French

Oxford Dictionaries

4.2 
Price: From free to €16.99, depending on the language

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Oxford Dictionary has published numerous bilingual dictionaries over the years, many of which are not designed to be comprehensive. While some are “complete” dictionaries, others are called “mini”, “concise”, “essential” or even “shorter”.

Even the smaller ones are pretty thorough, however. The Oxford Mini Greek dictionary contains 40,000 words and phrases, many of which also contain multiple translations. It’s a lot shorter than the Oxford Hindi dictionary, at 100,000 entries, or the New Oxford American English Dictionary at 350,000 – but it’s still got a wider vocabulary than the average English speaker.

You can purchase the books themselves, but most learners will prefer the convenience of the apps with their regular updates and learner-friendly features. Search Autocomplete, Fuzzy Filter, Wild Card and Voice Search help you find words you don’t know how to spell. Favourites help you save useful words and phrases, while Word of the Day will introduce you to new words. Some dictionaries also contain audio recordings and thesauruses. And the freemium Oxford Dictionary with Translator will translate words and paragraphs to and from 14 languages.

For some languages, learners already have plenty of free, thorough dictionaries available to them. Spanish learners, for example, will probably prefer to combine the free apps SpanishDict and Diccionario RAE (Google Play, App Store). Mandarin Chinese learners will likely find Pleco more useful. But for some languages, these dictionaries may well be the most thorough and reliable ones available.

The rating is our best guess, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully test and review this resource.

 

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Forget About the Paywalls: Learn French for Free

Until now, you may have been saving up to pay for your first French class. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a subscription to a language learning app that keeps showing up in your news feed. Or, perhaps you’ve given up all hopes of learning French because it will cost too much.

What if we told you that you could learn French without touching your wallet? That you can start your learning journey today, for free?

It’s true.

With our experience testing hundreds of resources, we know that it’s possible—and we’ll show you how. You won’t need to put aside money for monthly payments or splurge on a new textbook; all you need is your motivation and a digital device.

So keep reading and let’s explore a ton of high-quality resources to keep your French studies free!

Choose Your Resources

If you want to learn French for free, you may need to adopt an eclectic approach to French resources. What is limited access in one may be free in another, so don’t get discouraged if you hit a paywall.

We’ve made sure to include resources that tackle reading, writing, speaking, and listening. You can mix and match, but at the beginner and intermediate levels you may want to establish an overarching structure with step-by-step courses.

We’ll first introduce some course options, then offer some podcasts, YouTube channels, and reading tools to enrich your studies.

Next we’ll point you towards a plethora of practice activities to refine your skills and some reference sites for when you need a quick answer for grammar, pronunciation, nuances and more.

It’s often more fun to learn with others, so we’ve also handpicked some community sites for language exchanges and writing and speaking feedback.

Finally, you’ll find out how to get some paid resources for free and assess your French level based on the CEFR scale.

And don’t forget, if you sign up to be an app tester on the ALR website, you can get free access to paid resources in exchange for your honest opinions.

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29 Carefully Curated YouTube Channels for Learning French

Though French is a popular second language, it can be difficult to find high-quality YouTube videos appropriate to your level. We hope to solve that problem with this carefully curated list of our 28 favourite YouTube channels.

Whether you’re a beginner or almost fluent, we’re sure you’ll find something here to enrich your French studies.

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36 Great French Podcasts For Any Learner

Understanding spoken French at a natural speed can be a daunting task. After years of study, you may find yourself listening to the news and feeling overwhelmed by each wave of new words. Or, you may feel confident understanding one French speaker, then feel completely lost with someone else.

Whatever the case, podcasts are an excellent resource to get you used to a variety of French-speaking voices and make sure you rely on your ears rather than your eyes for understanding.

Below are 36 recommendations for French podcasts, tested by us and organized by level for your listening enjoyment. Choose one or many to accompany you on your French learning journey.

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News In Slow French

Quick Review

4.5 

Summary:

News in Slow French offers three different levels of content (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) with lots of different features for each. I’m a huge fan of what’s included at the intermediate level but a bit less enthusiastic about the content at the beginner and advanced levels. That’s not to say those levels are bad, they aren’t by any means, but the material available for intermediate level learners is really fantastic. Much more than simply current events narrated at a slower pace, News in Slow French is comprensive, engaging, fun, and effective.

Quality

It often doesn’t feel like you’re studying without sacrificing on quality.

Thoroughness

The depth and unique manner in which they teach grammar and expressions is really impressive.

Value

Although it’s not cheap, there’s more content than you may initially realize.

Price

There’s a 7-day free trial for new subscribers, then the price is $19.90/month. There’s also an option to prepay for up to 12 months at a time, which doesn’t affect the monthly price.

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Mondly

Quick Review

2.7 

Summary:

Mondly is a language-learning app that teaches basic vocabulary and grammar structures. It seems most appropriate for learners with little to no exposure to their target language.

The activities mostly rely on passive recognition of vocabulary and phrases, and therefore are not very challenging. However, they are varied enough that you probably wouldn’t get bored with short, daily practice sessions.

