What’s the best French learning app out there? The answer to that question is more complicated than you might think.
With so many offerings on the market, you might feel overwhelmed – but actually, this variety of French learning apps is a good thing, since it means there’s more of a chance of finding the right fit.
I’ve looked into eight of the most popular French learning apps. Here’s what I honestly think of each one.
French Together is a conversational French app which means that its goal is to help you speak everyday French as quickly as possible.
While most apps try to teach you a little bit of everything, French Together prepares you for real-life conversations by teaching you the most common vocabulary and helping you practice listening and speaking skills.
Dialogues are the star of the show with French Together, and it’s great that they can be listened to at the speed real French people would speak, as well as in a slowed down version. There are also speakers of different origins, so you aren’t just listening to one or two people speaking standard French.
I like that you can see lines of dialogue in their written form, too – a helpful feature for us visual learners and/or hearing impaired people!
As you work, the app also has helpful windows of information about grammar and vocabulary that you can choose to read and learn about or ignore if you prefer. (I’m a grammar junkie, so I read them all.)
French Together is focused on dialogues and essential vocabulary in everyday spoken French. This is incredibly helpful for many learners – maybe even most. But this means it’s light on grammar and non-essential vocabulary. (That said, I’m just going to pop in and toot my own horn for a second – subscribing to the French Together blog can help fill in those gaps, with our articles on all sorts of grammar-, vocabulary-, and culture -related topics.)
Also, like many French learning apps, there’s not much here to do with reading or writing in French.
The French Together app is an excellent way to practice listening and speaking in French. It’s light on grammar and reading, but its focus on essential vocabulary and phrases makes it ideal for people who want to confidently have conversations in everyday French.
As of this writing, French Together is a web app that can be used on just about any device.
As of this writing, French Together costs$144 a year or $24/month if you choose the monthly plan. You can check French Together’s Pricing page for the cost in your local currency.
One of the best-known language learning apps, Duolingo focuses on fun, with an interface that works like a game, with levels to complete (and later review) and fun prizes to earn, like costumes for Duo, its owl mascot.
Most of Duolingo’s exercises are translation-based, with users completing sentences. There are some mini-lessons about grammar and the like, but the app is more about practice than learning.
Duolingo is also known for the daily reminders it sends users to practice, making it the subject of a funny meme (that’s mostly an exaggeration…we think).
Duolingo is easy to use, fun (and often funny), and may be the perfect way to motivate you to keep practicing French.
There are no basic or in-depth grammar lessons, only mini ones, making Duolingo a good complement to your French learning, but not a standalone course.
Another issue is that, as French Together’s founder Benjamin Houy has pointed out before, sure, it’s fun to practice French with weird sentences, but it’s unlikely you’ll actually use the funny phrases the app gives you to work with.
Speaking of sentences, many users and reviewers have noted that not all of Duolingo’s sentences are written the way a native speaker would say them, and some may even have slight inaccuracies in translation.
Duolingo is a fun and often funny way to practice French. But “practice” is the key word. It’s not a standalone course for French learning, but rather a supplement to your French studies.
As of this writing, Duolingo is available as a mobile and web app.
As of this writing, Duolingo is free. There’s also a Super Duolingo option for $6.99 a month that includes features like no ads and personalized lessons based your mistakes.
Pimsleur courses have been around since the 1980’s and are still going strong. Made for beginner to intermediate level French learners and based on a scientific method of vocabulary repetition, Pimsleur has an excellent reputation. But it isn’t exactly the whole package when it comes to language learning.
When it comes to helping you learn basic French vocabulary skills, Pimsleur has been effective for lots of people. Other users have praised the course’s emphasis on pronunciation. The goal of the Pimsleur French course is to get learners to a point where they can speak functional, essential French, and that goal often seems to be achieved.
Learners listen to dialogues and then follow a series of lessons that build on vocabulary from these dialogues. There are a number of review and pronunciation exercises to help you keep important words in mind – and master them.
While the Pimsleur Method has been an effective way for lots of people to learn and remember basic French vocabulary, it doesn’t teach more than that. If you want to talk about a wide range of topics, improvise a conversation, or discuss a niche subject, Pimsleur won’t teach you to do that.
