I am interested in ordering a few French books, such as an atlas with a lot of pictures and a basic biography. I am in the 3rd unit of the first level of Rosetta Stone, so not to far along.

For those who are farther along than me, what was the progression of your reading and listening skills? About when could you read a book suited for a Middle or High School level in pure French, or listen to a podcast or nightly radio news?

Does the reading or speaking seem to progress more quickly? I am looking to find some engaging content in French that I will be able to attain in a reasonable period of time, but maybe slightly over my head so that I have something to work for.

The key with Rosetta Stone is keeping it interesting somehow :D

If you need more information, I have been studying about every other day for an hour over the last month or two, and have completed a year of High School French, but I will say that I did not learn much from the horrid High School platform. If I miss a word or phrase in Rosetta Stone more than once over the course of a lesson, I put it in a Spaced Repetition Flashcard program to make sure that I don't forget it for a long time xD

I would consider myself reasonably thorough. ;)

Thanks for the advice!

  • 3
    I personnally wouldn't recommend Rosetta Stone as a main tool to learn language. It's expensive, and Rosetta Stone allows you to learn vocabulary, but to learn and memorize efficiently, you need to be creative with the languages. The best learning resource for language I've found is Duolingo.
    – Quidam
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 20:58
  • I don't know much about Rosetta Stone, but I'd say that once you've got roughly a thousand- or two-thousand-word vocabulary and a basic grasp of grammar, you can reasonably start reading ordinary prose with a dictionary. You can't easily learn to speak that way, but you can certainly learn to understand. Pick something on a topic you'd be interested to read about in English. It will be hard going at first, but it gets easier as you go along.
    – Keith
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 0:53
  • @Keith Thanks for the ballpark estimate! I have just ordered some french books, an easy one, and one that I can grow into, along with a dictionary. How do I plus 1 your comment?
    – Zeke Legge
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 0:57
  • I'm not too concerned about that kind of thing - the nice comment is enough. Have a good time reading in French.
    – Keith
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 1:04
  • I had struggle learning English, got out of school without being able to even make a simple sentence. What help me was to take a book I always wanted to read in its native language (Lord of the Rings). It was far above my level, but with a dictionnary by my side and deciphering every sentence I could not understand made me quasi-fluent in writng in two months.
    – P. O.
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


As @PERCE-NEIGE mentioned in the comments, duolingo is a GREAT tool for supplemental French practice (can be used as an app on a phone and also on a computer). But as for reading something that could expand your French, you should be far enough along to do these things: reading articles and reading books you already know.

I find that reading short online news articles in French is a good place to start. An entire book can be quite daunting but a reasonably sized article (that's not too academic) is a good place to start. And also something that is a good idea as @P.Obertelli mentioned is to read a book translated in French that you already well in English. That way, you can follow the story even without understanding every word or sentence. Since you already know what's happening, you can infer the meaning of a word or sentence without having to look up each word in a dictionary (which can be tedious and make reading almost miserable when you keep stopping and starting).

Another thing to note, reading/writing and speaking/hearing are all very different skills. You may be able to read very well in French but still not be able to carry on a conversation out loud. A good way to at least practice hearing if you don't have a speaking partner is to watch movies in French (or just French movies) and have on either the French subtitles or English subtitles (preferably French but if you can't follow it at all, use English until you build up more understanding). A couple months of Rosetta Stone should be enough for you to be able to comprehend simple movies in French (probably not every single scene but you should be able to get the overall concept)

  • Thanks for the ideas and encouragement! I will keep pressing foward.
    – Zeke Legge
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 16:30

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