Although I wouldn’t recommend Mondly to anyone looking to seriously learn a language, it may be appropriate for individuals studying languages with less available resources, or for individuals who are preparing to travel abroad.

Quality

Both the interface and the course itself could be designed better.

Thoroughness

It’s decent for learning vocabulary, but I thought a lot of the material wasn’t explained very well.

Value

It’s fairly inexpensive.

Price

There are three plans…
$9.99 per month for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for one language
$47.99 per year ($4/mo) for all languages

Strangely, I was able to access multiple languages even though I only signed up for one month at $9.99.

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Lang Workbooks

Price: $5.99

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For learners of languages that use unfamiliar writing systems, the Lang Workbooks series can be a helpful and practical way to master the intricacies of writing in their target languages. Among numerous other writing systems, the series includes the Korean, Russian Cyrillic, and Armenian alphabets; Persian and Thai script; the Hindi Devanāgarī abugida; Chinese characters; and Japanese Hiragana and Katakana. The series also covers languages that use the Latin alphabet with diacritical (accent) marks, such as French, German, and Portuguese.

Many books in the series have been translated into other languages, such as Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. The series also covers writing systems that may have fewer available resources for learners, such as Lao script and the Cherokee syllabary.

Each book in the series presents its featured writing system with suggested pronunciations. The practice pages in each workbook have useful features for each letter, symbol, or character, such as a recommended stroke order, font variations, example words, and a “Trace and Learn” section.

Each workbook is relatively inexpensive. In addition, the publishers of the series have granted teachers and students a license to make photocopies of the workbook pages for personal use, so you can get unlimited chances to practice. Considering the depth of information in each language’s workbook, the books in this series can provide great value for learners.

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27 Best Online French Courses: We’ve Tried Them

the best online courses for learning french banner

If you’re interested in learning French and are looking for the perfect online course, you may have noticed that it’s not an obvious choice. Fortunately, the numbers are on your side — there are more online French courses to choose from every day. There are so many, in fact, that sifting through them can quickly become overwhelming. 

We’ve taken the time to go through the extensive list of resources we’ve tried, and some we haven’t, to find the best of the best and highlight what makes them so special. Only the resources that we’ve rated at least 3.5 stars have made this list.

There’s simply no one-size-fits-all course that will be best for all learners. Your learning style, interests, past experiences, and goals all have a say in what course will work best for you. This is exactly why we’ve created this list, to provide learners with the best information to get started in the right direction.

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LingQ

Quick Review

Summary:

LingQ is a language learning platform that makes it easy to read and listen to interesting content at varying difficulty levels. As you read, words will be marked as known and LingQ tracks the total number of words you “know”. The content comes from lots of different places with very little of it being original. They also make it very easy to upload your own content.

Quality

The LingQ reading app is enjoyable in most languages, easy to use, and can expand your vocabulary. However, I found the user content frustrating to navigate.

Thoroughness

With the import function, users can choose to study almost anything they want.

Value

Now that other apps provide similar functions, the monthly subscription may be a bit overpriced. However, the yearly subscription seems fair.

Languages

Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English, Korean, French, Russian, German, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Greek, Polish, Esperanto, Belarusian, Latin, Ukrainian. There are also 20 additional languages in Beta.

Price

Premium membership costs $12.99/mo, $71.94/half-year, $107.88/year, $191.76/2-years; single-language lifetime membership costs $199

When I first signed up for LingQ, I wasn’t very impressed. Its seemingly random lesson library, filled with custom cover photos and inconsistent title formats, made me want to click on just about anything to get away from that page.

However, after exploring every function I could find, I realized that the reading tool has several useful functions for anyone trying to learn a language through extensive reading. Most importantly, it makes reading in other languages feel manageable.

The site has three main pages: Lessons, Tutors, and Community. Within them, you can find free and purchasable lessons, coins, an avatar, writing exchanges, a community forum, audio playlists, and challenges.

I mostly used LingQ for reading in Spanish and dabbled in French, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, and Korean.

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OPLingo

3.5 
Price: Freemium, Premium Subscriptions cost $6.99/mo, $60/Year

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OPLingo is a community-oriented, non-profit language learning site. It essentially combines the functions of LingQ, LangCorrect, Readlang, iTalki, and HelloTalk.

The free version gives you limited access to some functions, but by paying for a membership you support ethical causes — such as building a primary school in Tanzania.

You can browse user-contributed texts or easily import your own YouTube videos, articles, or ebooks into the Reading Tool. OPLingo has also developed hundreds of audio conversations in several languages, including Tagalog, Cebuano, Thai, Swahili, and Russian.

Within each page, you can read a transcript and get definitions and pronunciations of unknown words. By identifying which words you don’t know, the next passages you read will highlight the number of known or unknown vocabulary words.

In their Write & Correct section, you can write in over 100 languages and exchange corrections with other users, although Spanish, French, and English learners have a better chance of receiving corrections than other languages at the moment.

You can also practice a language by texting with fellow community members, or by hiring a teacher in your target language.

OPLingo has a lot of potential and is a good alternative to LingQ, but it needs a community of learners to help it grow — so check it out!

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