The French Creole Starter Guide: Where to Learn 3 Major French-based Creoles (2023)

The French Creole Starter Guide: Where to Learn 3 Major French-based Creoles (1)

By Camille Turner Last updated:

“Finally, someone who speaks French!”

I used to teach English as a second language to immigrants in the U.S. One day, a young girl from Haiti signed up for my beginner class.

Since I only knew French and English at the time, I spoke to most of my beginners with lots of hand gestures. With this new student, I thought, things would be much easier.

Well… not exactly.

It turned out that she didn’t speak French, but rather Haitian Creole, a French-based language.

While I could understand some words she said and vice versa, it was mostly right back to hand gestures for me!

If only I’d known where to find some French Creole lessons.

Not only would I have had an easier time communicating with my student, I would’ve given my existing French a workout—all while expanding my language skills way beyond the realm of “classroom” French.

You don’t need to be an ESL teacher to see why that can be valuable. In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of French-based creoles and where you can learn three major ones online.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

What Is French Creole?

There are many wonderful languageresources online for learning the big French creoles: Haitian, Louisiana and Antillean.

However, before I tell you where you can learn French Creole, let’s start by breaking down what exactly makes a creole language.

(Video) English, French, Creole course. #1

For starters, creoles are fully developed languages that are based on a mix of different, previously established languages.

You may have heard of a pidgin, but it’s worth noting that pidgins and creoles are two different things. The short version is that a pidgin is a simplified mix of two or more languages so that their speakers can communicate with one another, whereas a creole is a full-fledged language with native speakers.

There are many French creoles—or creoles where one of the parent languages is French—that exist all over the globe.

Aside from the three I mentioned earlier, French creoles include Guianese, Mauritian, Réunionand Seychelles.

Why Learn French Creole?

Now that you know what French creoles are, you may be wondering why you should take the time to learn them.

First, each creole represents a different culture, so learning about them will expand your worldview.

Additionally, creoles are often overlooked when it comes to deciding what language to learn. Most students think of French, English, Mandarin and the like before considering a creole. This means that by learning a creole, your marketability in the workforce will surpass many who don’t have the same unique skillset.

If you’ve already started studying French, you’re equipped to learn a French creole quickly.Having a basis in French can help you learn a French creole faster since some of the vocabulary and grammar is quite similar. Likewise, learning a French creole can reinforce and boost your French skills.

Take a look at the following examples to see just how closely related these languages can be.

  • Haitian Creole:Bonjou(Hello)


  • Haitian Creole:Byen venu or byenveni(Welcome)


  • Antillean Creole:Souplé(Please)

French:S’il vous plaît(Please)

Try to build your general French knowledge before you dive into the world of creole since knowing French will help you immensely when studying its various sister languages.

For example, use the FluentU program to get a good idea of what the French language sounds like when it’s being used in authentic videos like movie clips and news segments. Save words as flashcards while you watch, and you’ll be able to compare them later to their French creole equivalents.


And since FluentU’s flashcards show you clips where the word appears, you’ll find plenty of context to build your foundational French knowledge.

Now that we’ve answered the “what” and the “why,” it’s time to show you the “where!”

Below, you’ll find an overview of where to learn three different French creoles online. Then, it’s just up to you to pick which creole to learn!

Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole is perhaps the most well-known of all French-based creole languages.

Not only is it spoken by 7 million people in Haiti, but it also boasts speakers in places like the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Guadalupe and Puerto Rico.

Haitian Creole, which has its roots in French and various African languages brought over from West African slaves, was recognizedalongside French as one of Haiti’s national languages in 1961—gaining the recognition it had long deserved.

The language has three different dialects: Northern, Central and Southern. While not as widespread as French, it still plays a prominent role in Haitianlife.

To get an idea of what Haitian Creole sounds like, check out this video from the Creole Institute:

If you’re interested in learning a bit of the language, below are a few words and phrases to get you started:

  • Sak pase?(How are you?)
  • Mwen byen(Very well)
  • Kon si kon sa (So-so)
  • Sa fè lontan (Long time, no see)
  • Mwen rele (My name is)
  • Anchante (Pleased to meet you)
  • Bonswa (Good evening)
  • Bòn nwi(Goodnight)
  • Orevwa (Goodbye)
  • Bon vwayaj (Have a good trip)

Where to Learn Haitian French Creole


HaitiHub is a website dedicated to helping people learn the language by offering tons of diverse resources.

