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In order to know which type of French instruction would work well for you, ask yourself this question: "Why do I want to learn French?" For some, learning French is a requirement for school or work. In that case, choosing a provider of French lessons that will deliver the necessary vocabulary and grammar, reading and writing skills, and even pronunciation will be important.
You may want French lessons that will help you be a better-educated traveler. If you frequently visit any one of the 29 countries where French is spoken as an official language - not just France and Canada but also Switzerland, Haiti, Togo, and Madagascar, to name a few - being able to speak French fluently could make a huge difference. And, who wouldn't want to be able to confidently order coffee and a croissant in a Paris cafe?
Tuesday, January 25th
Rocket Languages French lessons can help you speak and understand the language quickly and accurately, in a way that keeps you interested and motivated. The company offers a free one-week trial of all three levels of French they offer, so you can put their platform to the test and see how well it works for you. Of course, if you'd rather not enter your email address and create an account, you can also browse through the sample lessons that you'll find on the main page. Just scroll down to the section that starts with "#1: Not having enough time to learn" and you'll see audio samples, a 17-minute interactive audio lesson, and more.
If you decide to try the free trial, you'll see a Get Started menu that will walk you through everything Rocket Languages offers in their French lessons. We particularly like their My Progress section: if you are motivated by seeing your points increase, maintaining a daily study streak, or hitting #1 on the leaderboard, this is the program for you!
And, if developing a near-native French accent is important to you, make sure to look at the Rocket Record Difficulty settings; you can choose from easy, medium and hard, and Rocket's language detection algorithm will evaluate your spoken French against the standard that you select.
You'll find two main components to Rocket Language's French lessons:
When you finish all of the Audio and Language/Culture lessons within a module, you can take a certification evaluation. If you pass, Rocket Languages will issue you a certificate of achievement. This is useful if you need to prove that you've taken French lessons, such as for purposes of documenting a homeschooler's coursework or getting continuing education credits for an employer.
For students who feel that their working knowledge of French is already pretty solid, Rocket offers an additional program called "French Travelogue". For $149.95, you'll get access to lessons that follow the same general format of Levels 1-3, but include much more advanced content, including dialogues and stories.
One of the most compelling reasons to use Rocket Languages for your French lessons is the one-time fee. Whether you buy the Travelogue series, Level 1 for $99.95, Levels 1 and 2 for $249.90, or Levels 1 through 3 for $259.90, you get lifetime access to the coursework - including all future updates. That's a big advantage over subscription-based French lessons that will require you to keep paying every month if you want to continue working on the language; if you stop your subscription, you often lose your progress tracking, too.
This lifetime access includes Rocket's online forum. If you have a question about learning French, need help with a particular topic, or just want to connect with other students, you'll find it here.
Finally, one of our favorite features can be found in the My Tools section, under the heading My Advanced Learning. Here, you'll get detailed tips and tricks for effective language learning, especially if you don't have a ton of time to spend on your French lessons on a daily basis. Topics include "What Kind of Learner Are You", "The 5-Step Language Learning Plan", and "Want to Become a More Confident French Speaker?" among many others.
Rocket Languages is so confident that their program works, they back it with a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy for any reason, just contact the company within that time period and they will give you a full refund.
When it comes to French lessons, Rocket Languages sets the standard for a fun, affordable approach to learning that can move as quickly or as leisurely as you want. If you're looking for a well-rounded program that puts all of the tools you need at your fingertips, Rocket French should be your first choice, and they earn our highest rating.
Rosetta Stone is famous for language instruction. In the past, their programs were only available as CD-ROMs used on PCs or Macs; but, like most language companies today, Rosetta Stone has moved to an all-online platform, easily used on your laptop or mobile device.
Another piece of good news: Rosetta Stone's French lessons are now much more affordable than they used to be. Instead of having to buy individual levels at a pretty steep cost, now you can pay for a subscription plan that lets you access whatever level of French you need.
To access the French lessons offered by Rosetta Stone, you should expect to pay $79 for a 3-month plan, $119 for a 6-month plan, $197 for a year-long plan, and the best value is $249 for a 2-year plan. At the time of our most recent review, there was an excellent promotion that offered a one-year subscription for just $95.88 and a two-year plan for $143.76: bringing the average monthly price down to $7.99 and $5.99, respectively. You can also opt into Rosetta Stone's Easy Payment plans, which break down the cost of any $99+ package into three smaller payments, with no interest charges. Just select Easy Payment at the time you place your order.
