21 Best Online French Classes in 2023 (Honest Reviews)
Looking for the perfect online French course?
In this post, you’ll learn exactly which online French classes I recommend for 2022, and how they’ll help you learn.
I have spent hours analyzing and reviewing these online French courses to sort out which ones are really worth your time.
Here, I’ll give you a rundown of the most effective online courses you can begin today to fast track your French, whatever your learning needs.
- 1. Best One-on-one Course: Lingoda
- 2. Best Video-Based: FluentU
- 3. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
- 4. Best for Speaking: The Michel Thomas Method
- 5. Best for Conversation With Natives: Busuu
- 6. Best Entertainment: Frantastique
- 7. Best Podcast-Based: Coffee Break French
- 8. Best University Courses: Athabasca University
- 9. Best Story-Based Learning: The French Experiment
- 10. Best Accredited: Alliance Française Toronto (Toronto French Alliance)
- 11. Best for Canadian French: Francolab (French Lab)
- 12. Best Immersion-Based: Berlitz
- 13. FrenchClasses
- 14. Babbel
- 15. Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Mellon University
- 16. Alison
- 17. Learn French Online for Free
- 18. Loecsen
- 19. Language Transfer French
- 20. Lingoni French
- 21. FrenchPod101
- What Do I Need in a French Online Course?
- Should I Take a French Online Course?
- How Much Would a French Online Course Cost?
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1. Best One-on-one Course: Lingoda
Summary: Lingoda transfers the in-person learning experience online in as true a form as possible.
Lingoda offers French courses for virtually all levels of French. Each course follows a set curriculum that is broken down into units revolving around a particular subject as well as individual lessons.
You have the option of taking the lessons one-on-one with a French native teacher or in a group class with three to four other learners.
The lessons balance speaking, listening, reading and writing, as well as grammar explanations and practice. Each lesson also comes with a downloadable PowerPoint presentation and homework to review and reinforce your learning.
Best of all, Lingoda periodically offers its “Language Sprint.” In short, Lingoda challenges participants to complete 90 French lessons in 90 days for a 100% refund of the course fees if successful at the end of the Sprint.
2. Best Video-Based: FluentU
Summary: FluentU exposes you to the language as it’s spoken by natives through authentic videos.
FluentU uses authentic French videos like music videos and TED talks to create immersive and engaging lessons.
These videos come with fantastic learning tools such as interactive captions, flashcard decks and custom quizzes.
FluentU also has a video dictionary, multimedia transcripts, a number of audio lessons and video content for everyone from the beginner to the advanced learner.
I find FluentU to be incredibly effective as it will immerse you in such a way that you will quickly learn not only French, but French as natives would speak it. You can even download FluentU on iOS or Android.
3. Best for Pronunciation: Rocket Languages
Summary: Rocket Languages is an effective audio-based course for beginner and intermediate learners not on a budget.
This user-friendly, classroom-style course can be accessed with a one-time (somewhat pricey) fee.
Unlike many programs, it focuses on pronunciation. The system recognizes your voice and can provide feedback, as well as match pronunciation for thousands of words with that of a native speaker.
The lessons are audio-based and last roughly half an hour. While lessons can sometimes be repetitive, they break down grammar and vocabulary concepts and can even be downloaded and used offline.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one for an advanced student or those on a budget, but the overall course is effective.
Read our full review of Rocket Languages here.
4. Best for Speaking: The Michel Thomas Method
Summary: Michel Thomas can get you speaking French right away, but is not a budget-friendly option.
The Michel Thomas Method is one of few programs that aim to teach you conversation from the very beginning.
From day one, Michel explains how to compose sentences with essential French vocabulary.
The program is audio-based and encourages you to memorize vocabulary through active use. Then, when you’re faced with a situation where you need a specific word, retrieval is much easier.
While on the pricey side for an audio course, the method teaches you French naturally, and in a way that is supposed to be less stressful than traditional methods.
Not to mention, you will have more confidence speaking French early on in your language-learning journey.
5. Best for Conversation With Natives: Busuu
Summary: Busuu manages to squeeze bite-sized lessons, language learning tools and a social community all onto one platform.
