Tired of being tied down to one spot during French study time?
Whether that spot’s a desk, an old couch or a classroom—you yearn for more freedom.
French language learners, we know your pain.
No matter when you started learning French, we all know that it isn’t the easiest thing to do.
It can be a rather emotional experience, deciding to take on a foreign language.
We’re undoubtedly excited and motivated about learning the language, but at the same time we’re plagued with self-doubt and uncertainty.
We ask ourselves, “Can I really do this? Can I really learn another language? Do I even have the memory capacity in my brain?”
The answer is, of course, yes!
When you decide to learn something new you’ll always have doubts, it’s human nature, but learning a language is something that anyone with the right attitude can achieve.
We’re lucky enough to live in societies where all the information we need is at our fingertips and our questions can be answered with the click of a button.
You can study French whenever and wherever you want: on the beach, in a comfy cafe, surrounded by friends, on a train while traveling or anywhere else that strikes your fancy.
The convenient nature of the internet means that if you want to learn a language, it’s really easy! You just need to find the right course for you, and we’re here to help you with that.
First and foremost, let’s look at 10 major reasons why you should use online lessons to learn French.
10 Great Reasons to Learn French with Online Lessons
1. When you’re learning online, the learning process becomes 100% portable.
You can learn French at home or on the move, which is the ideal solution for people with busy jobs and/or family lives. Learning online is the most convenient way to learn a language for people who don’t have time to go to lessons!
2. You have the opportunity to exchange knowledge with people abroad.
You can contact native French speakers in other countries either through language-oriented chatrooms or through Skype. This gives you the rare opportunity to talk to native speakers of the language, something which will help you improve immensely.
3. The learning process can be tailored to exactly what you’re looking to improve.
If speaking is what you’d like to work on, you can use Skype lessons with a native French speaker. If you would prefer to focus on reading, writing or listening you can focus on more traditional, scholastic lessons. You can even gear these lessons to your personal needs and interests, simply by choosing lessons that focus on a certain subject matter.
4. There are endless options to choose from.
There’s so much out there on the internet that you can find the lessons that suit you best and fulfill your needs!
5. It’s much more holistic than an ordinary lesson.
There are lots of images, videos and audio tools available to aid learning so it’s a much more interesting way to learn a language overall. Embrace multimedia!
6. It’s interactive.
Remember what it was like when you learned French (or any other subject) at school? You followed a textbook and did very little speaking, meaning that your learning experience was probably a little dull. Online lessons are the opposite. They’re centered around you. They’re interactive and fun, keeping you interested in learning the language and, most importantly, keeping you motivated!
7. It’s cheaper than going to a language school.
There are many great sites that offer free online courses. There are also some paid courses, but the prices—compared to going to private lessons at a school—are much lower. Plus, you don’t have extra expenses like travel and lost hours. In general, online lessons also allow you much more flexibility than the strict schedule of a language learning school.
8. You can set yourself goals within a certain time frame.
One of the best things about online lessons is being able to set yourself an objective with a time limit. You can choose different options based on how many times you can realistically practice the language per week. The website or application will either send you emails or notifications to remind you that you should be practicing on that day, a little nudge to encourage you to stay on track. It really helps, especially if you have a hectic work schedule!
9. Online lessons go back to basics.
Online lessons encourage people to learn a foreign language in the same way that they learned their native language, through repetition and increasing familiarity. The lessons don’t oblige you to read and translate large texts. They encourage you to repeat words over and over, spelling them and translating them by themselves and in phrases. Images are also used so that you begin to associate the words with pictures, making it all easier to remember! We learn our own languages like this, by repeating, repeating and repeating! Online lessons remind you that this is the best way to learn any language.
10. You can’t continue if you don’t pass!
You might be worried that online lessons are a little too flexible and forgiving. Well, last but not least, in most online courses, if you don’t get enough correct answers on quizzes and practice exercises you can’t continue on to the next lesson. You need to master one level before proceeding to the next, which is critical for real, lasting learning. This is a great tool for language learners, as you’re clearly told when you have work to do on a certain subject. Grammar is often the most difficult thing, so for tips on how to overcome this obstacle take a look at our article on learning French grammar.
