There are many audio programs out there that claim to be the best learn to speak French CD course, but many spend too much time trying cram as many phrases into your head as they can, and I have only found a few learn French CDs that help you grasp the grammar behind the phrases. A good speak French CD will help you understand each part of the sentence so that you will be able to construct your own phrases and not be limited to the pre-canned phrases they try to teach you.
Here are my favorite CDs to truly help you learn to speak and understand French as quickly as possible.
Pimsleur Instant Conversation French: Learn French CD
The Pimsleur Instant Conversation learn French CD is designed to quickly get you able to have basic conversations with native speakers in France. It is a good choice for travelers and tourists who need to have basic vocabulary and grammar skills to fall back on if there isn’t anyone who speaks English available. There is no written guide or booklet; this is purely a speak and understand spoken French course, and is about the equivalent of one semester of university-level French. However, for what this course is designed to do, it does a good job. French grammar and vocabulary are taught in order to help the listener understand what they are saying and why they are saying it, and moves efficiently through the 16 lessons. For those needing a helpful, thorough introduction to spoken French, this is one of the best audio programs available today.
Michel Thomas Method: Learn to Speak French CD
The Michel Thomas Method for learning French by CD is a comprehensive, 10-CD course that should have you speaking and understanding spoken French at a near-intermediate level when you are through with the course. Grammar and pronunciation are both clearly explained, and vocabulary is introduced naturally, though you may want to get a separate French vocabulary guide to get a more comprehensive vocabulary manual. The pace is fairly quick, though not too fast, and sentence structure is articulated in such a way as to get you creating your own sentences as quickly as possible. However, for people with absolutely no knowledge of the language, this course jumps in fairly quickly, and you may feel overwhelmed and confused, and may want to stick with an audio program with a slower progression. For most beginners, especially those with a little bit of knowledge on the reading and writing side, this audio program is one of the most thorough, instructive courses for beginners.
Learn in Your Car French: Speak French CD
Mark Frobose’s Behind the Wheel French is a comprehensive audio learning course that expects its listeners to seriously commit to learning the language well. It comes with transcripts of the lessons and a workbook to practice what you have heard. The audio program will help you progress from no knowledge of the language to an advanced beginner level of comprehension and speaking ability. Its lessons are especially suited for travelers and work by incorporating a spoken English word or phrase, followed by the same phrase in French from a native speaker, with time given afterward to repeat the phrase on your own. The vocabulary can get advanced fairly quickly, so for best results you will likely either need to practice with accompanying guidebook or transcripts, and/or listen to the same lesson multiple times until you have a good grasp of it.