One of the most novel aspects of learning French with Rosetta Stone is their immersion-based approach. They believe that the best way to learn a language is the way children do: naturally, without translations, through context clues and repetition. You'll be taught various words and phrases sequentially, by associating words with pictures and then incorporating the rest of a sentence or idea. We strongly recommend that you try the free demo video and brief interactive sample lesson to see for yourself: some students love this nothing-but-French approach, but others may feel frustrated at not being told exactly what a phrase means or not getting much instruction/explanation in English.
Rosetta Stone also has an excellent speech detection engine, TruAccent, and speaking activities in each lesson, to help you get your accent as close to native as possible. That speech engine also allows you to read entire stories aloud in French and then compare how you did. Want to kick it up another notch? You can schedule sessions with live tutors who will work with you exclusively in French and help you apply everything you've been learning.
You can also download audio lessons that are available offline, making it easy to continue your French lessons anywhere. Another helpful tool is the Rosetta Stone Phrasebook. If you're traveling and just need some quick advice for how to talk about time, money, ordering in a restaurant, and so on, you've got easy access to exactly what to say.
So, how long will it take you to learn French? Rosetta Stone estimates that it will take about 40-50 hours to complete each level of the language, and individual lessons range from 5-30 minutes, depending on what each lesson involves.
Rosetta Stone offers a 30-day, no-risk, money-back guarantee on their French lessons.
We love how Rosetta Stone continues to adapt to be one of the most effective language training programs on the market, and that their pricing is now much more competitive with other providers of French lessons. Rosetta Stone is a great fit for people who want to learn the language naturally in an immersion format.
Transparent Language has made huge changes since our last review. In the past, their French lessons were only available via outdated CDs and MP3 audio files - not very exciting. Now, however, their language learning platform is completely online and accessible from both computers and mobile devices equally.
In order to try Transparent's French lessons - or any other language's - you'll need to sign up for a free 14-day trial. Enter your age range and what your learning focus is (homeschooling, personal interest, etc.) and you'll get access once you create a username and click on the link in the activation email you receive. This gives you access to Transparent's complete library of language instruction, not just for French but for everything they offer: literally from A(frikaans) to Z(ulu). Transparent's French lessons are unique in that you can choose between French and Canadian French.
Once you've chosen which type of French you'd like to learn, you'll be taken to your main learning dashboard, which shows you the available learning paths, how much vocabulary you've learned, and many different ways to practice (e.g. Preview It, Recognize & Say It, Produce & Write It, etc.). There's a great series of orientation pop-ups that will walk you through those site features.
How you proceed through Transparent's French lessons is completely up to you. If you prefer a step-by-step, sequential learning path, start with the Welcome lesson and proceed through all of the lessons in Unit 1: Hello! You can reorganize the order of the lessons as desired, or click on the three dots to mark any particular lesson as learned or remove it from your Learning Path altogether. Transparent has a total of 40 French lessons across 8 units. They don't specify which levels of language learning are included, but in our estimation we'd say that the content ranges from beginner to intermediate.
Just working through some of the beginning French lessons, we really liked how well-rounded the Transparent approach is. We were reading, typing, listening to and speaking French using our computer's microphone all within the first few minutes.
Be sure to check out the links at the top of the site too. Under Resources, you'll find a link to a French proficiency test, blogs related to learning French, Transparent's Word of the Day, and more. You can also browse specific vocabulary categories like Business and Medical, take a class focused on the French alphabet, and so on. Finally, you'll discover the Kidspeak tab: if you have younger learners in your home, they might enjoy playing the games there.
We love that Transparent's courses are completely mobile-friendly through their Android and iOs apps. They can be downloaded for free; sign in using your username and the password you'll find on the computer version under "Go Mobile" at the top of the site, or scan the QR code shown there.
If you're looking for a competitively-priced program for learning French and you're relatively new to the language, Transparent Language is a great choice.
Pimsleur used to be known for its audio-only approach to learning French. While that was an effective approach for some students, many people wanted a more well-rounded set of French lessons. Pimsleur took note, and since our last review they've debuted an excellent platform that incorporates their proven-to-work audio lessons with an interactive online course that can be easily accessed from laptops and mobile devices alike.
