Learn French with my Favorite French Textbooks

In emails, comments or through my live sessions of Le Salon, students sometimes ask me for tips on my favorite French resources and learning methods. “How can I learn French grammar?” “Where can I learn more French vocabulary?” “How can I learn French conjugation effectively?”…

Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite methods for learning French. It’s not a single book, but rather a series of French textbooks: the CLE InternationalProgressive du Français” series.

I used these French textbooks when I was teaching French at the Red Cross 10 years ago – and I still love them!

If I was in your living room teaching you French in person, we’d use these textbooks together. Of course, I can’t be in the living rooms of all my thousands of students — so here are all the details on my favorite French textbooks, so you can set yourself up for success!

Bonjour c’est Géraldine.
Bienvenue sur Comme une Française. C’est parti !

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1) Orthographe progressive du français

Orthographe progressive du français by Isabelle Chollet and Jean-Michel Robert.
(Like all the French textbooks in this lesson, this one comes in three levels: Beginners / Intermediate / Advanced)

This is a very clear, very structured book if you want to learn correct French spelling. It gives you vocabulary letter by letter (from A to Z), and also teaches you the sounds and pronunciation for each letter.

You’ll learn about mute letters and tricky spellings, and the traps written French has set up for you 😉 .

The book comes with a CD that will help you with pronunciation and your French oral comprehension. The book itself is not designed for listening comprehension, but it is a nice bonus!

You can also get the companion book with all the corrections for the exercises included in the structured lessons.

Going through each level systematically (beginner, intermediate, advanced) with a structured path allows you to learn a lot quickly — especially if you use the immediately relevant exercises to test your knowledge.

That’s the exact step-by-step French learning system I also use in Comme une Française courses such as Test Your Conjugation or French for Beginners

2) Communication progressive du français

Communication progressive du français, by Claire Miquel

This French textbook is a parallel to my Master Spoken French courses: it covers French everyday life (and social conversation) situation by situation, and it gives you everything you need to feel confident with your spoken French.

The book is split into big modules (with several lessons for each) : “How to talk to people in everyday life”, “How to ask for information in French”, “Being social”, “Giving your opinion”…

There are a lot of similarities between these French textbooks and the “Master Spoken French” Comme une Française program series. I didn’t use theses books to create the courses – but these modules are the natural, essential situations of French communication.

3) Grammaire progressive du français

Grammaire progressive du français, by Maïa Grégoire, Odile Thievenaz

This French textbook is a fantastic method to strengthen your French grammar!

It’s not for everyone – maybe you’d rather start speaking right away, and learn grammar from what you hear and from your mistakes. But with this French textbook, you can learn French grammar in a very progressive, organized way. (Like in the Comme une Française French for Beginners course, but for more advanced levels as well!)

You’ll go through le verbe Être (= the verb “to be”), les temps (= tenses), le verbe Aller (= the verb “to go”), and you’ll walk through French grammar step-by-step so you can understand everything.

Is it easy? No!

Is it worth it, if you want to improve your French grammar and create a solid foundation for learning French? Yes!

4) Vocabulaire progressif du français

Vocabulaire progressif du français by Amélie Lombardini, Roselyne Marty and Nelly Mous

Like Comme une Française, this French textbook will give you real French vocabulary for everyday life.

It’s very dense, though! Be careful, it’s more for advanced level learners – otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming. Take it slowly!

You can find a lot of good material on everyday spoken French vocabulary in the other French textbooks mentioned here (especially “Communication”), but “Vocabulaire progressif” will help you go the extra-mile. It focuses on the words you don’t really need, but that you’ll love to learn if you love the French language.

As an advanced learner, it can help you understand those last challenging lines of that book you’re reading, or even help you write your own French literature!

Et toi ?

Tu utilises quelles méthodes pour améliorer ton français ?
What methods do you use to improve your French?

For example, you can write: “Quand je lis un livre en français sur mon Kindle, j’utilise la fonction “dictionnaire” pour comprendre les nouveaux mots.” (“When I read a book in French on my Kindle, I use the dictionary function to understand new words.”)

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→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Allez, salut 🙂

Join the conversation!

  • I’ve used Pimslur French 5 for listening practice along with E1 on TuneIn radio. The are also some fun podcasts on Castbox for free. For reading, I like parallel dual language literature from France, Ultimate French from Living Language, A Comprehensive French Grammar by Glanville Price, and Assimil French for Russian speakers to help me brush up on multiple languages at once.

  • Je suis tellement contente de voir cette vidéo avec tes recommendations Geraldine, car j’utilise ces livres avec mes étudiants! Surtout « Communication Progressive » parce que les dialogues sont très réaliste, et il y a aussi du vocabulaire et de la grammaire en contexte.

    J’aimerais bien m’offrir le livre « Vocabulaire » niveau perfectionnement, parce que en tant de professeure de français brittanique, j’ai toujours des choses à apprendre et ce serait bien d’elargir mon vocabulaire afin de passer le DALF C2 😊

  • Bonjour Geraldine,
    After I retired, I wanted to start learning French again (I had only studied it in high school). The first books I bought were by Living Language. It is a set of 3 books- Essential, Intermediate and Advanced. It also comes with audio CDs. I found it an excellent review of French basics that I remembered, plus a lot more that I had never studied in school. It is excellent for grammar, vocabulary, sample conversations, and the CDs are good for hearing correct pronunciation. It was a good way for me to get back into learning French.
    Merci pour vos lecons (sorry, no accents)

    • Bonjour Tom,
      Merci for your kind words.
      Start with Beginner, in the area you wish, depending on your level of French.
      Vocabulary will be helpful right away.
      Conjugation and grammar will help you solidify your French.

  • Bonjour Géraldine
    Cet leçon est très utile merci. J’ai une livre que vous mentionne. Je collectionne les Manuel français!! J’aime Action Grammaire par Phil Turk et Geneviève Garcia Vandaele c’est très utile. Aussi j’aime vôtre vidéo. J’ai aussi utilisé Bien Dire à mon cours français. Et un fois par semaine je parle sur Skype avec mon amie qui habite en France.

  • I suggest that you put links on the American Amazon. Then you can make a little money off the sale of the books, just through your suggestions and at no cost to us, the people buying the books. This is a common practice. Look at Wirecutter, which suggests the best products based on experience and testing
    . If you click on their link through their website, then they can make a little money off the sale. Just a helpful tip – and sorry for the English.

  • Are all of the directions in these books only in French? Want to start my high school son in French, but he couldn’t read the directions if it is only in French.

    Thank you

  • I love to speak french, but it’s so challenging to put the words together. I dont want to give up though its discouraging.

  • Je trouve que j’apprends mieux le français en écoutant différents programmes sur you tube comprenant bien sur: Comme une Francais, KwiziqFrench, et français avec Pierre. Je crois qu’une personne peut apprendre une langue plus rapidement avec la méthode audiovisuelle. Mais J’ai des livres à consulter quand j’en ai besoin, tels que: français dans 3 mois, {série Hugo}, dictionnaire bilingue anglais-français / français-anglais; et «la France en direct», qui est un manuel que j’ai utilisé lorsque j’ai appris le français à l’ambassade de France à Tel-Aviv, en Israël. J’ai aussi le livre de conjugaison français
    des verbes.

    • Bonjour Scott, I have one of these books and no, the answers are not in them. Each has a separate book you can purchase with the answers – they look exactly the same but will say “Corrigés”

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