What a great time to be learning French!
And let’s not forget—mobile apps.
But you might be thinking, which French language learning apps should you start with?
No worries—we’ve put together a list of the 14 best apps for learning French in 2020.
Let’s dive straight in.
14 Best Apps for Learning French Like a Boss in 2020
Website: FluentU French
Price: Free trial available; then, pay monthly or annually for a full subscription.
FluentU is a really unique app because it immerses you in real French, no matter where you are. FluentU turns music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks into French learning experiences. You’ll learn real French the way native speakers use it in real life—things like common French expressions or slang. The videos also give you a really nice window into the French culture, which I think is pretty neat.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like movie trailers, funny commercials, music videos and web series, as you can see here:
But if you’re worried that you won’t understand the videos, don’t be. All of FluentU’s videos have interactive subtitles that you can tap on at any time during the video, and the video will pause to show you a definition and useful examples for the word you tapped.
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you’ve learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in the dynamic flashcards, like “fill in the blank.”
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. You’ll receive video recommendations that suit your interest and current level of progress.
Price: Basic functionality is free. Full features unlocked with in-app purchases.
Tandem has been described as the “Tinder of Language-learning Apps,” but don’t let that label make you think that people on the app aren’t taking learning seriously. Tandem is a French conversation app that allows you to practice French with native speakers and to build meaningful, long-term language-learning partnerships (“tandems”) with people all over the world.
The premise is simple: Tandem acts as a matchmaker service for finding language partners. Simply fill out your profile (a picture of you and a short description of your goals is often enough) and scroll through the scores of other profiles of people with similar language aspirations as you!
In an ideal situation, you’ll find a native French speaker, and you’ll spend time practicing French in exchange for letting that person practice English (or another language you speak!) with you. Learners have the option of conversing through the in-app messaging functionality or taking their exchange off-app and using an audio or video calling service such as Skype or Hangouts.
But Tandem’s features don’t end with a simple language exchange. To help learners make the most of their experience, the app also has an in-app translation feature, voice messages and personalized tutors that can be purchased at a per-lesson price.
The written messages come with message correction capabilities, meaning that your French partner can edit the written messages you send them. This is great for partners to help each other speak more naturally and correctly.
500 French Conversations
Price: Basic functionality is free. In-app purchases and ad-free content is available at a price.
The basic premise of this app is simple and quite self-evident: 500 French Conversations is an app that offers, well… 500 authentic French conversations!
The conversations are short and to-the-point, and they’re perfect for beginners and intermediate learners looking for speaking and listening practice.
The conversations themselves cover topics such as school, work and daily life, but with a library of 500 conversations, there’s no topic out of reach. The conversations are in no particular order, so you don’t need to complete preceding conversations to skip ahead and unlock the conversation you actually want to study.
The script for each conversation is available in French and in English, and after listening, learners can practice with useful fill-in-the-blank exercises to test their listening and speaking skills. 500 French Conversations would be a great addition to a French speaking app like Tandem.
Price: Free with in-app purchases.
MindSnacks is a beautifully designed iOS app for French learners. Even though the app is geared toward students, I suspect you’ll find the iOS French app to be highly enjoyable in helping you learn new French words.
Widely acclaimed for its game-oriented approach to learning and revising words, MindSnacks helps you learn new words through nine games. The app is divided up into different units of vocabulary like food, jobs and transport. For each vocabulary set, you can use these games to help learn and strengthen new words.
In one game, a word flashes on the screen, and you have to match it to the drawing. Get as many right as you can every round for high scores. In another game, a bunch of French words and English words appear as balloons. Your challenge is to match as many pairs as possible.
With over 50 vocabulary sets available, you’ll find that these games will help you get through most of the heavy lifting in an entertaining way, helping you comb through the basics in no time.
Price: One time low price to install, plus in-app purchases.
MosaLingua is a platform that’s a good blend between an interactive French app and an audio phrasebook.
What makes MosaLingua unique is its use of the Spaced Repetition System (SRS) when presenting new words. Basically, SRS is a way to calculate when words should be presented for you to revise just before they’re about to be forgotten. That way, in the long term, words you learn will stick with you a lot longer.
With over 14 categories and 100 sub-categories, all with conversations and audio files to boot, and covering over 3,000 phrases in its audio phrasebook, MosaLingua is designed to help you absorb all this material (and keep it!) in the shortest possible time.
MosaLingua has received largely positive ratings for its iOS French app and its Android French app. Overall, MosaLingua French is a great course to check out.
Mango Languages French
Price: Free with some library memberships.