Pimsleur's audio-only courses used to be extremely expensive, putting their French lessons out of reach for many interested students at a whopping $1190 for CDs covering all 5 levels of instruction. While those CD sets are still available, most people are opting for the newest program that includes all of the audio instruction plus the online platform for a one-time fee of $575. While that may still be a little spendy for some, keep in mind that many providers of French lessons charge monthly subscription fees that can easily equal that cost or more over the course of a few years. Also, if you're not in a position to lay out that much cash at a time, you can also purchase individual levels for $150. Finally, Pimsleur offers FlexiPay payment plans, dividing the cost into three equal monthly payments at no extra charge for those who qualify. You'll find the details of FlexiPay underneath the blue Add to Cart buttons.
Helpful tip: look for a pop-up as you spend some time browsing the site, or when you go to click the X button to close the browser. We got an offer for up to 30% off our purchase.
Want to give Pimsleur's French lessons a try? You'll need to enter your first name, email address, country, and reason for learning the language after clicking on the Try a Free Lesson button. You'll then get access to a free 30-minute audio lesson; be sure to give it a try when you're in an environment where you can speak out loud, because that's a big component of the Pimsleur method (mimicking the spoken French aloud). Through the lesson, you'll see exactly how Pimsleur's French lessons teach vocabulary always within the context of a conversation or other verbal exchange, and that everything you'll learn is built upon what you already know. You'll also hear deliberate pauses in the audio, allowing you the chance to come up with the correct response and insert it into the "conversation" as if you were a part of it.
We were disappointed that the free trial doesn't give prospective customers access to any version of their online platform. All you get is what's on the main site: four stacked images showing what the platform/app looks like, nothing about its features, format, or structure. For students who specifically want more than just audio lessons, they'll have no idea what they're getting until they pay for access.
On a positive note, Pimsleur has greatly improved the customer friendliness of their satisfaction guarantee. You'll have 30 days from the purchase date of their program to give it a try; Pimsleur will refund 100% of your fees if you don't like it for any reason. Because it's a digitally-licensed product, you should expect an extra step of filling out a declaration form that Pimsleur will provide, in order to affirm that you haven't made any copies of their products or given access to anyone else.
Because Pimsleur's audio method of teaching languages has been so successful, especially for people who prefer to learn by hearing, we continue to give their program high marks. But, now that they offer an online platform taking French lessons visually and not just auditorily, Pimsleur could be even more effective by letting prospective students see exactly what they're getting there too. We hope to see those changes in the future.
French Pod 101 is part of the Innovative Language family of language lessons, which started with Japanese Pod 101 in 2005 and has since grown to include Arabic, Russian, and more. More than one billion language lessons have been delivered by the Innovative Language Pod 101 platform!
Getting started with French Lessons through French Pod 101 is easy. When you create and confirm your free account, you'll be taken through a series of screens. The first will ask if you'd like to receive the French Pod 101 Word of the Day email series. Next, you'll be brought to the sales pitch. First, you'll be given a "limited, one-time only" offer that contains the following "Fast Track to French Fluency" package for the price of $1:
If you click the small "No Thanks" button, you'll still be taken to your main account page. There, you'll get pop-ups confirming your account creation, asking (again) if you'd like to subscribe to the Word of the Day, asking you to set your level of difficulty, and then assigning you to the appropriate level. You can change that lesson level at any time on your account page. And yes, just like the last time we reviewed French Pod 101, we then got another sales pitch: 7-day free trial that includes all of the Premium tools and the complete lesson library, and a savings of 10% if we chose a subscription plan that day.
French Pod 101's subscription plans include the following:
French Pod 101 continues to be a little bit sneaky when it comes to their pricing. The monthly fees listed above - and featured prominently throughout the site - are only valid if you pay for 24 months at a time. Your pricing increases dramatically if you only want to pay month-to-month or even 3 months at a time: Premium costs $25 on a monthly plan, and Premium PLUS is a whopping $47 on a monthly plan. While those fees aren't unreasonable when looking at comparable French lessons on the market, we don't like the fact that there's such a difference in how much you pay, and that don't tell customers upfront that the low prices only apply if you pay for two years of lessons in advance.
On a positive note, French Pod 101 comes with a 60-day, no hassle money-back guarantee. Their parent company, Innovative Language, has an "A" rating at the Better Business Bureau, so that's good reassurance that they will honor that satisfaction guarantee.
