If you are living or travelling in France its almost certain you have picked up a language phrasebook or at least a pocket dictionary to help you get by. Like mine, is it now gathering dust on the shelf?

You’ve probably nailed ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’ at the very least and perhaps extended your language skills further to ask at your local boulangerie “je voudrais deux pain au chocolat et trois croissants s’il vous plait” (Of course, ordering for several people not just yourself…..) So what can you do now to advance your language skills?

When it comes to studying from home, investing in a textbook can be a wonderful way to help you learn. If you have the motivation, you can teach yourself using the exercises in the textbook.

Here a beginner’s guide to choosing a textbook:

Start with the basics – Find a textbook that lists the verbs in present, past and future tense. If you are just starting out, don’t worry too much about trying to cover all the tenses all at once.

Unlike a dictionary, some textbooks will include listed vocabulary based on themes such as calendar, food and drink, holidays, family, music, sport etc. This can be very helpful to build your vocab, especially if it includes a topic of interest to you or relevant to your work.

Find a textbook with exercises at the end of each chapter (and helpfully with the answers at the back!). Most textbooks will have worksheets to practise and test yourself on the grammar/vocab point covered. This is a direct replication of what you will find in a classroom scenario.

To help you, here are some textbooks we use here at Insted.

A Propos A1 – Cahier D’exercices (with 1cd Audio) by Christine Andant

CLE International Grammaire – Grammaire progressive du français niveau débutant – with 400 exercises by Michele Boulares, Jean-Louis Frerot.

French language course books