All this means that your online classes will force you to revise the subjects you have difficulty with, for your own good.
So, now that I’ve convinced you to take up online lessons immediately, here’s a list of the top programs you can use to learn French.
Achieve French Learning Freedom with 9 Fantastic Online Resources for French Lessons
Babbel began in 2008 and now, just 7 years later, has over 15 million users in 190 countries worldwide.
It has everything you need to learn French, focusing on essential vocabulary first and teaching grammar as you go along.
It has a large number of lessons for people with different levels in French. There are beginner’s courses and intermediate courses (refresher to in-depth), with over 100 lessons available for beginners and over 90 for intermediate learners.
Babbel also has lessons on grammar, listening and speaking, reading and writing, countries and traditions, specials (abbreviations and numbers) and words and sentences. Babbel has thought of everything you might need when speaking French and, best of all, you can choose what YOU want to study. It’s also possible to review lessons that you’ve already done, making it easy to do revision and refresh your memory.
In terms of prices, Babbel is really reasonable. You have a number of lessons that are free in each category, but only the first lesson is free. After this first lesson, you’ll have to pay to download the other lessons.
It’s available both through its website and application form for mobiles or tablets, making it accessible anytime, anywhere!
Duolingo is one of the newer language learning devices on the market as it was launched in 2011 and is very different to the other learning platforms online.
It’s designed in such a way that users, as they progress, simultaneously help to translate websites and other documents. The lessons are made up of a variety of speaking, listening, translation and multiple choice exercises. You immediately see the answers when you give the right answer and when you don’t succeed at a challenge, Duolingo will show you how to improve.
It also has a point system (XP) making it fun and even addictive. You can earn points for correct answers, doing timed exercises and leveling up. Duolingo also keeps you on track by recording how many days in a row you spend learning a language and asking you to set up an objective when you first sign up. It will ask you to set an XP goal to help you stay motivated, the choices being:
Casual—10 XP per day
Regular—20 XP per day
Serious—30 XP per day
Insane—50 XP per day
You can create a profile to save your progress and Duolingo will send you daily reminders so that you don’t lose motivation! When you first begin you have two choices: to start at Basics 1 (for beginners) or to do a placement test to assess your level.
After having determined your level, you have a number of different categories that you can choose to learn grammar and vocabulary. The categories include things like: food, animals, phrases, possession, clothing, conjunctions, adverbs, household, etc. The best thing about Duolingo is that it’s totally FREE! You don’t have to pay for Duolingo and it’s available both through its site and its application!
FluentU is a language learning program that can help you easily and quickly learn the French language.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU provides you with a huge collection of authentic French videos—videos that native French speakers actually watch on the regular—that are so varied that there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone, regardless of skill level! Whatever you’re looking for, whether you love cartoons, wildlife documentaries, news features, blockbuster hits or pop music, FluentU has it.
Don’t worry about not being able to understand, either! All the videos include French and English subtitles which can be toggled on and off at will. Plus, definitions for any subtitled words are available simply by hovering your cursor over the word in question.
FluentU takes a step back from the traditional textbook approach and encourages you to learn the French language in a more natural way. In addition to providing videos, FluentU also offers downloadable audio dialogues and transcripts to use later when you’re offline. Plus, the program provides plenty of tools which can be used to actively practice your French vocabulary and grammar, like multimedia flashcards, running vocabulary lists and more.
FluentU’s learning program is totally free to use, although you may choose to upgrade to a better package for unlimited content (Basic is $8/month, and Plus is $18/month). Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
According to its website, Alison is the world’s leading provider of online free courses with certificates, with over 5 million users and over 600 courses.
Alison stands for Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online and was created in 2007 with the purpose of helping people to gain basic education and workplace skills. It has a large number of French courses which are free and which focus on basic language skills, grammar and vocabulary. Courses range between 6 and 10 hours with an assessment at the end and certification upon completion.