With the premium version, you’ll have access to flashcards, quizzes and vocab training for 12 languages. If you stick to the free version, you’ll have access to all of that but for just one language.
Busuu really focuses on speaking the language, so there is speech recognition, dialogue and even a community feature that puts you in touch with native French speakers.
By connecting you with native speakers, Busuu allows you to receive feedback and practice real-time conversation.
Busuu may lack entertainment value, but it certainly makes up for it in speaking practice and cultural tips.
Read our full review of Busuu here.
6. Best Entertainment: Frantastique
Summary: Frantastique sends you daily immersive lessons tailored to your level, but the cost and sink-or-swim approach may deter some.
The Frantastique program sends daily emails containing an entertaining immersive French lesson with a corresponding exercise, which takes around 15 minutes to complete.
The exercises, based on grammar and vocabulary, are revised by Artificial Intelligence which feeds back your score and also provides you with explanations. With these results, Frantastique can then tailor lessons to your progress.
The program could definitely improve in the price department: with a limit on the number of lessons per week, the monthly payments (even the lowest tier) may not be worth it for some learners.
Read our full review of Frantastique here.
7. Best Podcast-Based: Coffee Break French
Summary: The short but effective lessons in this audio course are both comprehensive and entertaining—they’re also completely free.
Coffee Break French is a podcast-based French course, broken down into digestible 5 to 20 minute episodes.
While listening and speaking seem to be the main focus, the award-winning resource also offers a comprehensive look into grammar, vocabulary and other parts of the French language.
I also found it highly enjoyable to listen to! Mark, the founder of Coffee Break Languages, is an entertaining Scottish guy who presents in a relaxed way.
There are four seasons available that correspond to different levels, and they can be found for free on iTunes and Spotify. If you’d like access to scripts, lesson notes and exercises from the Reading Club, you’ll need to switch to premium.
8. Best University Courses: Athabasca University
Summary: If you don’t mind the university price tag, these interactive university courses come with different learning tools to practice various French skills.
Athabasca University is a primarily online university in Alberta, Canada that offers nearly 20 courses in French.
Most courses include online interactive classes complete with lessons, exercises and quizzes as well as audio and speaking components. Furthermore, the courses offer students interaction with the professor and other students.
Athabasca’s advanced courses may be a little less interactive, but they focus on material that you might not find in other online French courses.
Best of all, if interested, students can continue to take courses at Athabasca in order to complete an actual degree in the French language.
9. Best Story-Based Learning: The French Experiment
Summary: This website teaches various elements of French through stories, each of which comes with authentic audio and dual transcriptions.
The French Experiment was created by Aletta, who dedicated herself to teaching languages with fun cartoons after a soul-destroying job in marketing.
This website uses stunning hand-crafted images and authentic audio to teach French through stories online—all completely for free.
This website’s story collection features classic stories that come with corresponding audio, French transcriptions and English translations.
In addition to these stories, there are also 15 free French lessons covering beginner topics. Lesson topics include numbers, negatives and possessions, and these lessons also include slow, clear audio for the French words and phrases.
I’d recommend this one for those who are looking to learn French in a more laid-back way.
10. Best Accredited: Alliance Française Toronto (Toronto French Alliance)
Summary: If budget isn’t a constraint, these French courses are able to get you all the way to fluency and even prepare you for DELF and DALF exams.
The Alliance Française is an international organization that promotes the French language and cultures around the world.
They have many local divisions and many offer French courses for all levels of French.
Since the Alliance Française is such a well-known organization, its courses are recognized and accredited by the French Ministry for National Education. This allows the Alliance Française to offer courses that adequately prepare students to take the DELF and DALF exams.
Lucky for you, you can take online courses from this highly reputable organization through their Toronto branch. The courses can be done completely remotely, have offers for all levels and even allow you to focus on specialized topics.
While this course may be a little bit more intensive, it’s a fantastic option for those that are really dedicated to their learning journey.
11. Best for Canadian French: Francolab (French Lab)
Summary: This is a free video-based course that focuses on Québec French and is best for high-level beginners and up.
