9 French Flashcard Apps to Learn French in a Flash, Plus Tips to DIY Your Own Deck
For better or worse, smartphones are here to stay.
The good news for all you language learners out there is that there are now hundreds of apps that’ll allow you to take your French skills to the next level. The bad news is that you no longer have any excuse to put off studying!
In this post, we’re going to explore the best French flashcard apps and tell you how to make the most of them!
- How to Choose the Best French Flashcard Apps
- 5 Quick Tips to Get the Most out of Your French Flashcard Apps
- 9 French Flashcard Apps Plus Tips to DIY Your Own Deck
- Physical Flashcards
- DIY French Flashcards
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How to Choose the Best French Flashcard Apps
Before you run off to the app store and start blindly downloading, you’ll need to narrow down your options. There are so many flashcard apps to choose from! If you don’t believe me, just ask Google.
Unless you truly love spending your free time sifting through oceans of apps, the number of options can be daunting. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to distinguish a great app from a terrible app. Here are some characteristics of a great app—look for options that have one of more of the following features:
- The flashcard exercises use a Spaced Repetition System (SRS)
- You’re able to make your own flashcards (ideally with pictures and audio)
- You can share sets of flashcards with other learners
- Your progress is tracked and analyzed
- It uses multimedia to create a better context for learning
- You get additional features like audio pronunciation and usage examples
If any indecisive readers are still feeling panicked, rest assured that we’ll direct you toward our favorite flashcard apps after we explore some tips for usage. If you decide to go rogue and play with apps that aren’t on our list, keep the above tips in mind.
In the meantime, let’s not focus entirely on which apps to use, but instead take a look at five easy tips to make the most out of whichever app you choose!
5 Quick Tips to Get the Most out of Your French Flashcard Apps
1. If you have the time, make your own cards!
Half the fun of flashcards is making them! Okay…maybe not half the “fun,” but it’s certainly the reason why so many students who make their own flashcards score higher on tests.
The logic behind this is obvious: time spent making flashcards = time spent studying!
Homemade flashcards engage all three styles of learning, including Kinesthetic (through physically spelling out the word), Visual (by reading the word) and Auditory (when you speak the word out loud, you also hear it).
If you can, try to dedicate a certain amount of time each night to making your own digital flashcards if your app allows it, or physically. By doing so, you’ll get the absolute most out of your app.
We have more information about how to make your own flashcards at the end of this post, so stay tuned!
2. No time? No excuse.
Let’s face it, between balancing school, work and relationships, time can be a scarce commodity.
Many modern language learners lament, “I’m just so busy… I don’t have time to study flashcards, let alone make them!” Twenty years ago, that tired line may have worked, but no more!
Nowadays, you can jump onto one of the many flashcard apps out there, browse through premade sets, find the vocabulary words that’ll benefit you most and study them whenever you have a few minutes of downtime. While it may not be as effective as making your own cards from scratch, it’s still undeniably more helpful than playing “Fruit Ninja” on the bus ride home.
3. Break it up.
Have you ever started the day by telling yourself, “Today, I’m going to study my vocabulary for 30 minutes” only to find that you’re kicking yourself at bedtime for skipping it?
Some learners’ ambition tends to rise and fall with the sun: Eager in the morning, tiring out by noon and exhausted by evening. After a big dinner, it would take Herculean willpower to sit down and study foreign vocabulary for a large chunk of time.
But rejoice! The answer to this age-old dilemma has arrived and is probably resting quietly in your coat pocket (or resting loudly… depending on your ringtone).
Now that you can take your French flashcards with you everywhere—something that was previously a hassle—you can break up your studying into little chunks over the course of the day. Give yourself a realistic goal every day and break the overall time up into miniature study sessions while you’re on the bus, eating lunch or just waiting for class to start. If you find that you don’t hit your goal exactly, so what?
Every little bit helps! You’ll be amazed at what a 10-minute review here or a five-minute self-quiz there will do for your vocabulary.
4. Embrace synergy… it’s a wonderful thing!
Alright, if you’ve ever sat through a business class, you probably just rolled your eyes at the word “synergy.” Synergy is one of those textbook key terms that has become a little cliché… but in its defense, it’s cliché for a reason.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, synergy basically means that, sometimes, the sum is greater than its parts. In other words, with the right team, you can achieve something much better than you ever could alone.
In the words of Vince Vaughn, it’s “people helpin’ people.”
Despite popular rumors, studying doesn’t have to be boring. This is especially true with flashcard apps.
You and your friends can share your e-flashcards. You’ll get to see who can define the most French words in the least amount of time. With portable e-flashcards, you and your study group are only limited by your own creativity.
