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Best Apps To Learn French
Find the best app to learn French with our rankings of the most popular online courses and programs
French is one of the most popular second languages on Earth to learn. Whether for the food, warm southern beaches, art, or the energy of Paris, people simply love France. Yet, for those Francophiles that want to learn the language, French can be a very difficult second language to master. As such, choosing the right language app can make or break your learning experience. In this guide, we break down the best apps on the market to learn French, covering everything you need to know.
After evaluating over 10 French programs, our #1 pick and editor’s choice is Rocket French. When considering all the important factors, their French course is the most comprehensive and well-rounded from A-to-Z.
Powerful Interactive Audio Lessons
The most beneficial aspect of Rocket’s program is their interactive audio lessons, in which you get exposure to fluent speakers and conversations through the use of simulated conversations.
In my opinion, these mock conversations are extremely useful and practical. They’re great for improving your listening and verbal skills, and go well beyond the standard lessons you get with other apps.
You’re essentially asked to use the French language under pressure just like you would in real life circumstances. That’s the key point: you get simulated, real world experience with Rocket’s audio lessons.
Follow-Up Exercises to Drive Retention
Beyond the audio component, Rocket also offers a bunch of reinforcement exercises and drills to help improve your reading and writing abilities. After the audio lesson is done, you complete flashcard drills, speaking exercises and other fun, fast-paced assignments, all of which really help to hammer home language retention.
Powered By Google Web Speech API
One other beneficial aspect of Rocket’s course is that their lessons operate in tandem with Google’s Web Speech API, which is one of the most cutting-edge speech tools in the world.
Here’s how it works: as you complete the audio lessons and various reinforcement exercises within the program, Rocket’s tech records your speech and then uses Google to determine the accuracy of your pronunciation of French words on a scale from 1 to 100.
It’s actually pretty amazing awesome. The instant feedback is super useful for ensuring you’re pronouncing words correctly and using the language properly. In my opinion, it’s one of the better uses of speech software out there.
Focus On Grammar
The final positive that I’ll note is surrounds Rocket’s grammar usage. I like that Rocket makes grammar insights and instruction a major part of its coursework.
Both their audio lessons and digital textbook lessons are packed with helpful explanations and tips to help you master all the various grammar rules and principles in the French language (which FYI, can be pretty different from English).
Effective, Though Not Cheap
Really, the only flaw I can point to regarding the Rocket French course is price. Simply put, their lifetime plans are more expensive than the other apps and courses on this list.
However, it is important to note here that the standard prices you see on Rocket’s website are a little misleading, as Rocket is almost always running some sort of deal or special promotion. I generally see this course discounted by at least 50% (if not more), which ultimately makes Rocket very competitively priced.
Taking the #2 spot on our list is the app from Pimsleur. In fact, their French program is neck and neck with Rocket’s app in several respects. For example, Pimsleur also offers engaging, interactive audio lessons that really help improve your listening comprehension and conversational skills, as well as a variety of drills and exercises beyond the audio lessons.
When you boil it down to the core elements, their French program is very much like Rocket’s. However, Pimsleur does differ from Rocket in a few key areas.
Better For Visual Learners
For one, the Pimsleur lessons, exercises and drills incorporate more imagery and graphics than Rocket’s French lessons.
To be clear, neither course is visual-heavy like Rosetta Stone. Nonetheless, if you’re more of a visual learner but still want powerful audio-based lessons to drive your studies, Pimsleur may be the more appropriate choice for you.
Driving Mode For Commuters
In an attempt to kills two birds with one stone and make use of lost commuting time, the Pimsleur team has added a special driving mode feature. This feature allows you to knock out lessons while on the road directly your through your car stereo.
Thus, if you find yourself on the road a lot, whether for work or pleasure, then Pimsleur may be the more convenient choice. Again, this allows you to kill two birds with one stone and finish lessons while you’re on the go – something I found to be a major benefit.
Therefore, if you want to take things slow and sort of feel the course out before fully committing, Pimsleur is going to be the cheaper option to start out. Plus, Pimsleur even offers a free 7-day trial period so you can take their course for a test drive before buying if you want.
Bottom line, think of Pimsleur as a cheaper alternative to Rocket French. Their lessons are similar to Rocket’s in several respects, but their French course overall is just not quite as extensive as Rocket’s, especially in regards to grammar instruction and speech recognition technology. However, all in all, Pimsleur gets two big thumbs up from our team.
Third up on our list is Babbel, and they take our pick for best budget French course. To be clear, their French program isn’t quite as thorough as Rocket’s or Pimsleur’s when it comes to overall content, but really, that’s just because their course curriculum is a little light on verbal practice.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you do practice speaking with Babbel, but just not in the form of full-blown, mock conversations.
Other than that though, Babbel receives very high grades across the board. Here are the Babbel French key highlights as I see them:
Their practice exercises and drills are diverse and engaging.
The speech recognition technology is swift and accurate.
Babbel’s lessons contain streamlined grammar content and instruction that’s easy to digest.
The mobile app and digital interface are sleek and intuitive.
Not to mention, perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that the Babbel French lessons are fairly short. At just 10-15 minutes each, they are much shorter than the lessons from Rocket French and Pimsleur, which typically run closer to an hour to complete.
In my opinion, this makes Babbel an excellent choice for working professionals or busy folks out there who just don’t have a ton of time each day. Plus, they’re just fast and fun, which makes the language learning experience more enjoyable.
However, with all that said, perhaps the best part about Babbel French is that their subscription plans are very affordable. To be precise, they’re as low as $7 per month, so that’s definitely a nice bonus.
Bottom line, if you want quick, engaging lessons that won’t break the bank, Babbel is an awesome option and our best value pick.
Finally, taking our pick for best live instruction is Lingoda. Now, Lingoda is not a full-blown language learning course in and of itself. Instead, think of Lingoda more so as an online language school. Their program is centered around live classes with certified fluent teachers.
How It Works
So here’s how it breaks down: you pay a monthly fee and get access to a set number of live classes. You then choose between small-group live classes (with no more than 4 students per class), or 1-on-1 tutoring (if you prefer more personalized attention).
The classes are typically 60 minutes long and accommodate all learning levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced. And what’s convenient about Lingoda is that they offer hundreds of classes throughout the week, all at different times throughout the day. This allows you to pick a study plan that fits your specific calendar.
Then, after scheduling and completing each class, you can download the relevant study materials and take a short quiz to really help the material sink-in before moving on.
Who Lingoda Would Work For
Overall, I was just really impressed with the Lingoda French classes. If you’re not a great self-studier and need live instruction with a weekly study plan to keep yourself accountable, then I think Lingoda is a great option. It’s just a fantastic way to interact with other students and learn from professional French teachers.
What are the best French learning apps?
After purchasing, using and thoroughly testing out over 10 French language apps, we have narrowed down our list of the best to just four: Rocket French, Pimsleur, Babbel and Lingoda. Other French learning apps are serviceable, but these four stood out at the best and got our top grades.
Do online French courses work?
Yes, online French courses absolutely work – assuming you dedicate the time. With the advent of technology like Zoom, AI to assign drills, and speech recognition software, online courses are more effective than ever.
Are there free online French courses or apps?
Yes, there are numerous free French resources online. Apps like Duolingo provide a free version, and some YouTube channels even offer recurring live video lessons. However, in our experience, the most effective courses and apps are paid subscriptions.