Some users have also noticed that the French you’ll learn tends to be more formal than everyday conversational French (this is particuly noticeable when you compare it to a conversational app like French Together).
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Pimsleur course focuses mainly on audio learning, and there are no structured, in-depth grammar explanations or lessons. You learn as you go, conjugating verbs as they fit into sentences. Some people like this, since it may seem like a more natural way to learn. Others (including me), prefer to learn verb conjugation and other grammar rules in an organized, clear way.
A pro and a con
Unlike many of the other language learning apps on our list, Pimsleur’s lessons are supposed to take about 30 minutes. It’s great to practice French for thirty minutes or more a day . Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do this. So that’s something to consider before signing up.
Ultimately, Pimsleur is generally a very effective course for beginner through intermediate French learners to become proficient in basic French. But if your goal is to have a broad vocabulary and a good general knowledge and understanding of French grammar, this probably isn’t the course for you. It may also not be compatible with your goals if you want to focus on everyday speaking skills, or if you don’t have a lot of time for French lessons each day.
As of this writing, Pimsleur is available as a downloadable course or as an app compatible with iOS and Android.
As of this writing, the app costs $20.95 a month. Pimsleur seems to spotlight its course, rather than the app. As of this writing, you can buy the complete, 5-level Pimsleur Premium course for a one-time fee of $575, or you can buy individual course levels for $150 each. You can find the prices in your local currency on Pimsleur’s pricing page.
Babbel’s language learning app offers French lessons for beginners to upper intermediate level. Each course is made up of nine lessons that each take roughly 10 minutes or so to complete.
Each lesson focuses on specific vocabulary, which could get repetitive, but the review exercises are varied enough to keep things from getting boring. Exercises range from interactive dialogues to word scrambles, touching bases for different kinds of learners (audio, visual, etc.) and skills.
Babbel also uses what you learn in practical scenarios – for instance, master a few prepositions and you’ll see them applied to a dialogue about asking directions in French.
Some lessons also feature extra bonus information and details that pop up in little windows. These can range from helpful grammar tips to information about works of art being discussed in the dialogue you’re working on.
In addition to lessons, you also get review options like flashcards and additional exercises.
With its varied exercises and review methods, Babbel covers a lot of ground and lets you practice writing, listening, and even speaking French.
The app’s dialogues are recorded by real French speakers at normal or slightly slow speed, which is a good thing – but there’s no option to slow them down, a helpful feature that many other language learning apps, including French Together, offer.
Another thing that many other language learning platforms offer that Babbel doesn’t is transcripts of dialogue. These can be helpful for studying and are just about essential for hearing impaired people like myself.
One more thing to keep in mind is that, the live French classes and lessons offered on the app cost extra.
Babbel offers a range of exercises and review options that will help you practice many aspects of French. It’s a great mix of serious learning and a few fun activities. But it lacks a few helpful things: transcripts of dialogues and the ability to slow down audio. And classes that are offered cost extra.
As of this writing, Babbel is available as a mobile and web app.
As of this writing, Babbel costs $13.95 for one month, $29.85 for three months, and $83.40 a year. There are also some other subscription plans (6 months, lifetime…). You can check those out – as well as check out the prices in your local currency if you’re not based in the US – on Babbel’s Prices page.
FluentU is a language learning platform with a cool concept: learning through videos. Namely, actual French videos you’d find on YouTube. You can listen to the videos at regular or slowed-down speed, and also benefit from cool features like highlighting words to get a translation. Plus, the subtitles are far more accurate than the AI-generated captions you’ll find on most YouTube videos.
FluentU features a huge variety of videos, covering a wide range of topics and genres, for learning levels beginner through advanced. Many of these videos, especially for more advanced levels, are ones that actual French people would watch.
As for those highlighted words I mentioned in the summary, in addition to getting a translation, you can save them to learn and review for later with a number of different exercises. The learning portion is especially helpful, since words are connected with often memorable images to put them into context.
