Best Podcasts to Learn French
Are you ready to embark on a language-learning journey that is both entertaining and effective? Learning French through podcasts is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the language, improve your listening skills, and expand your vocabulary. Whether you're a beginner eager to grasp the basics or someone looking to reinforce their existing knowledge, French podcasts offer an engaging and convenient learning experience. In this article, we'll explore a selection of the best French podcasts for beginners, plus a few recommended podcasts in French for learners who are further advanced. These podcasts cover a wide range of topics, from grammar and everyday expressions to topics of general interest. If you are interested in podcasts in French that focus on news and current events, then we also have a blogpost on the best news podcasts to listen to for French learners.
Get ready to tune in, enhance your language skills, and embrace the world of French language and culture, one episode at a time!
Best French Podcasts for Absolute Beginners
Ideally, French podcasts should be used to improve your French listening skills, by familiarising yourself with the sounds and intonation of the language. However, if you're new to French, you may struggle to understand much of what is being said. That doesn’t mean you should give up on podcasts altogether and wait until you're more advanced in your French learning journey. There are a few French podcasts out there specifically designed for beginners like you. A note of caution, however: these beginner podcasts will use a lot of English and only a little French. Therefore, if you rely solely on these podcasts to learn French, your progress may be quite slow. Podcasts for beginners are best used as just another tool alongside the various other learning resources available to you – for example, see our Newsdle article on the best French learning apps.
Coffee Break French
The Coffee Break French podcasts are around 15 minutes long, hosted by Mark (who is actually Scottish) in the role of teacher and his student, Anna – think the Michel Thomas method in podcast form. For beginners, it's recommended to follow the podcasts in chronological order. They start with the basics, such as greetings and introducing yourself, and as you progress the dialogues become slightly longer. Coffee Break French is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and so on. While the podcasts are free, they do contain inserted ads that can be bothersome. There’s also a Premium version that gives you access to transcripts, exercises, and vocabulary lists, plus podcasts in French for more advanced learners, from Lower Intermediate to Upper Advanced levels.
French Made Easy
French Made Easy is hosted by Mathilde Kien, a French teacher, and like Coffee Break French is best followed in chronological order. Podcasts vary in length from 4 to 10 minutes and are uploaded weekly. French Made Easy is like listening to a short formal French lesson, and some of the podcasts are very grammar focused. So if that style of learning suits you, French Made Easy might be a good choice. If you sign up at her website, mathildekien.com, you can get free access to the accompanying Exercise Library.
Frenchpod101.com is an online French learning program that offers thousands of audio and video lessons for learners at all levels. If you subscribe you can download these lessons and listen at your own pace. They also offer some free podcasts on various podcast platforms. Unlike the online program, the podcasts are not so much a structured course, but more a sampler. Currently, there are around 30 French podcasts for beginners available on Spotify and Google Podcasts. Additionally, new podcasts are uploaded every week for a limited time, though they vary in level.
Speak French avec Moi
Séverine Vallée started her podcast during the dark days of COVID lockdowns. Even though those days may seem distant now, Séverine’s podcasts are still going strong. The podcasts vary in length, from 6 to 20 minutes, and are aimed primarily at those hoping to travel to France one day. They focus on providing useful phrases for everyday situations that tourists commonly encounter. However, Séverine also does episodes on grammar, pronunciation, and language learning tips. Since it is tailored towards absolute beginners, there’s a lot of English used. Listening to these podcasts feels like receiving a mini French lesson for beginners.
Learn French with Linguaboost
These “podcasts” are actually audio lessons available to listen to on podcast platforms. They follow a format similar to audio textbooks of introducing phrases and prompting the listener to repeat them. The audio course consists of 70 lessons organized into three levels, and many of these lessons are available as podcasts. If your preferred learning style involves listening to and practicing set phrases, this podcast might be a valuable resource for you.
Best French Podcasts for Beginner and Elementary Learners
When learning a language, it is crucial to focus on developing your listening skills as quickly as possible to reach a level where you can grasp the overall meaning of conversations. Regularly listening to podcasts that are predominantly in the language you are learning is a great way to do this. So once you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to challenge yourself with podcasts that contain more French. The following French podcasts will stretch your comprehension abilities and expose you to more French content.
Learn French by Podcast
Learn French by Podcast is positively ancient by internet standards, having started 25 years ago. It initially started with mp3 audio lessons accompanied by PDF materials and was one of the pioneers in language podcasting. Learn French by Podcast has a bit more French in it than the other beginner courses mentioned above. Although that makes it more challenging, the increased use of French in the lessons can actually accelerate your progress. And if the French is a little difficult to understand, then you can always download the transcripts and follow along that way.
Lessons vary in length from 5 to 15 minutes (the more advanced ones can be up to 30 minutes long). One downside of the podcast series is that, when listened to in chronological order, the difficulty level can jump around. For instance, a beginner-level episode might be immediately followed by an intermediate-level one.
Okay, there is a lot of English in the French Blabla podcasts, but they offer content that goes beyond the basics. Launched in 2015, this long-running podcast is another developed by a French teacher. Caroline is an engaging host, and the podcast is conveniently organized into categories such as French Essentials, A Day in French, and French Pronunciation. Some episodes have a grammar or pronunciation focus, while others will help introduce you to aspects of French culture. Some episodes are very short, just two or three minutes, and no episodes are longer than 10 minutes. To complement the podcast, you can access accompanying study guides on Caroline's website, frenchblabla.org.
Learn To French
Learn to French has a lot of English, but what I like about this podcast, hosted by Eden, is the wide variety of activities that are covered. There are Dictation episodes, which many people will find useful in improving their French listening comprehension. Other episodes have a grammar or pronunciation focus and a Word of the Week episode. Learn to French also has semi-regular podcasts aimed at increasing your speaking skills, and episodes aimed at helping you pass the different level DELF exams.