Do you want to learn French online but don’t know where to start? Should you focus on grammar, vocabulary or listening and speaking practice?
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to choose! Mango Languages French is one of the best all-around apps for learning basic French. And best of all, Mango Languages is free with certain library memberships in Canada and the United States. Simply log into your local library and see if your library has a partnership with the app.
The primary Mango Languages French course has four units with five lessons in each. Each lesson revolves around a written and spoken French conversation. The subsequent activities include dissecting the grammar and vocabulary used in the dialogue through a flashcard-based approach.
In addition to its basic course, the Mango Languages French app allows you to record your own French audio to accompany each French word and phrase. This is great for comparing your recordings to native French speech and practicing the accurate pronunciation of French words and phrases.
Mango Languages French also has grammar and culture explanations, and it uses Spaced Repetition System (SRS) technology to help you review flashcards at regular intervals to keep learned vocabulary in your long-term memory.
Price: Free trial available; subscription required for full access.
It’s almost impossible to mention language learning without mentioning Rosetta Stone.
One of the oldest and most popular learning methodologies around, it’s now available as a mobile app.
Without going into the gory details, Rosetta Stone sets itself apart from many other language methodologies by offering a completely immersive experience. From the very beginning, it teaches French purely through French—there’s not a word in English inside the course.
By doing this, it simulates the environment that it believes is most conducive to learning a new language—when we were young children learning to speak our mother tongues.
Even though it can seem alien at first, by linking concepts and objects directly to French words (instead of their English equivalents), Rosetta Stone is a method that has great long-term benefits.
You’ll be taken through a well-sequenced program where you’ll be exposed to words, sentences and phrases that builds on top of what you’ve already learned.
For instance, you might be taught the French word for man (l’homme), woman (la femme) or water (l’eau) through pictures. A phrase might then be shown to you that says “L’homme et la femme boivent d’eau.” (The man and the woman drink water.) You might not know the word boivent (to drink), but based on what you’ve already learned, along with visual aids, you can probably guess.
If you’re a stone-cold beginner in French, and you’re looking for a French iOS / Android app that allows you to learn French in a pure way, Rosetta Stone might be what you’re looking for.
Of course, you’re probably aware of the downside to Rosetta Stone: It’s expensive. That said, the program offers a free trial that you can take for a spin, and you can occasionally find some great discounts and sale prices on the site. And if you’re a student, you’re in luck—there's a special student discount!
One of the most innovative free apps for learning French words I’ve seen in a long time, Memrise is an excellent choice for your learning needs if you’re struggling to remember French words after a while.
Its methodology is highly unique. Unlike most language learning apps, it doesn’t (just) teach words through pictures. It teaches you French words through humor. For example, the phrase “j’attends” (I am waiting) might be remembered by “I am waiting until I am old enough to attend school,” along with a picture of a baby with a pacifier. (You have to see it to really see the humor!)
The best thing is that these aren’t created by professionals—they’re submitted by the community. So you’ll be seeing firsthand how other people learning French manage to learn tricky words by disguising them through clever jokes—an approach I’m sure you’ll find highly effective.
Memrise has many modules ranging from Basic to Advanced levels, where words are presented in batches of fifteen centered around themes like verbs, thoughts, feelings and colors.
A really creative way of tackling one of the most difficult problems of learning any language (acquiring vocabulary), the Memrise iOS and Android French apps are definitely worth checking out.
Français Authentique (Authentic French)
Price: Français Authentique is free. Membership with the Français Authentique community is possible where learners can access additional learning materials.
This app is based on the successful Français Authentique YouTube channel. As of May 2020, Français Authentique’s YouTube channel has over 800,000 subscribers, and its host, Johan, has helped countless people improve their French through his French vlogs and podcasts.
Français Authentique’s YouTube channel is completely in French, and as such, the app is also completely in French. This includes the actual in-app audio and video content as well as the descriptions and supporting materials. Because of this, this app is recommended for those who have at least a solid basis in French such as high beginners and intermediate learners.
The audio and video content revolves around podcasts produced in slow, clear French. Podcast topics include common French vocabulary and grammar topics, lifestyle vlogs and Johan’s interest in self-improvement and productivity.
New audio and video content is constantly added, and PDF files can be downloaded from the app for learners to follow along.
Price: No longer available.
[Note: Open Language French is no longer available. If you’re looking for an app that provides comprehensive learning in a course structure, we recommend checking out some of the other French apps on this list: Busuu, Mango Languages and RosettaStone.]
Open Language French is a bit more formal compared to other French learning apps—it’s actually based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), which is an internationally accepted scale of measuring language proficiencies of foreign language speakers.
