Whether you’re taking French classes or learning on your own, you might feel like you need a little extra practice.
Even if you already have a French pen pal or language exchange partner, there may be a point when you want to hire a tutor to help you.
Here’s how to find the perfect French tutor or French teacher online.
What makes a great French tutor?
Before I suggest a few online tutoring websites, let’s talk about how to choose a French tutor.
If you’ve ever looked for an online French tutor, you’ve probably discovered that there are lots of them out there. So, how to know which online French tutor would be the best for you?
Here are some things to consider. In an ideal situation, all of these boxes should be ticked when it comes to your French tutor:
A French tutor should ideally be a native speaker of French.
If you’re interested in learning French as it’s spoken in a particular Francophone country or region, you should ideally try to find a tutor from that place.
If for some reason it’s not possible to find someone who’s a native speaker, they should at least be fluent in French and, better still, have a degree in French or French teaching.
Clarity about rates and lesson times
A French tutor or teacher should openly list or tell you their rates (no hidden fees, etc.) and how long a lesson will take.
In an ideal situation, you should be able to do an online search of a French tutor or tutoring website to see reviews. This will show you that the tutor/site is experienced and legitimate, give you information about what to expect from their courses, and maybe even warn you if things won’t work out.
Be careful where you’re getting reviews from; obviously testimonials from the tutor’s own website, tutoring company, or a partner site won’t be unbiased.
If there’s not a review on a third-party review site, you can often use Google Reviews as an impartial source of people’s opinions.
A good mutual feeling
As with French conversation partners, the ideal French tutor should be someone you feel comfortable with and enjoy working with. This will make it much easier to keep up with your lessons, ask questions, and stay motivated.
That doesn’t mean your French tutor has to be a best friend, but if you don’t feel comfortable working with someone, you may want to look elsewhere (unless that discomfort motivates or challenges you).
Many online French tutors and French tutoring sites feature brief descriptions of how a lesson might go or the things they’d cover. In some cases, online French tutors might even offer a consultation or first lesson for free or at a discounted price, so that you can see how they teach and if it’s the right fit for you.
Does a French tutor need a teaching degree?
One of the things that isn’t included on the previous list is “has a teaching degree.” This is because many French tutors don’t.
It’s not because they’re not legit. It may be that they came into teaching in a different way than expected (for example, with overseas language teaching work).
The key thing is to make sure they’re capable of teaching. Do they speak fluent French – and ideally, are they a native speaker? And are they capable of teaching you?
Teaching style is crucial. Some people want a French tutor who’s strict and strictly business, while others prefer someone with a more friendly (although still efficient) vibe.
Six places to find an online French tutor
Now that you know how to choose a French tutor, let’s look at where to find one!
Here are six websites where you might be able to find the perfect online French tutor for you.
LanguaTalk is a language tutoring website that prides itself on accepting only 10% of tutor applications. This means they are likely to have better tutors than most platforms (although we haven’t verified these claims).
The site offers all sorts of tutors for all French learning levels. Each tutor has a written profile as well as a video introduction, so that you can get a good feel for their personality and teaching style. And you can have a free 30-minute sample session with the tutor before you sign up.
Cost: Another good thing about LanguaTalk is that the site seems pretty transparent about cost. Tutors set their own rates, which means there are options for many different budgets. Generally, depending on the tutor, the cost of a session can range from $15 USD to $30.
One of the most popular language tutoring websites, italki is easy to use and also lets you search very specifically for the French tutor you’re looking for.
Not only will you get a list of online French tutors and their written bio and qualifications; each tutor posts a short video, allowing you to get a sense of what it would be like to work with them, how easy it is to understand them, and so on. User reviews are also a part of each tutor’s profile.
italki’s filters let you choose native French speakers from different Francophone places around the world. You can also look for things like lesson price, type of teacher, and more.
The one downside, for me, is that the most important filter, the one that lets you choose which language you’re looking for a tutor in, is a bit hard to spot on some pages, at least on a desktop screen. Usually, you’ll find it at the top left.
Cost: italki is good if you’re on a budget, since many of their tutors offer lessons from around $10-20 USD per hour. On the other hand, for more specialized subjects, some tutors charge up to $76 USD per hour.
italki also has a free language exchange community board where you can get help with French-related questions or practice speaking French.
If a busy schedule has been keeping you from setting up French tutoring sessions, you might want to check out Lingoda. This site prides itself on having language lessons available basically at all times. This is made by possible by a team of tutors from around the world, so someone is always up and ready to give a lesson.
And if you don’t have a regular schedule, you don’t have to always do a session at the same time.
You can do one-on-one sessions, but Lingoda seems to promote small group (3-5 people) lessons more. That probably also helps with constant tutor availability.
Tutors seem to teach following a format suggested by Lingoda, and there are learning materials that are emailed to or accessible by students after each session. That said, you can choose your language level and other needs, so you aren’t just taking exactly the same lessons as every single other person who signs up.
There are a few possible downsides, though. For one, tutors always rotate, so you won’t necessarily be able to work with the same person. Another is that some people have complained that things like the cancellation policy and ending your subscription are complicated and unfair. The general consensus is to read the rules about these very carefully before signing up.
That said, Lingoda has far more positive Google reviews than negative ones,
and it seems like an excellent solution if you’re often busy or keep unusual or irregular hours.
Cost: There are several different plans, as well as different levels and even learning goals (including the new Language Sprint, a two-month, intensive language course), but expect around $45-56 USD per month, as of this writing. Remember that many users have complained that it can be hard to cancel a subscription, so look into this before you sign up.
Verbling is another good potential source for a French tutor, especially if you’re on a budget. Like italki, the tutors on this site can charge as little as $4 or 5 USD per session.
