newsdle is the go-to source for graded news in French. Newsdle articles cover diverse topics such as French life and culture, world news, science and technology, and much more besides.
In a nutshell, Newsdle offers:
- 3 new news-based articles added daily
- Native speaker audio recordings
- In-depth listening and reading comprehension quizzes with every article
- One-click dictionary and flashcard creation tools
- A spaced-repetition vocabulary review system
- Access to app and desktop versions (the following screenshots are taken from the Newsdle app, available in Google Play or the Apple App Store)
Every Newsdle article comes with helpful explanations of keywords, proper nouns, idioms and grammar points.
Newsdle’s listening and reading comprehension exercises are a standout feature: they test vocabulary and grammar points, and help deepen understanding of the material. In the learning hub, you or your teacher can track your progress with detailed performance stats for each lesson completed.
[Further reading: How to Learn French Using Newsdle]
Langster is a sleek and user-friendly app available to Android and iOS users, offering graded news and stories in multiple languages (French included). Langster content spans levels A1 to B2, and offers many of the features we like to see in graded readers, such as:
- Native speaker audio recordings
- One-tap translation
- Quizzes with each article
- Explanation of keywords and grammar points
- Flashcard creation and review features
Langster’s graded reading material includes native speaker recorded audio. It’s easy to listen while following the text. Each text is followed by a short interactive quiz.
Langster provides a helpful breakdown of keywords and grammar points.
Perhaps the ultimate platform for polyglots, the LingQ app/website has a huge selection of authentic material to read, watch and listen to. The more you use LingQ, the better it gets to know you and your language level, so it helpfully predicts how many unknown words you are likely to encounter in a text. LingQ emphasises vocabulary acquisition: as you read, you tap on the words you want to learn better, which makes them turn yellow and creates a “LingQ” item in your vocabulary bank. LingQ also features:
- Easy French reader audio (recorded by native speakers)
- A sophisticated vocabulary review system
- An active community of language-learners and tutors available for support
LingQ content is categorised into levels, from beginner to advanced.
Tap on any word to view a translation and save a yellow “LingQ” (unknown) word, which is stored in your personal vocabulary bank.
Beelinguapp makes it easy for language learners to find interesting reading material in their target language, and read/listen to content in a parallel-text format. There is an impressive range of material and genres available, from folk tales to mystery stories to world news. Beelinguapp is available for Android and iOS devices. It includes:
- A split-screen English translation (can be hidden from view)
- Native speaker audio available (for some articles; some of it is computer-generated)
- The ability to save and review flashcards
- One-tap dictionary
Listen to the audio and follow along with the text, with Beelinguapp’s karaoke-style highlight feature. Pause the audio and tap on any word for a translation.
Study, save and review vocabulary flashcards in Beelinguapp.
LevelText is a free browser-based service with a great premise: search for topics you’re interested in, and the search engine will return suitable results in French, categorised by level (A2, B1, etc). When clicking on a search result, you have the option to go to the original site, or have LevelText create a “lesson” for you. The lessons include computer-generated audio, translations of difficult words highlighted in blue, and an English translation of the text available on click.
LevelText finds authentic French texts based on your search terms. The word count and difficulty level are clearly indicated.
LevelText’s auto-generated lessons provide audio and a vocabulary list.
Packed with free resources, AnyFrench website is run by an FLE teacher/language enthusiast who creates YouTube videos, a podcast, and graded reading materials, all in French. Texts are available for levels A1-C1, and the subjects are oriented around everyday life, French culture, travel, and entertainment. Whether the “advanced” texts really provide enough of a challenge for C1 level is debatable; however, as a free resource for reading French, AnyFrench is well worth a look, especially for beginner to intermediate learners.
Any French graded reading texts come with audio, an English translation, and a comprehension quiz.
There are prompts to encourage readers to review vocabulary and engage with the content more deeply.
AnyFrench provides free downloadable materials with each article.
How to get the most out of graded readers
Choose the right material
The ideal reading material is neither too easy, nor too difficult. If you don’t know what your French level is, you can take an online test, or try exploring material at different reading levels. For someone who is new to graded readers, it may be better to begin with material that is on the easier side, i.e. you can comprehend almost everything in the text without having to pause frequently to look up unknown words (which inhibits fluency and reduces the pleasure of reading).
On the other hand, if you’re already accustomed to reading in French, are aiming for maximum progress, or trying to break out of a language-learning plateau, opt for articles that offer more of a challenge – but don’t overwhelm yourself with lots of new vocabulary that you won’t be able to retain.
There is no need to stick rigidly to one reading level; let’s say you’re a B2-level Newsdle user, you could choose to read articles that are Lower Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced, depending on whether you’re in the mood for an easy read or something more challenging. When reading articles on a specialist topic, even if the level is ostensibly too easy, you’re still likely to encounter some new vocabulary.
Give yourself time to read and digest the material
Break down reading French into multiple steps. For example, the first time you could read the text and listen to the audio without stopping. The second time, you could re-read the text to yourself and take time to look up unknown words. The third time, you could re-read the text with maximum fluency, as if you understand everything with ease (even if you can’t recall the meaning of every single word you looked up previously).
Use personalised learning tools
Take advantage of the French reader online tools and features, which are included in most of the apps we’ve covered in this article: one-tap dictionary, flashcard reviews, interactive quizzes, etc. These features provide tons of extra value compared to reading a plain old book. They help you commit new vocabulary to your long-term memory and deepen your understanding of the reading material.
Adjust for optimal fluency and comprehension
Having to pause frequently to look up words can make reading a slow and frustrating experience. If it happens, a text may be too difficult for you, in which case you can consider switching to an easier level.
Alternatively, try a different approach: focus less on the meaning of individual words, and more on understanding the gist of what you’re reading. You may be able to infer the meaning of new vocabulary without looking it up – especially if the word is a cognate, or if the context enables you to intelligently guess the word’s meaning. With regular French reading practice, you will naturally become a faster, more confident reader in any case.
Reading in French is an efficient and immersive way to learn the language. Graded readers are ideal for French reading practice, because they bridge the gap between typical textbook content (too easy/boring) and authentic materials (usually too advanced/inaccessible to learners). Apps and websites offer lots of value-added features which optimise the reading experience and boost your learning. We’ve reviewed some of the best French graded reader apps and websites in this article, and hopefully left you feeling inspired and informed about where to find quality French reading material. What are you waiting for? Allez-y !
Daisy Ward is an experienced online English teacher, writer and content creator with a passion for foreign languages and cultures. Her expertise in effective language-learning strategies is derived from many years in language classrooms, both as a teacher and as a student. Fluent in French and competent in Mandarin Chinese, she attributes much of her success in learning languages to the use of apps and other online tools.