Daily French Pod
Daily French Pod is put together by the Choses à faire team and has now amassed a library of over a thousand podcasts. These podcasts are almost entirely in French, however if you organise them by chronological order, it is easy to find ones that are spoken very, very slowly. Even if you don’t understand every word, it will at least get your ear attuned to French pronunciation. They are also very short, only 3 or 4 minutes long, so your brain won’t be overtaxed by listening to an entire podcast in French. The team produces a new podcast almost every day, and they cover topics like current affairs, art, and the environment. Unfortunately, transcripts are no longer easy to get.
Learn French Naturally
Jérémie is a French-Canadian who developed a language course where students learn French through French history, literature, and music. The format of each lesson is an introduction to a famous French person through a guided conversation. It’s an interesting approach that could benefit some learners, especially if used in conjunction with the flashcards he provides for each lesson on his website. The earliest episodes are supposedly aimed at absolute beginners but may be a little difficult for learners starting from scratch.
Learn French Naturally is a work in progress – so far there are over 30 episodes to listen to. An added bonus: you get to listen to a Montreal French accent.
Podcasts in French for Intermediate Learners
Little Talk in Slow French
Although the host, Nagisa, speaks in slow and very clear French, and occasionally adds an English explanation, this podcast will likely be too difficult for beginners and elementary level students to understand. Transcripts can be accessed from her Patreon page to help with listening. The topics covered are interesting and wide-ranging in subject.
LanguaTalk Slow French
These podcasts are aimed at A2-B1 level learners, that is Upper Beginner to Lower Intermediate. The podcasts are 99% in French and, as the name suggests, are delivered at a slowed-down pace to aid comprehension. The host, Gaëlle, covers a variety of topics, mainly on French culture such as novels, TV series, and films. Additionally, there are episodes dedicated to grammar and vocabulary and even a few interviews. Another feature is that each episode concludes with a summary spoken at a normal speed. This will either serve as a huge source of encouragement when you discover you can follow the gist of regular spoken French, or motivate you to keep up your listening practice as much as possible to get you up to speed. Episodes vary in length, from 10 to 25 minutes, and free transcripts are available at https://languatalk.com/blog/podcast/french/.
Duolingo French Podcasts
Duolingo is well-known for its gamified language learning app, available in over 40 languages. Since 2019, they have expanded their offerings to include podcasts, which can be accessed for free on all the main podcast platforms. The Duolingo podcasts have a curious format: a few sentences in French alternating with a few sentences in English. A French speaker shares his or her life story, while the English-speaking host provides an outline and adds context, rather than a word-for-word translation. The other interesting aspect of these podcasts is that they feature not just speakers from France but from throughout the Francophone world, so you get to hear a variety of accents.
Although the podcasts are targeted at intermediate level learners, the speakers intentionally speak at a slow and clear pace. Furthermore, Duolingo provides transcripts for all the podcasts on their website, so you can follow along as you listen. This is particularly beneficial for those at lower proficiency levels, as it helps to enhance comprehension.
Don’t be fooled by the title, the Easy French podcasts are very much intermediate level. Nevertheless, the three hosts, Hélène, Judith, and Rita, are engaging, enthusiastic, and with a good sense of humour which makes for an entertaining listen. It also has the advantage of hearing three different voices instead of the same voice all the time. If you get a membership subscription you can access transcripts, though subscriptions are on the expensive side. Easy French also produces a series of fun-to-watch YouTube videos, many of which are tailored to beginners.
Hugo Cotton has been producing his InnerFrench podcasts since 2017 and has become one of the most popular Intermediate level podcasters. For good reason too: his podcasts cover a wide range of fascinating topics, and the combination of Hugo's moderate speaking pace and clear pronunciation, makes it easy for intermediate learners to understand. The sense of encouragement and accomplishment derived from being able to comprehend a 30-minute podcast discussing intellectual subjects such as politics, philosophy, technology, and the environment should not be underestimated. The beauty of InnerFrench podcasts is that you not only enhance your French language skills, but you also learn more about the world around you. I would suggest that you listen in chronological order, as the earlier episodes are spoken at a slower pace compared to the later ones.
Why Use Podcasts to Learn French
Podcasts are a great language learning tool, mainly because listening to podcasts is so easy and convenient. This means that no matter how busy your day is, or how little spare time you think you have for studying, listening to podcasts can fit seamlessly into your daily routine. With a podcast app like Apple Pods, Spotify, or Google Podcasts on your phone you can easily incorporate French listening practice into activities like commuting to work, taking the dog for a walk, doing household chores, or even winding down before bed.
This convenience becomes particularly valuable during those inevitable times when you don’t feel motivated to study. In such periods of 'demotivation,' it can be really hard to open a textbook or organise a language exchange or power up the computer to do some online learning. However, by utilizing "dead time" or periods when you're not fully engaged in a specific task, you can grab the opportunity to listen to a French podcast. This way, you can improve your French without even realising it. For example, I listen to language podcasts when I walk to work and while walking the dog every day, and - voila! - I am learning French for at least an hour a day with very little extra effort.
Integrate podcasts into your routine, and you can transform otherwise idle moments into language learning opportunities, resulting in consistent progress and increased proficiency over time.
Nick is an English teacher who has taught English as a Foreign Language in China, Italy and France. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Modern Languages), majoring in French, from the University of New South Wales. He loves travel, reading and football and, of course, learning languages. Four years ago, Nick and his wife co-founded an online English language school targeted at the Chinese market (since sold to Chinese investors). He has also ghost-written the autobiography of a well-known Australian horse trainer.