Like many of the other sites on this list, you can see a list of tutors and click on their profiles to learn about their qualifications, what levels they teach, and more. Their schedules are also prominently on display, making it easy to see if you would be able to work together depending on your availability. Unfortunately, most of the profiles don’t include a video.
Cost: A Verbling French tutor could charge as little as $4 or 5 USD per session.
Preply is a large online tutoring resource, with courses offered in a number of different languages, as well as totally different academic subjects like math and science.
Bigger isn’t always better, but in this case, it might be. Because Preply has lots of tutors, it’s easy to find one who would fit your schedule. Preply is also currently developing online French group tutoring sessions, which would be available 24/7.
And while some of these other sites might offer it, Preply is the first online tutoring site I’ve come across that explicitly offers online French tutoring for kids, so if you have a child who’s starting out in French and needs some help, or if you want to introduce them to the language, this could be a great resource for them, as well as for you!
Like most of the other sites on our list, Preply allows you to search for an online French tutor using filters like budget and availability. You can browse tutor profiles that include information about the potential tutor as well as a short video where they introduce themself. All tutors are verified by Preply and are required to attend regular training sessions to help them with their teaching techniques.
One downside, on the other hand, is that many users have complained about having to purchase several lessons with a tutor in order to work with them. This should be okay if you’re sure you’ve found the right tutor, but if you want to stop working with them, you’ll be wasting lessons you paid for, so consider carefully. Fortunately, many tutors offer a free first session or guarantee your money back if you didn’t like the first session.
Cost: Preply costs anywhere from about $5-30 USD per hour, depending on the tutor you choose. You can search for tutors by the price they charge. The first lesson may either be free or it could be reimbursable if you don’t like the tutor, but check this before you commit.
Independent French tutors’ websites
There are many French tutors who offer online courses via their own website or their social media. You can find these by doing an online search for “french tutor”.
For instance, one independent online French tutor’s site that I’ve come across is My French Coach, which belongs to a French tutor named Delphine. She has years of experience, a degree in language teaching, and seems professional.
That said, because her site is a one-person operation and not a site with a team of tutors, it’s hard to find impartial reviews via an online search. Delphine does have a list of testimonials on her own site, and My French Coach did get a “Best of Paris” award in 2017, so those are good signs.
Another good thing is that a consultation with Delphine, to see what you need to work on and if you’d work well together, is free, as is the first lesson, so you’d probably be able to get a good feel for her teaching style and abilities before committing.
You can look for offers like these from other independent online tutors to be sure you’ll get your money’s worth, especially since independent online French tutors will probably charge average to high rates. Also, before you start, make sure you understand things like cancellation policy and possible fees, etc. That’s good advice for working with tutors on large online language tutoring platforms, too!
Where can I find more online French tutors?
If you want to look for more ways to find French tutors, one of the easiest things is to do an online search.
But be careful! The tutoring sites on our list are generally well-known and not shady, but when it comes to searching on your own, remember to check that a tutoring company or tutor is legit before sending them money.
One of the easiest ways to do this is for an online search of that particular company/tutor. You should be able to find reviews, as well as see that they have a presence on at least one or two social media platforms or professional sites.
Some language exchange and social platforms have members who offer tutoring. Some of them might be experienced teachers, but beware, since these sources may not have a quality control platform.
For instance, Polyglot Club, a conversation exchange website, has a “Services Marketplace” section where some members offer tutoring. I’m not sure that these ads have been verified or to what extent, although at least members can leave reviews. This possible lack of quality control is even more frustrating since, unlike the site’s language exchanges, tutoring hours are a paid service, and rates seem to be average to high, so it’s not even a good budget solution.
This may also be the case for other online language tutoring ads you come across, so be careful before you commit. You may be able to contact the tutor and ask if they would be willing to do a free consultation or sample session with you.
Speaking of reaching out, if there’s a French learning podcast or French learning YouTube channel host that you like, you could see if they offer online French courses. If they don’t explicitly say this on their posts, you might be able to reach out and ask them via their professional email or social media messaging.
But note that it’s best not to ask this in the comments section of their podcast or video, since anyone could see it and may try to cheat you in some way.
The podcaster or YouTuber may not get back to you, and if they agree, their fees may be higher than an anonymous tutor you’d find elsewhere.
How to be safe when working with an online tutor
However you choose an online French tutor, whenever you talk to someone you don’t know online, be sure to stay safe. You can check out our list of safety tips for working with conversation partners, pen pals, and tutors before you get started.
Does a French tutor need to be a native speaker?
Some non-native speakers of French are qualified French teachers, having studied the language for years. That said, nothing is likely to replace a native speaker in the domain of accents and instinct.
By “instinct,” I mean that when you grow up speaking a language, the building blocks are there. It’s almost impossible to make a mistake on how to use a preposition, for instance, and you instinctively know how to turn a phrase the way any native speaker would.
No one is perfect, but working with a native French speaker is probably the best choice, especially if you want to improve your speaking skills as well as your general grammar and vocabulary skills.
Can I learn French for free?
You may have noticed that all of these online French tutors charge money for their lessons. This is pretty normal, although it’s a good idea to shop around to be sure a particular site or tutor’s rates are reasonable.
But what if you can’t afford a French tutor?
You may be able to find free French tutoring programs in your community, school, or university.
Another possibility is finding a French conversation partner. Although this isn’t the same as working with someone who has teaching experience, resources, and an in-depth knowledge of French, it will still let you do things like practice speaking, hear a native speaker, ask questions about things like vocabulary and everyday speech, and learn about French culture and pop culture.
French tutors usually don’t work for free, but fortunately there are many other free French learning resources out there that can help you improve your French. These are very much worth checking out, even if you do have a French tutor.
Have you ever had an online French tutor? Is there a French tutoring website you’d recommend? Feel free to share in the comments!