If you have progressed to the point where you are able to understand basic conversational French topics, you know the words for most common nouns, you have a basic grasp of all the French verb tenses and grammatical structures, and feel comfortable constructing and speaking basic sentences of your own, you have probably progressed to the advanced French level.
Advanced French lessons are often more difficult to find than beginner or intermediate-level lessons, whether in person or online, and you will probably need to at least partly teach yourself.
Here are some suggestions to improve your French to an advanced level.
Lessons on this Site
- Learn the less common French verb tenses, including the past subjunctive and the passé simple.
- Look over our vocabulary lessons to see if there are any words you don’t know.
- Understand the idiosyncratic uses of certain structures in French, including using il est or c’est, how to structure sentences with comparatives or superlatives, and using interrogative pronouns and other uses.
How to Improve your French to an Advanced Level
You will probably have to consult multiple sources to reach an advanced level of speaking, comprehending, reading, and writing in French. Here are some ways you can improve in each area of learning the language.
Increase your vocabulary in topics that are of interest to you or that you are likely to need to communicate. Read a French forum or a blog about the topic, and keep track of all the words you don’t know and the idiomatic phrases you encounter, and then quiz yourself on them. You will be much more motivated to expand your vocabulary level if you are reading about subjects you find interesting. Quizlet.com and cram.com both allow you to make your own flashcards for free.
Then, as soon as you feel comfortable, begin posting (in French) your comments, and learn from the mistakes you make (you can even explicitly ask for feedback so people feel comfortable correcting you). You’ll make plenty of mistakes, but immediate feedback on errors is of the fastest ways to learn.
Listen to naturally spoken French, which you may encounter in TV shows, movies, or even YouTube videos. However, don’t use English subtitles, which will delay your learning.
Using French subtitles can help you understand what’s going on and to distinguish individual words, but these too are a crutch that you should eventually try to eliminate. One effective method is to watch the video/movie/show in French twice, first without subtitles, and then with French subtitles. Try to understand as much as you can the first time, and fill in any blanks the second time, when you have the written dialogue to help you understand whatever you missed.
Studying advanced grammar is one of the less exciting techniques, but if you want to be able to speak and write at a higher level, you need to take the time to understand less common but still important French grammar points. AP French textbooks (this Barron’s one is the most popular one on Amazon) are where you may have the most luck finding grammar lessons explained in a thorough but concise manner.
Be sure you can construct your own sentences using the lessons you’ve learned to make sure you can apply these techniques to your future speaking or writing.
Read French books, whether novels or non-fiction, and make note of the words you don’t know, but only look them up if you are absolutely lost. Force yourself to use context clues and figure out the main purpose of each sentence, and add the words you didn’t know to your list or flashcards for memorization after you’ve finished reading each section.
If you have any chances to connect with native French speakers, do it! There are French organizations in every major city that welcome members of any level of proficiency in the language. Alliance Française is one of the most well-known French organizations and has many chapters in the US and all over the world.
Never Stop Practicing!
Lastly, remember that with foreign languages, there is truth in the old maxim, “Use it or lose it.” You will be able to learn and retain your knowledge in French much better if you expose yourself to the language in some fashion every day – find a website, book, or TV show that you enjoy to keep practicing without it feeling like too much work.