Inside Open Language, you’ll see that it has many components in a lesson. You start off with a dialogue, which the lesson is centered around. Two native (or bilingual) hosts play out the dialogue, and interject English notes to explain new concepts and words along the way, so in a sense, even though you’re learning French with an app, it feels like you have two teachers.
After that, you can go through vocabulary to solidify some new words, as well as an expansion for additional related phrases to expand your vocabulary.
There are also some great classroom themed activities like doing a written task on the learned material (for instance, you might be asked to write a short paragraph on a favorite movie), and there’s also a discussion section where you can ask questions on the lesson.
While it feels less entertaining than many other apps listed here, it’s also one of the most comprehensive French apps and covers a lot of ground. Highly recommend Android / iOS app for learning French.
Price: Free download with in-app purchases.
Busuu French is a very different app than what you’re used to—like all other apps, there’s a learning component—but what makes it really unique is that unlike other apps that are geared towards personal use, it has an active community of users to help you practice speaking French.
The Busuu app is also based on the CEFR, so its material is highly certifiable. In each lesson, you’re typically taken through key vocabulary, the dialogue, a writing exercise, a practice speaking session with native speakers, a dialogue recording and a lesson review to close things up.
Similar to Open Languages, it’s very comprehensive in the topics it covers, and the exercises are designed around speaking, writing and listening.
So if you’re someone who prefers a program with a lot of different exercise types to it, and lots of native speakers to practice with, the Busuu French app for iOS / Android might just be the thing for you.
Price: Low one-time price to download.
SpeakEasy is actually a phrasebook app available for iOS and Android you can take with you on the go.
Armed with native speaker recordings, you can be sure that you can get the whole experience when traveling to a French country. So when you find yourself in situations where you have to speak French, you have these recordings to fall back on.
Some cool features of SpeakEasy are the slow playback feature and flashcards. This way, you’re really armed with everything you need to succeed with learning and practicing new French phrases!
Price: Free; paid monthly premium subscription available.
Among all the apps here, Duolingo probably strikes the best balance between learning French and being fun, like a game. And it’s got some serious accreditation to boot. It was the winner of both Apple’s App of the Year (2013) and Google Play’s Best of the Best (2013) awards, so you can bet it’s really well designed.
In a nutshell, I think Duolingo really excels in simplifying. Even the design speaks for itself—with a cute green bird as its mascot and a clean, minimalist theme, it’s certainly easy on the eyes!
What Duolingo does is it breaks down everything, adjectives, question words, tenses, abstract nouns (words like “feelings”), technical terms and more, and chunks them together into neat units. If I can count, there are about 60 units in total for Duolingo French, so you’re probably going to be busy for a while.
One of the best things about using Duolingo is that it’s really quick to use. Inside every unit, there are sub-units, where Duolingo teaches you about seven new words. It does this through a combination of fun exercises such as rearranging sentences, matching a picture to the word and repeating a phrase in French to be assessed.
And there are only about 20 of these questions per unit, so you can get through it pretty quickly.
The great thing about Duolingo is that you don’t need a huge time commitment to use this. If you only take 20 minutes every day to go through three or four units, you can probably get through all the units in Duolingo in three months. That’s 1,500 words in three months!
On top of that, Duolingo has other great features including the ability to follow friends, an XP “track” to benchmark your progress, a virtual currency store to buy new clothes for your bird mascot, a word meter that designs review lessons based on your familiarity with words and more.
In all, Duolingo is a great iOS French app and Android French app that actually succeeds in teaching the committed student French with less than 20 minutes of daily practice.
Highly recommended for beginners! If you want to learn French online with a free app, Duolingo is a great place to start.
Pro Language’s French English Translator
Pro Language’s French English Translator is a translation app that supports both French and English input. Whether you want to translate a single word or you want to copy and paste a full text from your device’s clipboard, the app offers an accurate translation from either English to French or French to English.
In addition to its written-input functionality, the app also supports speech input. Simply say the French or English you want to translate and get an instant translation into the other language. Do you want to actually hear how the French sounds? Well, lucky for you, Pro Language’s French English Translator also includes text-to-speech technology.
It’s a Great Time to Be Learning French with Apps
As you can see, many of these apps share a common goal: to distill learning French into its bare essence and present it in fun, digestible lessons.
Learning French online through apps is truly a great tool for French learners…whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner.
Of course, each app is designed with just a slightly different purpose in mind. So, not every app might be for you. But hopefully, after this post, you have a better idea of the types of French learning apps available for both iOS and Android devices, and whether they’re suitable for you.
Merci et bonne chance! (Thanks and good luck!)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.