There isn’t much grammar featured on FluentU, and when you do run into a grammatical concept, lessons and explanations are extremely concise and often leave out important details. For instance, you might learn an adjective as a vocabulary word, but it would only match with the gender and number of what it’s modifying in the video you saw. You won’t see an example of its other form(s). Exercises about verb tenses give examples but no in-depth explanation or conjugation charts, etc.
And while FluentU is an excellent way to practice your listening, there’s no way to practice speaking. The app also doesn’t particularly cover reading or writing in French.
FluentU’s concept of learning French through videos is a really cool one. There’s a great variety of videos to choose from at all levels, and the subtitles are top-notch. But while the app excels with this and vocabulary, it seriously lacks in grammar and also doesn’t offer any help with speaking or pronunciation, not to mention writing. This seems like a good app to use to improve listening skills, but it’s not enough to use for thorough French learning or practice.
As of this writing, FluentU is available as a web and mobile app for iOS and android systems. You can also download some content to study offline.
As of this writing, FluentU costs $19.99 a month, or $143.99 a year. You can find the prices in your local currency on FluentU’s Pricing page.
Busuu is a popular, award-winning learning platform that features lessons for beginners to upper intermediate French learners.
Busuu features a personalized learning plan comprised of lessons that include practice with listening (both audio and video are used), vocabulary, and grammar. The platform is also known for allowing users to record responses to certain exercises and ask other users who are native or fluent speakers their opinion.
Compared to a lot of other language learning apps, Busuu sort of feels like a one-stop shop. You’ve got listening practice with both audio and video. You have five-minute lessons on a variety of grammar topics, as well as a variety of review activities.
And then there’s the fact that you can ask Busuu community members who are native or fluent speakers of French what they think of your pronunciation – an unusual added bonus.
Despite its variety of offerings, no language learning app can completely and thoroughly teach you on its own. Many users have said that while Busuu is great for helping with listening and grammar, for instance, you won’t get much conversation practice. Add to this reading longer texts.
The conversation practice issue could be solved if you use Busuu’s Conversation feature, which lets allows users interact with each other. But it depends on who’s willing to talk to you and for how long. And keep in mind that a fluent speaker isn’t the same as a native speaker; the former may not speak like an actual French person would.
Busuu offers a variety of ways for beginner to upper intermediate French learners to learn and practice French, featuring audio and video resources, and grammar and vocabulary exercises. Add to this the possibility of interacting with fluent or native speakers and there’s a lot to like here. Still, Busuu does have its downsides, including a lack of structured conversation practice and reading practice.
As of this writing, Busuu is available as a mobile and web app, for iOS and android. You can also download some content to practice offline.
As of this writing, Busuu has a free option, but this only includes a few lessons and flashcards. So, it’s definitely better to purchase a membership. There are a few different Busuu Premium options, including one for 59.99 euros per year and one for 11.99 euros a month.
Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous language learning systems out there, boasting millions of users over its three decades of existence.
The course focuses first on teaching the fundamentals of a language. Then, learners can choose to continue with personalized 25-minute tutoring sessions.
If you enjoy learning visually like me, Rosetta Stone may appeal to you with its use of words matched with images in an immersive experience to help you memorize vocabulary. Other aspects of Rosetta Stone’s method also lean more towards the visual, as well.
Some learners like structured, thematic lessons rather than more fun-oriented random prompts and exercises. If you’re one of these learners, you’ll probably also like Rosetta Stone, too.
The lessons and teaching sessions are also a really cool addition – you can watch helpful videos or participate in online classes. And you can even have one-on-one personalized tutoring sessions, for an extra fee.
While there are some audio and speaking features, including a pronunciation checker and audio you can listen to at slow speed, Rosetta Stone is frequently criticized for not being particularly focused on audio learning. If you prefer learning with visuals like me, this may not seem like such a big deal, but when you consider that most of us learn a language in the hopes of being able to correctly speak, pronounce, and listen to it as well as write and read it, this isn’t necessarily a great thing. There are also quite a few studies showing that learning through a mix of visual and audio produces better outcomes.
Add to this the fact that many users feel that the program’s audio, while performed by native speakers, is much slower and more formal than real everyday French would be, which means that even if you’ve successfully completed all of the Rosetta Stone courses, you still may have some trouble with speaking and listening to everyday French.
