We’ve all been there.
All language learners are familiar with that moment when your motivation completely deflates.
But with interesting podcasts, great online tutoring websites, zingy songs and an abundance of other resources, it’s also easy to get back into the rhythm of learning French. Despite these options, however, some people are apprehensive about learning a new language because they feel they simply don’t have the time.
Thankfully, there are several no-hassle online courses that are perfect for your commute (if you’re not driving, of course) or those moments when you’re procrastinating at work…I mean, you have a few minutes to spare.
Best of all, these courses don’t require twelve easy payments of $99.99! Here are some French online courses that you can access offline, and will help you move one or several steps closer to that C2 level.
Common Misconceptions About Online Courses
- Many people think online courses aren’t interactive and they’ll never learn anything. However, this isn’t the case anymore because many companies and organizations that offer online courses understand clients’ desire for interactivity, and many now offer correctable exercises, tutors and other tools that promote engagement.
- There’s some apprehension about the customization of online courses, as some students worry that the lessons can’t be adapted to their unique challenges. However, many courses now include a proficiency test and other mechanisms to address the specific problems their students encounter.
- When I first started taking French classes, I quickly learned that there’s a major difference between everyday and academic French. Before knowing about common expressions and jargon, I spoke like a computer. Online courses have targeted this issue by focusing on conversational skills and natural communication, so you won’t have to worry about sounding like the latest software update.
5 Awesome French Online Courses Perfect for Your Commute
FluentU is perfect for commuting because, in addition to the website option, it’s available as an app for iOS. Even if you’re on the bus and don’t want to use your data, subscribers of the Plus Plan can access audio dialogues, quiz mode and PDFs while offline.
FluentU’s courses consist of real-world videos that are appropriate for your skill level, and the videos are captioned so you can see the translations, contextualized explanations and multimedia flashcards for the words.
The flashcards are particularly effective for those fleeting moments when you still want to feel like you’re productive and ready to give a TED Talk, because their content is related to the videos you’ve selected and covers a broad array of topics, from example sentences to pronunciation.
A major advantage of watching different videos, such as comedies and news reports, is that you get a sense of the “flavor” of French culture, which is oh so sweet. Moreover, you can personalize the experience by creating playlists and vocabulary lists.
In Learn Mode, you can test what you’ve learned in each course by answering questions related to the videos you’ve watched, and a progress tracker is included to–you guessed it–track your progress.
If you love watching videos as much as Guy Fieri loves sunglasses, FluentU is the perfect option.
Busuu will definitely be keeping you “busyy.” Available on iOS and Android devices, the free version of Busuu uses flashcards to quickly teach you a language during sparse moments.
With a paid premium membership, you can access the flashcards and other useful features, such as quizzes, conversations with native speakers and vocabulary training. If you’re nervous about talking, you can also submit your writing and get it corrected by native speakers who are also using the app. Even better, you can download each course when offline so you don’t have to use your data while commuting.
In the event that you want to apply what you’ve learned in the courses, the app also offers tests that allow you to earn certifications. The tests range from beginner (A1) to upper-intermediate (B2) according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
If you want to get your kids into language-learning, Busuu also has an app for children between the ages of four and seven, so you and your kids can learn French together.
As the name would suggest, Frantastique is fantastic. It consists of an e-mail that’s sent each weekday and contains a fun video or cartoon starring Victor Hugo. Once the course is complete, you answer a fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice grammar and vocabulary exercise, which is then submitted for revision.
The corrections are administered by an AI (artificial intelligence), a machine that provides your score and an explanation for each question. Most interestingly, this AI is configured to detect which areas you need the most help with and will subsequently tailor your lessons to target these specific issues.
Once the lesson is over, you receive the “Dessert of the Day” (unfortunately not a crepe), which is a sample of a book or movie related to the lesson. At the end of the overall course, you receive a certificate of completion that details your progress.
If you’re apprehensive about accessing your e-mail while on the bus or train, you could simply watch the lesson beforehand, then take a screenshot of the questions and complete them during your commute. Each course, from the lesson to the exercises, only takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, so you’ll have plenty of time to finish a lesson before leaving. You won’t even need to use your computer, because Frantastique is offered as an app.
This website provides a good balance of listening and reading practice, as its courses consist of podcasts and corresponding scripts that are also translated to English. The podcasts cover a wide range of topics, from the Paris Conference on Climate to choosing a holiday home, so you won’t have to listen to fascinating debates about the prevalence of subjunctive verbs in rural France.
The podcasts and scripts are also downloadable directly from the website (and you can access the podcasts through iTunes), so you can simply download them before leaving and open them once you’re on the bus, train, plane, boat or whichever medium you use to get to work.
To ensure that interactivity is part of the course, Native French Speech also allows you to submit your writing for correction. The website also includes various types of exercises for all levels and, if you want to practice while not commuting or you’re brave enough to Skype in public, you can have conversations via Skype with a tutor, who can even meet face-to-face if you ever visit Paris.
Rocket French uses interactive audio lessons that are approximately 25 minutes and familiarize you with conversations you’ll likely have abroad. The lessons are in both English and French, and they prompt you to respond to the tutors’ questions. Furthermore, a corresponding transcript and a list of key words are provided in case you want to follow along.
Beyond these conversations, Rocket French offers French culture courses, as well as English explanations about the actual sentence structure of French and how it differs from English.
These courses comprise the core of your learning, but Rocket French also comes with several nice add-ons, including flashcards, progress tracking, various tests based on algorithms that detect your biggest weaknesses, customizable vocab lists and phrase finders that allow you to find words or phrases in different contexts.
Moreover, these features are all available among Rocket French’s three levels, which go from beginner to intermediate, two different beginner to advanced levels (one delves deeper than the other).
If you’re using Android, you can download the courses onto your phone directly from the website, however, on iOS, you’ll need to first download them onto your computer and transfer them to your phone.
And there we have it, folks, a list of five awesome French online courses that can make your commute more colorful. No more staring out a bus window and looking at a highway and no more small talk with the person who sits next to you on Tuesdays.
Also, no more time wasted on fantasizing that you’re on your way to Paris instead of work, because if you take these courses during your commute, you’ll be on your way to making your fantasy a reality.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.