The language learning industry is a booming market. Do you want to learn the French language? Here are the best programs to learn French online.
Programs to learn French
Unfortunately, though, not all courses live up to the hype. The adage “You get what you pay for” doesn’t always hold for foreign language programs. If you’re searching for a quality French course, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced this first hand.
In this post, we look at 5 of the best programs for learning French. We hope we can spare you the trouble of throwing money at a product that doesn’t live up to its marketing claims and help you find a course to help you reach your learning goals!
But before we get into our list, it’s probably a good idea to talk about what exactly makes a good French course.
What exactly makes a French course good?
It helps you improve your conversational abilities
Surprisingly enough, the conversational ability is often overlooked in language learning programs. Finding an app or course that teaches basic grammar or word-by-word vocabulary is easy.
A good French learning resource will teach you vocabulary and grammar, but it will do so in a practical way that helps prepare you for actual French conversations. The vocabulary that’s taught should be useful and applicable to real-life situations.
A solid language program will also use a method beyond simple route memorization or repetition. You want to learn French in a way that engages you and forces your mind to actively use the language.
It doesn’t gloss over a French grammar
For native English speakers, French is not the grammatical behemoth that you’re likely to run into while learning languages like Japanese, Arabic, and other languages far removed from your native tongue.
That being said, some key differences in French may take some getting used to.
The first is grammatical gender. All French nouns can be broken into one of two groups: masculine or feminine. Based on its gender, a French noun will usually have a particular ending (note: the gender is grammatical and doesn’t necessarily have to do with the gender of the thing you’re talking about).
There’s also the issue of verb conjugation. French verbs will change form based on who or what is acting. To the native English speaker, this will seem weird at first. In English, we can say things like “I swim, you swim, we swim, they swim, and she/he swims.” In French, the verb “to swim” will change based on whether I, you, we, they, or he/she is swimming.
Tackling the difficulties
While these aspects of the language might scare off new language learners, they’re not all as scary as they might seem. They are certainly nothing, but a decent explanation and a bit of consistent practice can’t be overcome.
A good French program will do just that, adequately explain the more difficult grammatical concepts and give you ample opportunity to practice them.
It helps you learn French in a holistic way
We talk about this a lot on our website, but it bears repeating. There are four aspects of learning a foreign language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Why are these four parts so important? Because they reinforce one another.
Remembering a French word that you read, hear, say, and write is a lot easier. These four aspects also help you use the language in a real-world context. The best courses are the ones that allow you to learn all four aspects of French so that you engage with the language in a way that’s holistic.
The unfortunate alternative is that students of French get stuck focusing on one or perhaps two aspects of the language and neglect the other two.
Our picks for the top 5 French learning programs
Frenchpod101 features audio lessons in a podcast format. Lessons are great for grammar and vocabulary. Each lesson is designed around a French conversation between native speakers, and the teachers do a great job of keeping things engaging.
Lessons are built around plausible scenarios, such as looking for something in the supermarket, ordering food, or simply catching up with an old friend. While it’s not as structured as Rocket French, it’s still a substantial French learning tool (it’s also much cheaper).
The site features transcripts, an in-site flashcard system, and many other useful features.
Duolingo is usually one of the first courses we recommend for learning a foreign language. It’s free, effective, and fun to use. The app is built around a game-like format and largely teaches grammar via example sentences and definitions. Users are required to listen, speak, read, and write while using the app.
Duolingo is easily one of the most popular language learning apps out there. Its success and popularity pretty much speak for themselves. As said before, the app is free to use, so if you haven’t already, go and check it out!
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is entirely audio-based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills. They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in your new foreign language.
This unique method helps you start to think in French, much like you would if you were talking to real people (no other French audio course achieves this in quite the same way). With Pimsleur, You’ll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of pronunciation.
However, the course doesn’t focus much, if at all, on reading or writing.
Because it excels at teaching you French in a way that is both practical and grammatically thorough, Rocket French is our top choice. The program’s lessons are divided into language and culture classes and audio lessons.
The audio lessons include dialogues that have been recorded. The dialogues typically teach the language in “chunks” or phrases rather than individual words and provide English explanations (this is great for conversational French).
Grammar is the main topic of discussion in language and culture lessons. Each of these lectures breaks down French expressions into their grammatical units. See how the grammar functions behind the scenes of the conversational sentences and help pull the veil off the language.
Rocket French is a thorough program that does a decent job of mixing speaking, listening, reading, and writing. You’ll be required to talk, listen, write, and read in French for all the course exercises and games.
Even while practicing with actual French native speakers is still preferred, the course may be the greatest alternative.
What is the best program to learn French for you?
You now know which French study tools we recommend the most! I hope this list was useful to you. Every program on this list offers a free trial of some kind. I suggest giving the course you’re thinking about a try if you’re unsure about which one is best for you.
Which curriculum is best for you mostly depends on your unique needs, learning preferences, and styles. When it comes to learning a language, there is no one-size fits!