Another issue is that while Rosetta Stone will appeal to people who consider themselves visual learners, it still doesn’t feature a lot of intensive grammar information.
Rosetta Stone is a well-known language learning system that has its good and bad sides. If you enjoy learning visually, it’s worth checking out. Its online courses and videos are also a helpful resource, although unfortunately if you want personalized, one-on-one tutoring sessions, you have to pay. But despite its fame and features, keep in mind that Rosetta Stone isn’t the best way to practice speaking and listening to everyday spoken French.
Rosetta Stone is available as both a web and mobile app. You can also purchase the entire course or an entire course plus tutoring package.
As of this writing, Rosetta Stone offers a number of subscriptions, including lifetime access to the course plus tutoring options for $520. A yearly plan breaks down to about $11.99 per month. For all of these plans, one-on-one tutoring costs extra. You can check Rosetta Stone’s pricing page for prices in your local currency.
Rocket French takes a fun but fairly thorough approach to language learning, with two sections of lessons. First, there’s audio, where you’ll study dialogues and build vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking skills based on those. Then there’s a language and culture section featuring information about not only French culture but additional grammar information.
I personally love the fact that Rocket French includes a specific section for additional grammar information – and culture! The latter is such an important part of language that’s often neglected by language learning apps, or only mentioned in passing.
I also like the “Saved Vocab” feature, which tracks the words you’ve looked up and collects them in a convenient place so that you can go back to review them later.
Rocket French’s audio lessons feature fun, everyday dialogues and exercises that build on these. For instance, you can listen to a dialogue and then take part in it, with AI analyzing your pronunciation. Another pro, especially for fellow visual learners and hearing impaired people, is that the dialogues have transcripts.
Rocket French also features a Forum where you can post questions that will be answered by community members and teachers.
While learners and non-native speakers may find the dialogues excellent, native speakers like French Together’s Benjamin Houy have found that in audio lessons for lower level students, one of the dialogue participants has a slight accent. In his in-depth review, Benjamin wondered if this was a deliberate choice, making it easier for learners to relate and put themselves into the dialogue. But intentions aside, it means that one of the speakers may not be the perfect model to listen to, even if, realistically, almost all non-native speakers of a language will still have some kind of accent, no matter how fluent they become.
Another issue many users have with Rocket French is that it’s not as visually appealing as many other French learning apps – it’s just a basic interface. So if ~aesthetic~ is important to you, that might be an issue.
And if you don’t have much time, Rocket French’s lessons are on the longer side, taking about 20-30 minutes to complete.
Rocket French is a web app/course, but there is also a simplified app for iOS and Android…allegedly. These are a bit tricky to find and I’m wondering if they might be undergoing an overhaul just like the course did earlier this year.
As of this writing, you can buy all three levels of the Rocket French course (beginner to advanced), for $259.90. The usual list price for this is $449.85. There are other plans, including purchasing just Levels 1 and 2 or just Level 1.
There’s also a less expensive app version, which has slightly fewer features.
Check the pricing page for prices in your local currency.
What is the best French learning app?
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what the best French learning app is. No, I’m not even going to say French Together! 🙂 This is because everyone learns differently and has different goals and needs. The real question is, what is the best French learning app for you?
Which French learning app should I choose?
Again, everyone is different when it comes to learning, and everyone will have an app that works best for them. Here are some areas where the different apps on our list excel:
|Best app for fun, everyday practice||Duolingo|
|Best app for French listening practice||FluentU/ French Together|
|Best app for mastering everyday French conversations||French Together|
|Best app for relatively short but varied lessons and practice||Babbel|
|Learning app that covers the most aspects of French||Rocket French (Busuu is a close second, but lacks lessons on French culture)|
Based on your priorities and preferences, this list can hopefully help you find the right French learning app for you. Keep in mind that you can also use more than one, especially for apps that are free, have a free version, or are on the affordable side.
And if you’re still not sure which app is the one for you, many of them offer free trials. For instance, French Together offers a free 7-day trial and a 30-day money back guarantee.
I hope these French app reviews were helpful to you. Whichever one(s) you choose, good luck and enjoy your French learning journey!