Resources for French Students

By Michelle Nishidera

Posted on December 15, 2020

By Michelle Nishidera

Since I've been learning French for 10 years, here are some resources that I have come to know and love. Many of them can also be used for other languages as well.

DeepL is a translation website, similar to Google Translate. It uses machine learning to accurately translate phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Although it is possible to translate whole documents, try not to use it for that. If you click on a word in the translation, there will also be alternate options to alter meaning. DeepL can currently translate 11 languages including French, English, and Spanish. There is also DeepL Pro, a paid subscription to unlock options such as tone, unlimited text translation, and being able to translate documents without changing the formatting. However, it works just fine using the free option.

BonPatron is like Grammarly for French writing. In order to use it, simply type or copy + paste your text into the box and press “vérifier le texte”. After a brief loading screen, there will be yellow and red highlights over certain words or phrases that need to be corrected. Although the website automatically defaults to French in order to explain what the problem is, by selecting “English” above the box, everything will be in English. In order to see the explanations, you can either hover over the highlighted sections with your mouse, or scroll down the page to see a list. Keep in mind that BonPatron is not 100% accurate, so some knowledge of French grammar is required to know if the changes are required depending on context.

WordReference is a popular English-French and French-English (and other languages) online dictionary. It is used for words, common phrases, and verb conjugation. In order to translate a word or phrase, type it into the search box. Multiple translations will then come up with a short description, example sentence, and its part of speech. You can also hear the word with different accents by pressing on the listen or écouter button. Verb conjugations can be accessed by typing a verb in the search bar and pressing “conj” beside the word, or by pressing the arrow beside a translated verb. This will lead you to several verb tables with pretty much all of the tenses (ex. Présent, passé composé, imparfait, etc.).

Linguee is another online dictionary, made by the same company as DeepL. Again, it uses machine learning, but this time to translate words and phrases. Similar to other online dictionaries, simply type what you need translated into the search box. Linguee also has predictive text, and possible words and their translations will appear below the search box. For phrases that don’t have an “official” translation, Linguee offers each word translated individually as well as external sources that feature the phrase.

Bescherelle is mostly used as an online verb conjugator. To use it, simply type the verb in the search box. It will then show you verb tables labelled clearly with the tense. There are also options to see simple or compound conjugations, as well as basic information on the verb itself (but no English translation). There are also several other features on the website including dictations, quizzes, and games to practice French. In addition to being a website, there are also several Bescherelle books for verb conjugation.