So, what about the actual French lessons at French Pod 101? There's a little bit of a choose-your-own-adventure feel when you look at your dashboard. You can follow the Pathway determined by your language level: that's probably the easiest choice. Where it starts to get a little wild is when you look at everything in the Newest Lessons column on the left side of the page, or even more so if you click on Add a Pathway. "Should I study the Top 10 Marriage Proposal Lines? Making a Suggestion in French? What about the 79 lessons included in the Absolute Beginner French for Every Day?" There's almost too much to choose from - but a fantastic variety for the easily bored. French Pod 101 adds new content every week, drawing on current events and hot topics - no outdated, out of the loop instruction here.
Even in the official recommended Pathway, the amount of instruction is extraordinary: in our Mastering Level 1 French, there were more than 200 lessons spanning almost 23 hours, including audio and video. The tests for comprehension aren't as broad as some of the French lessons we reviewed; French Pod 101 tends to use very basic multiple choice questions, and quizzes don't automatically come up as part of the lessons. You'll have to search it out and click on it, usually right above the notes and transcript sections of the lesson.
Because French Pod 101 does such a terrific job of incorporating new content plus audio and video on a regular basis, they are definitely worth looking at for your French lessons. In the future, however, we would like to see their sign-up process show less of a sales pitch and more transparency with their pricing, which would move them up in our rankings.
More than a million students have used Living Languages to learn a new language over the past 70 years. As a part of the Penguin Random House family of brands, Living Languages has an extensive course library, including commonly-studied languages like Spanish and German, to more "exotic" ones such as Swahili and Tagalog.
If you're looking for French lessons, Living Language offers two online courses: Comprehensive and Passport. Passport was created with travelers in mind and is designed to give you the vocabulary you'll need to navigate your way through most situations abroad. Example topics include ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions and getting around town, shopping, and asking for help in case of an emergency. You can opt for a 3-month individual package for $50, or include a travel companion or friend and get the course for $75 ($37.50 per person).
The Comprehensive package can be accessed on a monthly plan of $39, a 3-month plan for $50, a 6-month plan for $75, or a 1-year plan for $150. According to Living Languages, you'll have access to all 46 French lessons, from Beginner to Advanced, which include:
We recommend that you try Living Language's free French lesson: there's no need to provide an email address or create an account to use it. It starts with French Essential Lesson 1: Essential Expressions like "bonjour" and "salut" on a series of flash cards with native speaker pronunciations, and moves smoothly through a series of activities like fill-in-the-blank, grammar explanations, and more. Progress is tracked for you, but you also have the option of marking a particular lesson as "mastered". Another option is to turn off the photos in the lesson, so that you can see how much you remember without context clues.
Living Language still offers its older format of French lessons: published in 2010 and delivered via book and CD, known as Essential and Complete. You'll have to follow an external link from the Living Language site to purchase them, and with so many other interactive ways of learning French - including Living Language's current subscription-based format - you probably won't be overly impressed to buy the outdated format.
There may be opportunities for additional savings. At the time of our most recent review, there was a promotion offering 20% off all Living Languages' online courses if we signed up for their email newsletter.
What do learners have to say about learning French through Living Languages? Many people have commented about what the platform has dropped in the last year or two. For example, the company used to have a plan that included live e-Tutoring sessions: seminars with real-time instruction where students could interact with a native speaker on a topic, ask questions, and so on. That was discontinued in 2018. Also, Living Languages has discontinued the use of its mobile apps, in an era when most providers of French lessons are actually expanding to better include mobile use.
In short, there's nothing wrong with Living Language's French lessons - but there's nothing overly inspiring or motivational about them, either. They earn an average rating.
If you struggle to retain things you've tried to memorize, or if you have struggles with reading (e.g. dyslexia), Unforgettable Languages' Linkword might be the French lessons you need. Their system focuses heavily on using proven memory strategies and tricks to help you remember words in French through connections to English phrases and images.
For example, students are asked to vividly picture poking a horse with a shovel to remember that the French word for "horse" is "le cheval". We suggest that you start with the free demo, to see how the program works. In our experience, we found that we could still remember the vocabulary taught in the demo several days after trying it, but we also found ourselves struggling to remember the correct pronunciation. For example, "le lapin" is associated with a "rabbit lapping (at a bowl of water)", but the two words aren't pronounced the same way.