So, the next time any of your friends start saying, “What do you want to do…?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do…?”—you can all whip out your phones, play a vocabulary game and finally put an end to that ridiculous conversation.
Try doing this little activity with three phones: One can have a premade set to describe the person (first person singular, second person singular, etc.), one can give the verb tense (present, imperfect, subjunctive, etc.) and the third can be a compilation of verbs. Sit all three phones in the center of a table, set the flashcard settings to “mix” and keep score to see who can conjugate the most verbs before messing up!
5. Be on the lookout for errors and omissions.
Obviously, it’s a huge time-saver to study French using decks that other people have made. However, not all decks were created equal.
Some of these apps have “official” or “certified” courses or decks. These tend to be more reliable.
The sharing free-for-all of the internet means that there are a lot more options available—and it also means that some options won’t be as high-quality as others. Just be aware that there are some errors in the community-created decks, which is not uncommon when using content made by other users.
Aside from avoiding flashcard decks with reported errors, you’ll be better off using decks that include a gender indicator and accent marks.
Because French is a language with gender agreement, it’s important to learn the genders of nouns. So, look for decks that use definite or indefinite articles (or some other indicator) to tell you a noun’s gender.
And, because the meaning of some French words can literally depend on the presence or absence of accent marks, you’ll want to make sure that the flashcard decks you use include them.
9 French Flashcard Apps Plus Tips to DIY Your Own Deck
Looking for the biggest, baddest French flashcard decks on the internet? Then you’ve got to take a look at what Anki’s got going on.
Anki can support decks that span over 100,000 individual cards, and it’s got a huge user base that’s been highly active for quite some time now. This dedicated language learning community has created, compiled and shared thousands of French flashcards covering every skill level, theme and interest.
You’re also able to customize every last detail related to your flashcard content, card layout, practice exercises and assessments. A recap with a running set of statistics allows you to measure your progress. You can even tinker with the SRS settings and try to optimize when and how different flashcards appear during your study sessions.
Anki allows you to embed rich content into your cards—meaning that you can jazz them up with all kinds of text formatting, vivid images and sound clips, including music!
If you find traditional flashcards a little hard to concentrate on, FluentU’s multimedia flashcards could help.
The program teaches primarily through authentic videos, the kind that native French speakers actually consume, like movie clips and trailers, music videos, talks and many others in the same vein.
Where do the flashcards come in? Well, as you watch videos, you can click on a word in the French subtitles to see a contextual meaning. From here, you can also add the word as a flashcard to your general vocabulary list or to a deck of your creation.
These flashcards include the meaning and grammar details, an associated image, audio pronunciation, example sentences and other videos where the word is used for additional context.
This level of context means that you’re not learning vocabulary words in a vacuum. As a result, you’ll be able to memorize their meanings better, and know how to actually use the words you’re learning in conversations.
You can review flashcards through exercises that adapt to your level of comfort with each word: The better you know a word, the less frequently you get quizzed on it. Exercises include multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, translation as well as typing and speaking questions for additional practice.
The FluentU program can be accessed on Android, Apple or through your browser.
When you use Brainscape’s flashcards, you can rate your knowledge of each word, phrase or concept on a scale of 1 (Not At All) to 5 (Perfectly). Brainscape uses your answers to determine how often certain cards will appear in your study rotation.
The English words are presented first, meaning that you must come up with the answer in French yourself, rather than just recognize a French word or phrase. The Confidence meter will show how well you’re progressing.
With four certified study levels in French, plus a unit on French verbs, you can start as a complete beginner and work your way up to an advanced level—learning grammar and vocabulary along the way.
Some of the higher-level content includes flashcard decks with French idioms, history, politics and false cognates.
Many cards come with grammar and usage tips, to coach you on how to use the French words you’re learning in context. Every time you flip a card to get the answer, you’ll hear it read aloud in French.
These cards are well-reviewed and should be relatively error-free. However, if you feel the need to suggest an edit, you can just click on the pencil icon in the upper right-hand corner of any flashcard.
Use your free access to try out several decks in each unit. If you wish to unlock more content, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.
In addition to the iOS and Android apps, you can use Brainscape on your favorite web browser.
MosaLingua is an app that focuses on teaching the words and phrases that’ll be most immediately useful to learners. With the iOS and Android versions, you can start learning right away through flashcards, dialogues and pronunciations provided by native French speakers.
Like with Anki and other general flashcards programs, you can also make use of an option to create your own cards. However, there are special considerations given to language learners here. With the web version of MosaLingua, you can browse pre-selected content and instantly create flashcards from words and phrases in authentic material you read online.
