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Wednesday, May 18th
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- including Living Language's current subscription-based format - you probably won't be overly impressed to buy the outdated format.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.
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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