Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Living Language Review

Wednesday, May 18th

2022 French Lesson Reviews

Living Language Review 3 Star Rating

Living Language

3 Star Rating
  • Cost: Subscription prices range from $39/month to $150/year

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:

  • Theme-based lessons with hundreds of flashcards, practice exercises, and examples of grammatical structures
  • Native speaker examples of specific words, phrases, sentences, and complete dialogues
  • Skills like greeting others, describing things and people, asking and answering questions, conjugating verbs in present/past/future, learning idiomatic expressions
  • Games and puzzles to help with recall and retention

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.

Best French Lessons

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.

Who Offers the Best French Lessons?

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?

The Best French Lessons Compare French Lessons Compare French Lesson Reviews What are the best French Lessons Best French Lesson Reviews

French Lesson FAQ

That can be a tricky question! It's estimated that there are about 76 million people who speak French fluently as their first language. But, there are another 235 million individuals that use French daily and fluently without it being their native tongue, plus up to 110 million who use it as a second language with varying levels of proficiency. Beyond France itself, you'll find speakers throughout Africa, India, the Caribbean, and Canada.
There are many different French dialects, depending on where it's spoken, but for the most part they're all mutually understandable. If you learned French from a Parisian and then traveled to Montreal, you would still be able to use the language without much of a problem - though you might need to pick up new vocabulary and train your ear to hear it a little differently. It's similar to the regional accents you'll find within the US - think of how English is spoken in New York vs. Texas, for example - or how English differs depending on whether you're in Canada, England, or Australia.
According to the US State Department, French is a Category I language. That means that French is closely related to English, making it easy to learn! (Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Romanian are some of the other languages in that category.) Most students of French find the language to be somewhat familiar, which makes it more comfortable to study and to retain the vocabulary.
Start by learning some basic vocabulary. If you've got plans to use French in a specific context, like an upcoming vacation or a business meeting, choose some words and phrases that you'll need there. And, as with any language, the more you can expose yourself to the way it's used by native speakers, the more you'll pick up without even trying. Many students swear by watching TV shows and movies in French (with or without subtitles)!
You won't find a way to learn French that's more convenient or affordable, that's why! While French is one of the most commonly-taught languages in American schools, it can still be hard to find a class that fits your busy schedule. Even if you can find one that works, you may pay a lot of money for a semester of coursework; for that same investment, you could access years of online French lessons.
One reason French is easier to learn than some languages is because it uses the same alphabet is English - mostly. There are a few different characters that you'll need to know how to produce. Fortunately, they're not hard to make: on a smartphone, you can usually hold down the base letter (like c, e, or a) and accented options will pop up. On a desktop pc, there are shortcuts you can use when typing.
Not at all. You could pay under $300 for three levels of French coursework, or study as long as you like on a subscription plan that ranges from $4 to $23 per month. That's much more affordable than in-person lessons!
Each language platform has different policies regarding satisfaction guarantees and refunds. For subscription-based French lessons, you can probably cancel future payments but might not get your money back for what you've already spent. If you've paid a one-time fee for a language program, there may be a 30- to 60-day refund period. We recommend utilizing any trial options offered by a French lessons program before committing to it: you can usually find sample lessons or a one-week all-access pass, and that will help you get a feel for how the platform teaches French.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

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:

  • Teaching Methods. How does the program approach teaching language? Will you find a good variety of methods, like videos and written instruction, or do the French lessons mostly focus on one modality like listening or reading? Is it a good fit for your ideal learning style?
  • Fluency Level. How much French is covered by the program? Can you get beginner, intermediate, and advanced instruction as you progress through the French lessons?
  • Reputation. What do other students have to say about the experience of learning French with this program? Is it effective?
  • Value. A more expensive set of French lessons is worth the investment if it delivers superior results. Will you get your money's worth?

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!

Compare French Lessons

Select any 2 French Lessons to compare them head to head

See the Best French Lesson
The Best Reviews of French Lessons