So, this seems like a pretty normal conversation, right?
Bonjour! Comment vas-tu? (Hello! How are you?)
Je vais bien, merci. (I’m well, thanks.)
But it is not.
What if I told you that conversation was not between two friendly French-speakers?
Or even between two people?
Would you believe it was between a budding French learner and a robot?
Yes! French chatbots are an increasingly popular tool to practice French in a realistic setting.
In this post, we will show you three of the most interesting and reliable French chatbots for today’s language learner to talk with.
Why a French Chatbot Should Be Your New Language Buddy
French chatbots act as virtual francophone buddies that we can practice our (less than perfect) French speech on. The best part is that you can practice without judgment.
Mistakes are a part of learning anything new and language is certainly no exception. Practicing with a chatbot can help relieve the anxiety of making mistakes and get you comfortable communicating in French, until you are ready to try it with a real person. In fact, many of them will even help you notice your mistakes or correct them so you can catch bad habits before they start.
French chatbots are also great because they are so convenient! You can open one of the apps below anytime and start talking with a chatbot about whatever.
Finally, these chatbots cover a range of French learning needs. Not all chatbots are made just the same! Some are specifically designed to teach you French with a focus on themed vocabulary, conversation skills and more. Others are designed for native French speakers but can be put to great use for natural language practice.
No-stress French: 3 Chatbots for Judgment Free Conversation Practice
Before you jump into foreign territory and download or purchase the first chatbot you see, review our list of the best French chatbots to help you on your language learning journey.
These are our favorites, but there are plenty more out there for ambitious language leaners to explore. For an in-depth list of non-English chatbots, check out this page on Chatterbot Collection.
If you enjoy this type of real-world language practice, round out your learning with FluentU.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the French language and culture over time. You’ll learn French as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with FluentU's adaptive quizzes. 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."
As you study, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a 100% personalized experience.
You'll receive video recommendations that suit your interests and current level of progress.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Before you get going with the chatbot apps below, you might enjoy this FluentU video of a journalist having a bit of fun chatting with Siri.
This is a well-known French language learning app that launched their chatbot back in 2016. It offers both text chatting and speech recognition so that you can actually talk out loud to the bot.
Not only does the French chatbot already understand over a million phrases, it responds with a voice as well.
It gives users practice of conversational French in various scenarios, such as ordering from a restaurant, hailing a cab or visiting a tourist site in France. Within the selected scenario you will hear the chatbot ask you a French question, and you will see suggestions for how to respond written on the screen. Then you respond by holding down the microphone button and speaking. You can also click the keyboard icon to type your response if you prefer.
English translations are provided, but you can toggle them off if you are ready for more of a challenge.
If you love this type of language learning, Mondly takes it to the next level with a tool called Mondly VR. VR stands for “virtual reality.” You will get to explore a digital world and chat with the characters you meet, kind of like a video game. You will still get suggested responses, speech recognition and everyday conversation topics, but in an even more immersive environment.
If you have polyglot dreams, Mondly is available in 33 languages.
Duolingo is another popular language learning app that also introduced its foreign language learning chatbot program in 2016. This app provides users with an on-demand way to practice French conversation, but without the awkwardness.
There is not just one bot personality, but several chatbots who talk with you about different topics. They will ask questions that are designed to flex your vocabulary and grammar skills. You will read the bots’ messages and also hear them spoken out loud, and you will type your responses. Do not worry if you get stumped—there are hints and suggested responses.
Chat subjects include cooking and dining out, driving directions, leisure activities and more.
From beginner to advanced, the Duolingo bots can accommodate every skill level. The app even offers an initial language test to verify your French skill level, if you are uncertain.
The chatbots are only available on the iOS version of the Duolingo app for now.
Jam is a French-language chatbot created by a student, Marjolaine Grondin. It is a little different than the other two chatbots on this list, since it was designed for use by native speakers.
The bot operates through Facebook Messenger. It is designed to be a cool, culturally-savvy virtual buddy. It picks daily topics from the media to discuss, asks fun and motivational questions and even offers some games and quizzes. It always chats with a sense of humor, according to the chatbot’s reviewers.
Jam will toss some topic ideas your way—recent topics have included everything from Ethiopian politics to freelance work to ice cream. You can also choose what time Jam will message you, which is perfect for adding some routine French conversation practice into your day.
Since Jam is designed for native speakers, a strong level of French comprehension is needed to get the most out of it. However, Jam will suggest answers to its questions, so you will not totally lose the thread of the conversation.
Technology is awesome and always improving! Add a French language chatbot to your language learning tool belt and make learning a bit more fun and intuitive. With a French chatbot on the other end of the conversation, you never know what you are going to get, which keeps things fun and interesting. With enough practice you will be ready to graduate to real French conversations with living, breathing native speakers!
Stasie Tillman is an author and financial educator with a love for all things French. She continues to pursue French fluency and making the world a better place through education. You can check out her current course offerings at A Stoic Life Financial Resources.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.