We also recommend you take a look at the comprehensive list of topics/vocabulary covered by each level of Unforgettable's Linkword program for French; we found that link under the "Why Choose Linkword" heading, at the end of the first green checkmark sentence. That will give you the most accurate picture of what you'd be learning, and whether or not the content is comprehensive enough to help you reach your goals for French. In total, Linkword teaches about 1200 words of vocabulary plus major points of grammar. According to the Unforgettable site, the average student of French only learns around 900 words over the course of four years of high school.
Linkword's French lessons can be purchased as a four-level package that includes software for Mac/PC, MP3 audio, and a course app for mobile use. This costs $32. If you would also like to have the CD version of the course in addition to the downloadable package, you'll pay a total of $48. We like that Unforgettable makes it possible to learn from almost anywhere, not just when sitting in front of a laptop.
Customers will appreciate that every course offered by Unforgettable comes with a 60-day unconditional money-back guarantee: double the length of time the company was offering at the time of our previous review. Plus, the price of their French lessons is 50% less than the last time we evaluated Linkword, another significant improvement.
Unforgettable's Linkword French lessons have moved up in our rankings since our last review, mostly due to their expanded satisfaction guarantee and lower prices. It isn't the most comprehensive way to learn French, however, and may be best suited for students who need to boost their retention of vocabulary or who have had trouble learning with other approaches.
LingQ (which is pronounced like the word "link") was created by Steve Kaufmann out of his personal experiences with learning languages. He believes that one's own motivation is the biggest key to learning French - and what could be more motivating than trying to make sense out of authentic examples of the language? This is the only program of French lessons in our review that encourages and even expects users to interact with real samples of the language, to upload their own examples (like song lyrics or social media posts), and to interact frequently with native speakers.
The good news is that it's free to try LingQ. You can create an account that lets you try 5 lessons and use 20 LingQs - words or phrases that you want to remember - with no need to subscribe. If you're thinking that 20 words doesn't sound like much, you're right! To really see how LingQ works, you'll need to choose between their two monthly subscription plans:
Unfortunately, at the time of our most recent review, the sample lesson video on the LingQ site wasn't working. Previously, we had watched the video and came away less than encouraged; we felt that there wasn't enough structure or research-based language strategy employed by the LingQ methodology.
But, there's a noteworthy number of people who have good things to say about their experience using LingQ. If you're interested and motivated by real-world use of French - maybe you have a group of friends from a French-speaking country or your travels regularly take you to one - you might benefit from LingQs structure that specifically targets authentic samples of the language.
For all of these reasons, LingQ continues to earn an average rating, and we still encourage potential users to create a free account and try out all of the available features before committing to a subscription plan for their French lessons.
The instructional levels offered by Strokes International include:
Each course can be purchased separately for $60. Or, you can buy the combined package for French 1 and 2 for $101, or all three levels for $141.
Because Strokes is focused on learners within the European Union, American customers should expect to pay at least $30 in shipping fees when selecting any products that aren't available via download. Fortunately, at the time of our review, all of Strokes International's French lessons were download-only.
In general, the Strokes approach uses spoken dialogue interactions with the computer, including a pronunciation trainer, "intuitive" grammar training, vocabulary games and flash cards, a dictionary and conjugation tables, and even the ability to export audio versions of the lessons in MP3 format for learning on the go.
Strokes lets you try a set of three lessons for free, which you will have to download to a computer (it's not available via mobile device or tablet). When we downloaded the trial, it took about two minutes to get it set up. Unfortunately, when we tried to use the system tour, the URL it used never loaded.
So, we went ahead and used the three-lesson sample without much guidance. We started at the very beginning of the French 1 program, and we were left confused. There were a lot of rotating carousels of pixelated images and stock photos with associated French vocabulary beneath them, some grammar pronoun matching with no explanations, and a halfway decent voice recognition module. When we tried to use the specific exercises for grammar, we were only able to see a preview: it's not included in the free trial.
Compared with other French lessons available, the Strokes International program feels very outdated, clunky to use, and not suited for American students. There's almost no user feedback, little customer support, and even the Strokes website has numerous typos and errors - which doesn't inspire much confidence that students will be able to learn and master French using the Strokes system. We recommend that you choose a more up-to-date provider of French lessons among the higher-ranked options in our review.
Finally, individuals with family trees that extend into French-speaking cultures may be interested in learning more about their heritage and connect with living relatives.
With so many options for studying the language independently, what should you look for in the ideal French lessons? Here are some aspects to consider as you evaluate the many programs currently on the market:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best French lessons available today. We hope these reviews will help you get on the path to fluency in French quickly and affordably!
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