They have loads of educational videos separated into different modules such as learning the basics, studying different tenses and practicing the correct pronunciation.Additionally, they offer cultural videos so you can learn things like Haitian prayers, common gestures andtypical phrases used by the natives.

Many videos are free, but HaitiHub also offers a membership option that allows learners to access even more lessons and tutorials.


Aside from videos, HaitiHub offers flashcards to teach practical expressions that’ll help you in everyday life. They also keep a blog where they write articles about Haitian culture and offer lessons on the country’s geography, history and more.


Sweetcoconuts is a blog withloads of free resources for language learners.

Their site includes audio recordings so you can learn proper Haitian French Creole pronunciation, videos with exercises to practice your new language skills and quizzes to test your level.

Their blog is also updated regularly with cultural tidbits, new vocabulary lists and information about Haiti.

You can’t go wrong with Sweetcoconuts, as it’s an active site that’ll answer any question you have about the language and provide you with new learning tools each month.

Louisiana Creole

First off, let’s clear up one common misconception: Louisiana Creole isn’t the same thing as Cajun French.

Cajun French is actually a dialect of French, whereas Louisiana Creole is a fully developed creole language.

Louisiana Creole was heavily influenced by both the slaves brought over from Haiti and emigrating planters from the Lesser Antilles. Despite it being a well-known language, it’s currently estimated to have under 10,000 speakers, putting it on the endangered list.

As such, it’s more important than ever that people decide to study this language and save it from extinction.

If you think you might be interested in learning the language, check out this YouTube video from Louisiana Historic and Cultural Vistas, which covers how to pronounce Louisiana Creole pronouns:

Additionally, below are a few words and phrases to introduce you to this beautiful language:

  • Bonjou (Hello)
  • Éy laba (Hey there)
  • Pas un bon jou (Have a good day)
  • Komen to yê? (How are you?)
  • Mo bon, mèsi (I’m good, thank you)
  • Ki çe tô nom? (What is your name?)
  • Mo nom çé (My name is)
  • Mo pens (I think)

Where to Learn Louisiana Creole

Louisiana Creole Course on Memrise

One of the best places to learn Louisiana Creole online is this course onMemrise, a learning platform that specializes in using flashcards.The lessons are broken down into tons of grammar studies and vocabulary training so you can start with whichever category you’d like to learn first and progress from there.

While you gain access to hundreds of flashcards, you also get accompanying audio clips so you can practice pronouncing Louisiana Creole correctly.

(Video) Can these 4 French-based creole speakers understand each other?

I find that their approach to learning is very easy, as the whole thingis guided, showing you the order in which they recommend lessons, tracking your progress and more.Plus, what I love about Memrise is that it automatically saves and tracks your progress while you learn.

Additionally, they’re continually adding flashcards and audio files and their resources are free to use!

Antillean Creole

Antillean Creole has an estimated 400,000 speakers in Martinique alone, with additional speakers in countries like Dominica, Venezuela, Guadeloupe and many more.

The language contains elements from French, various languages spoken in the Caribbean and many African languages.

The language is similar to Haitian Creole with a few major differences that you’ll probably be able to recognize by simply listening to some common Antillean Creole phrases in this Language Learning Tips video:

Check out a few words and phrases below:

  • Bonjou(Hello)
  • Sou plé (Please)
  • Mèsi (Thank you)
  • Eskizé mwen (Excuse me)
  • Ka ou fè? (How are you?)
  • Wouj (Red)
  • (Green)
  • Blé (Blue)
  • Lendi (Monday)
  • Sanmdi (Saturday)

Where to Learn Antillean Creole

A Virtual Dominica

If you like the look and sound of Antillean Creole, a great place to start seriously learning is A Virtual Dominica. This site focuses specifically on Antillean Creole in Dominica and offers tons of free educational resources.

They’ve got comprehensive vocabulary lists and grammar lessons separated into basic categories such as pronouns, colors, numbers, days, months and more so that you can become well acquainted with the basics.

Furthermore, they include sample sentences and explanations about the vocabulary when needed.