Francolab is an initiative created by TV5 Québec (a television station in Québec, Canada). As such, the language used in the materials is Canadian (Québecois) French.
Francolab has various free courses and activities available for upper-level learners. Each course is based on a different video or video course.
The courses have five to eight medium-length videos which revolve around a wide variety of topics. Each lesson comes with teaching notes that include grammar and vocabulary explanations as well as quizzes.
Keep in mind that these videos are completely in French, so it is recommended to have at least a high beginner level in the language.
12. Best Immersion-Based: Berlitz
Summary: Berlitz is a highly customizable and flexible course that offers well-rounded material for all levels, but does come at a high cost.
Berlitz offers a variety of classes including one-on-one classes, group classes and even options for government employees or corporations.
The Berlitz method is based entirely on immersion, so your classes will be entirely in French. You will learn a wide range of materials that are available for every level.
While I do think the method is effective, it’s a bit of a risk as you don’t have access to a free trial and the courses can be rather expensive.
Additionally, the shared classes have received mixed reviews so I’d suggest investing in private lessons.
Summary: This program has a huge selection of downloadable audio for all levels which comes with grammar and vocabulary notes.
FrenchClasses offers three online courses for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Just keep in mind that the whole website is in French, so you might want to get a foundation in the basics first.
The courses at FrenchClasses are primarily based around lessons that feature an audio conversation. Each audio conversation revolves around a particular topic pertinent to French learners.
The grammar and vocabulary notes and online exercises reinforce the concepts introduced in the lesson.
While I enjoy that FrenchClasses includes all levels and uses audio, I wish that they would include exercises to build other skills such as reading and writing.
Summary: Babbel is a practical course focused on everyday scenarios best for beginner and intermediate learners.
Babbel is probably one of the most well-known and widely-used online language-learning platforms worldwide. Babbel offers courses for beginners and intermediates, but there is no option for advanced learners.
Babbel does a great job focusing on advancing a certain language skill. There are specific lessons and exercises for listening, speaking, grammar and idioms.
In terms of the structure of Babbel’s lessons, the specific layout varies for each course, but most courses feature a dialogue with audio coupled with grammatical and vocabulary-building opportunities. Babbel’s lessons are followed by exercises to reinforce learned concepts.
Overall, Babbel is great to get you started learning French, but expect to have to find something else once you reach a higher level.
Read our full Babbel review.
15. Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Mellon University
Summary: These university courses for beginners are based on authentic videos and include exercises and a final exam.
The Open Learning Initiative offers two courses for beginners in the French language called Elementary French I and Elementary French II.
For these courses, the Open Learning Initiative combines standard online courses with multimedia interactivity.
Lessons in both courses revolve around real-world videos shot in French-speaking regions like Quebec and France. The courses take you through basic skills such as introducing yourself and food, as well as French grammar.
These topics get more and more advanced as you get further into the courses. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to enter an intermediate online course or follow an intermediate French self-study program.
Summary: Alison offers free French courses starting at the beginner stage and offering a few options for more advanced learners.
The French for Beginners course has three modules for students to begin their French adventure. For more advanced learners, Alison offers Improving Your French Language Skills and even a Diploma in French Language Studies to prove your competency in basic French.
For each course, each module includes a video dealing with a specific topic. Afterward, the video leads to the exploration of a particular set of vocabulary or grammar explanations. Such grammar topics include the present, past and future tense in basic courses.
The online French lessons offered on Alison are fairly academic in nature. Each module includes an assessment, and learners need an 80% in all assessments to pass the course.
While I enjoy the structure of Alison’s courses, don’t expect much entertainment since they are so academic.
17. Learn French Online for Free
Summary: This course is based on the Foreign Service Institute’s audio course and provides a good base of the language if you don’t mind the simple interface.
Learn French Online for Free offers two courses for beginners that learners can follow chronologically to get a good basis in the French language.
Each course includes 12 lessons, and there are two tests per course for learners to test their understanding.
