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Monday, January 17th
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.
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?
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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