There are 6 modules for the French courses and you can speak to other students on the discussion forum. Alison is a great tool for anyone who wants a very structured, educational way of learning the French language.
Alison certificates cost between $15 USD and $100 USD depending on the course you take, or you can download the PDF of your certificate free of charge! It can be accessed through its website but isn’t available in app form yet.
Busuu is the world’s largest social network for language learning. Communicate and practice your language skills with an international community of over 50 million native speakers!
The method is proven by language experts and teachers and it uses the CEFR levels (A1, A2, B1 and B2) for its courses. The courses consist of speaking exercises, writing assignments and multiple choice questions. Sometimes the multiple choice questions are spoken and users speak to each other via chat-window or an audio or webcam connection.
You can use it for free as an ordinary member or upgrade to premium to have many more options and things to use! The prices are very similar to Babbel if you pay per month and, like Babbel, the price is reduced depending on how long your subscription lasts.
The Busuu basic version is free indefinitely and offers 20 learning units. Busuu also offers various upgrades and packages ranging from $17.99 USD per month to $152.99 USD every two years. Full standard price package rates are $22.49 USD every month to $539.99 USD every two years. Busuu is available through its website or app.
Frantastique’s French lessons, which have been featured in none other than the famous French newspaper Le Monde, are used by nearly 2 million people around the world.
The lessons are emailed to you daily with a variety of exercises, dialogues and texts which take around only 10 minutes per day to complete. This is a big advantage to following the courses as even the busiest of people can set aside 10 minutes per day to do a short lesson.
Something I really like about the lessons is that you receive feedback on your work. After you’ve completed and submitted your exercises you’ll receive your score with a personalized explanation, making it so simple to learn from your mistakes! The lessons are also very clever. They learn to focus on things you have difficulty with and memorize the topics you’ve chosen. You can test the method for the first 7 days, but after the free trial period is over you’ll have to choose which course you’d like: basic or premium.
Basic can cost as low as $24 per month depending on how long you’re willing to commit to the lessons.
Premium can cost as low as $36 per month.
It’s a great method that really works!
The best thing about Verbal Planet is that it’s different to any other method on the web.
It’s extremely flexible and there are so many language teachers available that you’ll be spoiled for choice! You can choose your teacher, the time of your lessons, how many lessons you have and how much you pay. Tutors charge different amounts, so you can find the lessons that suit your budget. This means that everyone has the opportunity to learn.
You can track your progress and have your lessons planned specifically for your individual needs. Verbal Planet isn’t free, but a free trial lesson is available with a number of tutors. After that, prices range between $10-$30 per 45 minute lesson. Verbal planet isn’t available in app form but the website is very easy to use.
Available in app form only, this quirky method of learning French focuses on giving you a phrasebook to learn commonly used French phrases and vocabulary. The categories for vocabulary include greetings, eating, health, hobbies, travel, directions, weather, the time and many, many more! The phrasebook has everything you need and more. You can also record and listen to yourself to practice your pronunciation, another thing that the application will help you with.
This application is free of charge and great for beginners!
Wordpower is another phrasebook-based learning method that’s only available in application form.
It’s free of charge and offers over 100 French words to use in daily life, as well as sample sentences and free audio lessons. It also offers a word of the day to help you learn a new word every day!
Two things I really like about this app: (1) you can track your progress with the progress bar and (2) you can save difficult words in your personalized word bank. It’s a simple, easy-to-use and effective app, perfect if you want to brush up on your French or take your first steps.
So, there you have it! 9 great French learning programs, each with its own unique benefits. Mix and match, or pick the perfect learning program for you which offers the complete package.
The important thing is really that you get started!
Now that you know what’s out there, you haven’t got any more excuses!
Start learning French today.
Chloe Martin is the head of an American language school in Paris with over 6 years of teaching experience. She has lived in Paris for the last 5 years and continuously strives to improve the quality of English teaching in France. She is from the South West of England and loves reading, writing and drinking tea!