As your content and progress are synced over all devices, you can then use the flashcards you created while doing your French reading to review vocabulary whenever it’s convenient for you.
CleverDeck lives up to its name—it’s pretty darn clever. Like many of the other apps here, it presents us with customizable spaced repetition flashcard decks. The app wants to turn your brain on autopilot and have you absorb tons of French vocabulary as quickly and painlessly as possible.
While the app has gathered around 3,000 important French vocabulary and phrases to build the French flashcard deck, it really wants you to focus on those first 1,000 words. If you’re an advanced or nearly fluent learner, feel free to jump into the deep end and practice more complex language with this deck.
If you’re a beginner, CleverDeck will really help you get your priorities straight and improve your French fluency quickly. As CleverDeck says loudly and proudly, 1,000 more common French words will account for about three-quarters of your language. Learn these guys, and you’ll be three-quarters of the way to total French mastery.
Each flashcard uses authentic audio pronunciations, relevant images and usage examples to get the meanings of the words across. That means you won’t just stop at rote memorization of each word’s written form, you’ll also be able to study up on your French pronunciation and learn how to use these new words in context.
The app has also considered the importance of context in these flashcards, grouping all the words into relevant thematic categories and helping you to better develop relationships between words. Plus, you’ll have a blast learning all of this because everything is gamified—you get points for successful moments in the flashcard exercises.
At this point, CleverDeck is available only for iOS devices. However, the developer has expressed interest in making an Android version, so stay tuned!
A flashcard app for serious learners, VocApp can help you learn everything from days of the week and words for travelers to Business French, French IT terms, legal terms, French slang and international politics vocab.
If you’re studying for standardized academic tests, such as the GCSEs, or a CEFR placement test, like the DELF, VocApp has specific courses to help prepare you for these exams.
Create your own French courses with VocApp by building flashcard decks of your own. You can also download units from courses as PDFs, which you can then print out as flashcards or crib sheets for offline use.
In addition to these goodies, there are downloadable MP3 files of the vocabulary from each course, read aloud in French and English.
VocApp’s flashcards include some interesting features, such as browsing (to learn and study), write-in answers (with and without coaching), self-assessment mode and multiple-choice quizzes.
Use VocApp on a web browser, or with your Android or iOS device.
Chegg Prep (formerly StudyBlue)
StudyBlue created this app, which is both well-organized and user-friendly. Now owned by Chegg Prep, it’s available for both Android devices and iOS users.
You’ll need to create an account through your email, Google or Facebook ID to use this app. If you select “Student” when asked to give more information about yourself, be prepared to provide the name of a high school or university. (The “Parent” role doesn’t have this stipulation.)
There are many pre-made decks from other users if you don’t feel like making your own decks, like these:
Unfortunately, the French language doesn’t seem to feature in the Expert Content flashcard decks, although this may change in the future. Also, many of the decks at the intermediate level seem like they’d be more for advanced students. Some are for the study of specific topics, such as law, finances, sports or the Hebrew language.
When you make your own decks, you can write your answers and hints using special formatting, such as boldface, italics and bullet points. Also, you can add images, either in JPG or PNG format, to make your cards more memorable.
One big plus is that you can test yourself quite rigorously with these decks, and your scores will be automatically tracked. This will give you some good perspective on your French progress over time.
Quizlet is one of those apps that’s fantastic because it has every advantage going for it and it’s very user-friendly. It allows you to create your own multimedia flashcards by attaching pictures and recording your voice. As you go along creating flashcards, it’ll ask you what language you’re typing in (for both sides of the flashcard) and accented letters sit nearby, waiting to be added with just the click of a button (always a plus if you aren’t working with a French keyboard).
Oh, and there are thousands upon thousands of French language learners on this site creating and sharing their existing decks. Learners—and teachers, too—are using this site to dream up bigger, better and more relevant decks of flashcards for today’s French students. See what they’ve got to offer already, and then start designing your own French decks once you feel inspired!
Although it has a few quirks, such as text-to-speech that pronounces the final r at the end of accelerer (to accelerate), StudyStack generally stacks up very well among French flashcard apps. It can be used with Android and iOS devices, as well as via web browser.
You’ll have hundreds of pre-made French vocabulary decks to choose from—including ones that focus on verbs, common prepositions and other grammar topics. You can see at a glance the topic and number of cards in each deck, as well as star rankings bestowed by other users.
As you quiz yourself with these flashcards, you can choose to start with the French term—or challenge yourself even more by starting with the translation, which forces you to recall (rather than just recognize) the French vocabulary. You also have options to hear auto-generated audio, retry a single card or shuffle the deck so you can quiz yourself again.