As their site is Dominica’s official tourism site, they also offer an overall look at cultural information and suggest additional resources for continuing your study of Antillean Creole.

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on all things French-based Creole, it’s time for you to decide which one you’re going to start with!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


Where might you find a French based Creole language? ›

  • Antillean Creole, spoken in the Lesser Antilles, particularly in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Saint Lucia. ...
  • French Guianese Creole is a language spoken in French Guiana, and to a lesser degree in Suriname and Guyana. ...
  • Karipúna French Creole, spoken in Brazil, mostly in the state of Amapá.

How many French based creoles are there? ›

A total of about 1.5 million people worldwide speak Creole-French as their mother tongue. Unless otherwise described in the text, this page is about native speakers — not the total number of speakers. How many people understand or speak Creole-French as a subsequently learned language is not the subject of this page.

What is the best program to learn Haitian Creole? ›

The world's most popular way to learn Haitian Creole online

Whether you're a beginner starting with the basics or looking to practice your reading, writing, and speaking, Duolingo is scientifically proven to work.

How long does it take to learn French Creole? ›

It takes 8 weeks to complete the Introduction to Creole course at the pace we recommend. But since the HaitiHub modules can be completed at your own pace, a learner on a tight timeline could move through the Complete Intro series in as fast as 2 weeks.

Where do French Creoles live? ›

Today, most Creoles are found in the Greater New Orleans region or in Acadiana. Louisiana is known as the Creole State.

Is it easy to learn French Creole? ›

Pidgin and Creole are relatively easy languages to learn. These are created by adults who already have a first language, in a situation where there is no common language already available and no opportunity for formal learning.

What is French Creole called? ›

Antillean Creole French, a creole language with vocabulary based on French spoken primarily in the Lesser Antilles. Haitian Creole, a creole language with vocabulary based on French spoken in Haiti. Louisiana Creole, a French-based creole language spoken in Louisiana People and cultures.

Who are French Creole? ›

Creole - people of color with light skin, often of African and French descent. French Creole - Caucasian people descended from some of the first Europeans to arrive in New Orleans. The evolution of the word “Creole”

How do you say hello in French Creole? ›

Oral language above all, with French as a lexical base, here are some common expressions in French Creole: Bonjou : Bonjour – hi. Bonswa : Bonsoir – good evening.

How long does it take to learn Creole fluently? ›

Tier 3: Languages that may have cultural and linguistic differences compared to English
LanguageTime needed to reach fluency
Indonesian900 hours or 36 weeks
Malaysian900 hours or 36 weeks
Swahili900 hours or 36 weeks
Haitian Creole900 hours or 36 weeks
Jan 5, 2023

How can I speak Creole fluently? ›

Oct 9, 2021

Can you understand Haitian Creole if you speak French? ›

Though in some ways similar to French, a French speaker would not be able to translate Haitian Creole because of all of the cognate terms.

Is there a difference between French and French Creole? ›

The truth is that French and French Creole speakers often have difficulty understanding one another. That is because they are essentially different languages.

What is the oldest Creole language? ›

Answer and Explanation: The oldest living creole language is Cape Verdean Creole. It is a Portuguese-based language and it is spoken on the islands of Cape Verde. Although this language is the native language of most of the population, the official language of Cape Verde is still Portuguese.

What makes a person a Creole? ›

The term is a derivative of the word “criollo,” which means native or local, and was intended as a class distinction. In present Louisiana, Creole generally means a person or people of mixed colonial French, African American and Native American ancestry.

Is Creole a race or ethnicity? ›

Contrary to popular belief today, the term carried no racial designation—one could be of entirely European, entirely African, or of mixed ancestry and still be a Creole. It simply meant someone who was native to the colony and, generally, French-speaking and Catholic.

How can you tell if someone is Creole? ›

Today, someone who self-identifies as Creole in New Orleans is likely to be a person of mixed racial ancestry, with deep local roots, and with family members who are Catholic and probably have French-sounding surnames—that is, Franco-African Americans.

What religion is French Creole? ›

The primary religion practiced by the French Creole is Roman Catholicism, the largest branch of the Christian church and one of the oldest religious institutions in the world.

What language is closest to Creole? ›

French and English are particularly close, since English, through extensive borrowing, is typologically closer to French than to other Germanic languages. Thus the claimed similarities between creoles may be mere consequences of similar parentage, rather than characteristic features of all creoles.