Lesson topics include the city, hotels and food, and there are in-depth explanations for all lessons explaining crucial grammatical information. Each lesson also has extensive practice drills based on the taught vocabulary and grammar.
Given that this was designed by the US government for diplomats and military personnel, I think the content of this course is great; however, I think it’s only sufficient for beginners and won’t do much to advance your knowledge beyond that level.
Summary: Loecsen courses are based on interactive audio flashcards that include translation, audio and visuals.
There are 17 “themes” (lessons) that contain a certain amount of vocabulary words and sentences related to the lesson topics.
Topics include transportation, feelings and family. Each flashcard contains one of these words or phrases with an English translation, a French audio recording and a helpful visual.
After reviewing the flashcards, learners can take the lesson quiz to solidify understanding.
Each lesson also includes a “read aloud” activity of real French audio or writing such as a song or a poem. After listening to each line, learners are prompted to record their own audio to practice pronunciation.
19. Language Transfer French
Summary: Language Transfer is a great audio-based introduction for beginners. And it’s free!
Language Transfer offers a pretty unique way to learn French. For starters, the course is completely auditory, so there are no written materials. Instead, you listen along to the host and the student, participating in the lesson yourself.
By the end of the lesson, the learner is surprised to uncover that all the pieces introduced during the lesson are part of a larger puzzle, and the host has bypassed a lot of the unnecessary extras in order to help the learner communicate quickly and easily in French.
Language Transfer uses the “Thinking Method” to teach learners how to learn French so they can self-study after they complete the course.
I like this unique way of teaching, but I do think learners should also follow more traditional methods as a supplement so they can grasp some of the technicalities of French.
20. Lingoni French
Summary: Lingoni French is a full-service Youtube French course that is free with the option to buy supporting add-ons.
These videos are also sorted into playlists. Lingoni French offers multiple playlists for learners from the A1 (complete beginner) to the B2 (high intermediate) level.
They also offer playlists based on different learning skills such as listening.
While the videos on YouTube are free, the real value in Lingoni French comes from their paid course add-ons.
On the Lingoni French website, paying subscribers can access worksheets and exercises for grammar and vocabulary practice, podcasts, listening comprehensions and additional video content to enhance their French.
Summary: This is a podcast-based online course available for all levels that gives great listening practice but not much else.
Not only does this course include hundreds of audio lessons, but teaching tools that only enhance your learning.
Some of these tools include transcripts, pronunciation practice, quizzes and flashcards.
Note that you do have to pay for a membership, but there is a free trial available.
While this program can be great for listening practice, I’d suggest that you use this more as a supplemental course and look elsewhere for speaking, reading and writing practice.
Check out our full FrenchPod101 review.
What Do I Need in a French Online Course?
Regardless of level, you want a French course that’s about equal parts vocabulary and grammar. Make sure your online French course teaches you useful vocabulary while also giving you in-depth (yet easy-to-understand) grammar explanations.
Furthermore, good online French courses should have ample exercises and activities built-in so that students get a chance to practice the material they’ve been taught in the course.
Ideally, an online course should have features that allow you to grow in the four language learning areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Should I Take a French Online Course?
If you’re learning French, you’ll most likely benefit from an online course! However, there are a few things to consider.
For example, some people tend to work better in a structured classroom, while others may thrive doing their own thing and flitting between different resources.
The majority of people will find that French online courses are super helpful: they provide direction, support and motivation to varying degrees.
There are many different kinds of courses adapted to different styles of learning (and reasons for learning!), so you’re bound to find something appropriate for you.
How Much Would a French Online Course Cost?
There are many high-quality courses that are absolutely free, which we’ve seen in this post—and by the same token, there are lots of high-quality courses that you really need to dig into your bank account for!
Often the course cost comes down to its content, so the more comprehensive (or specialized) the course, the more you might pay for it. Intensive courses and courses with lots of tutor support will be on the pricier end of the scale, while older and more superficial courses are usually on the cheaper end.
With these courses, you can basically attend a French class without leaving your home, but how much that class resembles a traditional one is entirely up to you.
So click away, and say hello to the best French courses that the internet has to offer!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)