In addition to the traditional flashcard review, StudyStack sweetens its offerings with a baker’s dozen of other study options, including Snowman/Caveman (Hangman variations), Crossword, Unscramble, Matching, Study Table and Quiz.
You can take your learning in hand with printable versions of the StudyStack flashcards. Along with standard-sized 3×5 or 4×6 inch index cards, you can find a few larger or smaller sizes that might better suit your needs.
Besides making hard copies of flashcards, you can also print out a table of all the vocab on the cards. Create a printable word search or crossword puzzle with the deck—or make a matching quiz worksheet. You can even print out cards for a custom Bingo game!
As great as these mobile apps are, sometimes, you just want to take learning French into your own hands.
Kinesthetic learners absorb information better when they can be hands-on with their study materials. A physical flashcard deck can engage your tactile senses more than a touchscreen.
Just the heft and the texture of the flashcards—even the scent of the paper or the sound and feel of shuffling—can give you a different kind of mental stimulation than the ubiquitous mobile device experience.
Physical flashcards can be as plain or fancy as you like. If you’re prêt à acheter (ready to buy) ready-made flashcards, there are numerous options on the market.
Some of them are strictly text-based, like the decks from Pat’s Flash Cards that help you learn French verb conjugations.
Others add simple images, like the beginner’s French Icon Cards that skip the translations entirely. This forces you to focus on the concepts and start to think directly in French, rather than translating from your native language.
A few add audio, like the Linguacious French Flashcard Game. The Linguacious cards include QR codes, which link you to listening, speaking and even writing practice.
Some, like KLOO’s Learn to Speak French Language Card Games Pack, even encourage you to use your French vocabulary interactively with others, composing sentences with the words and phrases you’re learning.
There are several more options, even ones from big names like Barons and Berlitz. These got mixed reviews, as did the Travelflips series (which are intended for tourists).
You can find some pre-made flashcards online through Walmart or Barnes & Noble. You might even consider a visit to a local teacher supply store. However, your best bet for the widest variety of pre-made French flashcards is through Amazon.
DIY French Flashcards
To really give yourself extra study opportunities, consider making your own French flashcards. Fill them with words and phrases from your language journal.
Start out with some high-quality index cards. There are many size options available.
Think about how and where you’re going to use your cards. You might opt for a smaller-than-standard deck if you’re going to carry your cards in a pocket or purse. If you’re keeping the flashcards at home, you might choose a larger deck that you can keep in a box.
You can also get them lined or unlined, depending on your personal preferences.
How about color-coding your flashcard decks? If optic white or ecru isn’t your style, try a multi-colored deck of cards. Electrify your studies with neon cards or keep it calm with pastels.
Once you’ve chosen your color palette, ponder which colors best match which parts of speech: You might use green cards for verbs, blue for nouns, red for adjectives and yellow for adverbs. You could also use different colors to represent various vocabulary topics or difficulty levels.
Some blank cards come with rings, so you can hook them together to form custom decks. Other index cards are spiral-bound, creating a small notebook.
Get yourself a nice set of permanent markers or colored pencils and write out your French flashcards by hand. Research shows that writing by hand stimulates the brain and improves processing and retention of what you’re learning.
You might write the French words in cursive and print the translations, or vice-versa. Jot down grammar tips on the “answer” side of the card.
Think about other features you can add to your flashcards, to make them more memorable.
Take a trip back to childhood and add stickers to represent basic vocabulary words like animals or household objects. Or, if you’re the artistic sort, why not sketch a little something on each card that reminds you of the French word you’re learning? Use your imagination and really have fun with the process!
Remember that flashcards don’t have to be limited to a French term and its translation. Try putting your vocabulary words and phrases in context: You can make fill-in-the-blanks flashcards, writing most of a French sentence on the front and the missing word or phrase on the back.
You might also think about making yourself multiple-choice flashcards.
Try adding a tally to each card to track your progress, indicating how many “misses” or “hits” you’ve had with each card. These indicators may not be as sophisticated as the statistics available through many mobile apps, but they should give you an idea of words that need more attention.
When you start to feel that your cards are getting too easy, it’s probably time to add some more words or phrases to the set. If you choose to put some easier cards away for a while, remember to keep them within reach. After all, you’ll want to periodically review them, just so you don’t forget them.
So, now you’ve got all the tips and resources you’ll need to use digital French flashcards effectively—and even a few ways to go old-school, with physical flashcards.
But remember, language learning tools will only yield results if you put in the effort.
Having an app on your phone will do you no good if you never use it.
By employing those five quick tips every day, you’ll see your French skills improving in a flash with flashcard apps!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)