What is the most spoken creole language in the world? ›

Haitian Creole is the most widely spoken of any creole language, with between 10 and 12 million speakers. It is one of two official languages in Haiti, where the majority of the population speak it.

What is broken French called? ›

Creole is often incorrectly described as a French dialect. or as “broken French”. It is a language in its own right. with its own pronunciation and grammar.

What religion are most creoles? ›

Creoles are, like most southern Louisianians, predominantly Catholic. Southern Louisiana has the largest per capita Black Catholic population in the country.

What nationality is French Creole? ›

Creole, Spanish Criollo, French Créole, originally, any person of European (mostly French or Spanish) or African descent born in the West Indies or parts of French or Spanish America (and thus naturalized in those regions rather than in the parents' home country).

What is a white Creole? ›

Créole referred to people born in Louisiana whose ancestors were not born in the territory. Colonial documents show that the term Créole was used variously at different times to refer to white people, mixed-race people, and black people, both free-born and enslaved.

Where is Creole spoken in the US? ›

Louisiana Creole
Native toUnited States
RegionLouisiana, (particularly St. Martin Parish, Natchitoches Parish, St. Landry Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafayette Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana and New Orleans); also in California (chiefly Southern California), Illinois, and in Texas (chiefly East Texas).
13 more rows

Is French Creole still spoken? ›

French creoles are spoken today mainly in the Caribbean, in the U.S., and on several islands in the Indian Ocean.

What does Zoe mean in Creole? ›

"Zoe'" is the anglicized variant of the word zo, Haitian Creole for "bone", as members were known to be "hard to the bone." When conflicts against Haitians arose, the pound would be sought out to retaliate; thus, the street gang name, "Zoe Pound", was born.

What is your name in Creole? ›

Kijan ou rele? What is your name?

What is a popular Creole saying? ›

N'ap Boule is a very common greeting and response meaning Good! Mesi means Thanks and is a great way to be polite! Souple means Please, another easy way to be courteous. Pa gen Pwoblem means No Problem!

Is Louisiana Creole still spoken? ›

Who still speaks Louisiana Creole? Estimates say there are under 7,000–10,000 people who still speak Louisiana Creole. As is common with endangered languages, many Louisiana Creole speakers are older, preferring their native tongue and preserving their culture. Younger people very often adopt the dominant language.

Can French and Creole understand each other? ›

It is not mutually intelligible with standard French, and has its own distinctive grammar. Haitians are the largest community in the world speaking a modern creole language, according to some sources.

How close to French is Creole? ›

Although over 80 percent of the Haitian creole vocabulary derives from the French language, there are notable differences in the meaning of words that sound similar.

Is Creole a mother tongue? ›

Creole: When children start learning a pidgin as their first language and it becomes the mother tongue of a community, it is called a creole. Like a pidgin, a creole is a distinct language which has taken most of its vocabulary from another language, the lexifier, but has its own unique grammatical rules.

Are Creole languages rare? ›

These are quite rare across the world's languages (what linguistics call a "marked feature"), and their presence in creole languages is a clear inheritance from the West African languages spoken by slaves.

What does Sak Pase mean? ›

Phrase of the Day: "Sak pase" is a Haitian Creole. phrase that literally means "what's up". .

What's the difference between Haitian Creole and Louisiana Creole? ›

Louisiana Creoles are not Haitian. Creoles in Louisiana are mostly known as Cajuns. Both Haitians and Cajuns do share French as their base language, however. Louisiana Cajuns use an English-French mixture while Haitians use an African-French version.

Is there a difference between Creole and Haitian Creole? ›

The Portuguese creole is mainly spoken on the islands of Cape Verde while the Haitian Creole, which is French-based, is substantially used by emigrants living in Cayenne neighborhoods. The grammar of these respective languages is different. For instance, the verbs in Haitian Creole are never conjugated.

Is Creole a mix of Spanish and French? ›

Here, Creole is used to describe descendants of French or Spanish colonists with a mixed racial heritage—French or Spanish mixed with African American or Native American. The area was first settled by French colonists.

Is Yiddish a creole language? ›

In short: No, Yiddish is not a creole. A creole is a stable language developed from the mixing of parent languages. A creole develops if (and, AFAIK, only if) its speakers were children who grew up speaking what used to be a pidgin as their first language.

Who are the Cajuns of Louisiana? ›

The Acadians became Cajuns as they adapted to their new home and its people. Their French changed as did their architecture, music, and food. The Cajuns of Louisiana today are renowned for their music, their food, and their ability to hold on to tradition while making the most of the present.

What is Louisiana French called? ›

Cajun French is the term generally used to describe the variety of French spoken in South Louisiana.

Which country spoke Creole first? ›

Haitian Creole, a French-based vernacular language that developed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It developed primarily on the sugarcane plantations of Haiti from contacts between French colonists and African slaves.

Is there a Creole flag? ›

The Creole flag celebrates the mixed lineage, culture and religion of these Louisiana Creoles. The upper left section, a white fleur de lis on a blue field, represents Louisiana's French heritage.

What do Cajuns call non Cajuns? ›

Socioeconomic factors appear to influence how Cajuns are likely to view the term: working-class Cajuns tend to regard the word "coonass" as a badge of ethnic pride, whereas middle- and upper-class Cajuns are more likely to regard the term as insulting or degrading, even when used by fellow Cajuns in reference to ...

Where did the Creole race come from? ›

Regarding identity, Creole historically referred to those born in Louisiana during the French and Spanish periods, regardless of their ethnicity. Early Creole settlers did the best they could with the land.

What are the two types of Creole? ›

Creole languages include varieties that are based on French, such as Haitian Creole, Louisiana Creole, and Mauritian Creole; English, such as Gullah (on the Sea Islands of the southeastern United States), Jamaican Creole, Guyanese Creole, and Hawaiian Creole; and Portuguese, such as Papiamentu (in Aruba, Bonaire, and ...

Where are Creole languages spoken in the US? ›

Louisiana Creole
Native toUnited States
RegionLouisiana, (particularly St. Martin Parish, Natchitoches Parish, St. Landry Parish, Jefferson Parish, Lafayette Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana and New Orleans); also in California (chiefly Southern California), Illinois, and in Texas (chiefly East Texas).
13 more rows

Which country do you find Creole? ›

In present Louisiana, Creole generally means a person or people of mixed colonial French, African American and Native American ancestry. The term Black Creole refers to freed slaves from Haiti and their descendants.

What country in North America speaks French and Creole? ›

North American and Caribbean French Speaking Countries

Canada is the only North American French-speaking country, however, there is also a form of the language that still exists in the state of Louisiana in the United States.

What state is known for speaking French and Creole in the US? ›

Louisiana French is traditionally divided into three dialects, Colonial French, Louisiana Creole French, and Cajun French.

What is the oldest creole language in the world? ›

Cape Verdean Creole has particular importance for creolistics studies since it is the oldest (still-spoken) creole, the Portuguese-based creole with the greatest number of native speakers, the most studied Portuguese-based creole, and about to become one of the few creoles recognized as an official language.

What is the most famous creole language? ›

Haitian Creole is the most widely spoken of any creole language, with between 10 and 12 million speakers. It is one of two official languages in Haiti, where the majority of the population speak it.

What part of Africa did Creole come from? ›

Over time, both Africans and Europeans communicated in some form of creole. People of Angola and West Central Africa developed Angolar Creole Portuguese, a language still spoken by descendants of maroon slaves who escaped from Portuguese plantations on São Tomé beginning in the mid 16th century (1535–1550).

Do Cajuns still speak French? ›

French is spoken across ethnic and racial lines by people who may identify as Cajuns, Creoles as well as Chitimacha, Houma, Biloxi, Tunica, Choctaw, Acadians, and French Indians among others.

What US state has the most French? ›

Many U.S. cities have large French American populations. The city with the largest concentration of people of French extraction is Madawaska, Maine, while the largest French-speaking population by percentage of speakers in the U.S. is found in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.

Why did Louisiana stop speaking French? ›

Louisiana French is the legacy of early settlers and later arrivals, among them the Acadians, 18th-century exiles from eastern Canada who became known as Cajuns. But the language was nearly smothered in the 20th century by laws and customs that encouraged assimilation with the Anglophone world.

Which US city speaks the most French? ›

Madawaska, Maine


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