Interested in learning French? Your options for study are many. Fortunately for those that require the convenience afforded by digital methods, this includes a great number of apps.
We’ve tested a ton of these resources ourselves and have seen that the quality of apps out there is as varied as their number. This list attempts to highlight some of the best in specific categories but makes no claim to be exhaustive. Instead, it will hopefully help you narrow your options and find the ones that fit your needs.
Best Course for Speaking and Listening Skills: Pimsleur
Best Free Course: Duolingo
Best for Learning Vocabulary Easily: Memrise
Best for Customizable Vocabulary Practice: Anki
Best for Learning Vocabulary From Context: Lingvist
Best Free Way to Learn Vocabulary From Context: Clozemaster
Best for Interesting Content Across All Levels: News in Slow French
Best Podcast-Style Lessons: FrenchPod101
Best Audiobooks for French Learners: French Today
Best for French Immersion: Francais authentique
Best for Reading Practice: LingQ
Best French Radio App: Radio France
Best for Getting Feedback on Pronunciation: Speechling
Best for Getting Feedback on Writing: italki
Best for Getting Answers to Quick Questions: HiNative
Best for Finding a Tutor: italki
Best for Language Exchanges: Tandem
The resources in this category do a little bit of everything. Where some options focus on one or two elements of language acquisition, these take a more comprehensive approach.
The upside to using one of these programs is that you won’t have to use a bunch of supplementary resources to fill out your practice time. They’re generally better for learners that are just starting out with a language.
These two programs both offer great interactive courses for learners of French, and they both have their strong suits.
LingoDeer is the more engaging of the two. It’s got a wide variety of exercises that are presented in a game-like way to keep your attention. It’s also got some decent grammar explanations and is a relatively inexpensive option for getting started with a language. One of its few downsides is that the lesson order is sometimes strange.
Babbel may not be quite as visually appealing or fun to use, but there’s a reason it’s one of the more popular platforms out there. The courses on Babbel are thorough, and the lessons build on each other in a logical manner. Babbel’s main aim is to get users to a conversational level as quickly as possible.
Feel like studying grammar is a waste of time and just want to get speaking? That’s this app’s guiding philosophy. With Pimsleur, you’ll get speaking right away. The focus with this app is very much on acquiring communicative skills rather than building foundational skills.
Speaking practice is lacking in a lot of resources, and that makes this one refreshing. The Pimsleur app is also easy to use and visually appealing, which is a plus. That said, the practice activities do get repetitive. Read our full review here.
Chances are you’ve heard of this one. As far as free courses go, Duolingo is hard to compete with. In addition to French, it’s got courses in 35 different languages and millions of users.
The bite-sized lessons and game-like aesthetic make this one of the more accessible and entertaining options out there. It’s easy to pick up whenever is convenient and study for as long or as little as you like.
The short lessons mean you’ll sacrifice something in the way of in-depth explanations, but it’s hard to beat practice that’s so convenient and free. The serious language learner will require supplementary materials, but there’s no doubt as to why Duolingo is so popular. Here’s our full review.
The above-mentioned apps are some of our favorites, but they certainly aren’t your only options. There are a ton of other apps that offer general French courses, and one of them could be what you’re looking for. Here are some other noteworthy options.
Using flashcards is one of the oldest ways to study a language. They are as effective as they are simple, and the technique doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Memrise is an online resource that brings the flashcard experience into the digital realm, making it more engaging and powerful. It uses spaced repetition to make study time more efficient and includes pictures, audio, and some video content. There’s also a bunch of user-created content that’s available for free, making the amount of available material pretty much limitless.
Quality will vary by course, though, and this isn’t the best option for learners at advanced levels. You can see our full review here.
This is another resource that uses flashcards and spaced repetition but takes a more customizable approach. You’ll have to pay to use Anki on iOS, but it’s free to use everywhere else and gives users complete control to create their own study materials. You can create your own decks of study cards or you can download one from the large database of shared material created by other users.
The flexibility to study exactly what you want, how you want, combined with the reliability of spaced repetition has made this resource popular not just among language learners but with anyone that has material they need to memorize.
Picking up new vocabulary is one of the most basic building blocks of language acquisition. One way to go about this is memorizing direct word-to-word translations. Anyone who’s spent time studying other languages, though, can tell you this isn’t really how languages work.
Lingvist teaches vocabulary by presenting a context and requiring the user to complete the translation. It isn’t flashy in any sense of the word, but each flashcard provides some useful extra information about the language. It also uses spaced repetition to help you focus on the translations you find most difficult. Here’s a full review of Lingvist.
Clozemaster takes a similar approach to Lingvist in teaching vocabulary. Users are presented with fill-in-the-gap exercises designed to teach how language functions in context. The main differences between Clozemaster and Lingvist are price and aesthetics.
Clozemaster is mostly free to use and employs an entirely different interface style. Where Lingvist is professional and sleek, Clozemaster has an old-school arcade vibe. There are points, levels, and leaderboards to climb. The cost tradeoff is that Clozemaster isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Lingvist. We wrote a full review of Clozemaster here.
WordReference and Linguee
Looking up words in a dictionary is simply a part of learning a new language, and most people aren’t relying on paper dictionaries anymore. There are several good digital options available; WordReference and Linguee are two.
WordReference is free to use and makes looking up word meanings or verb conjugations very easy. It’s also got an active community of language aficionados that help to answer user questions.
Sometimes looking up words individually won’t get you the meaning you’re looking for, though; phrases can take on different meanings from the individual words they’re made up of. In these situations, Linguee is worth turning to. It sources phrases from a huge library of online bilingual texts to supply you with translations of entire phrases.
The apps above all offer good opportunities for vocabulary practice, but there are quite a few other apps in this category as well. Check out some more options below.
As the title suggests, News in Slow French aims to teach language through news events narrated at slower speeds and language that’s suited to the level.
This resource is quite a bit more than a simplified news source, though. It’s a comprehensive study program that is fun to use and will give you lots of practice opportunities, including plenty of explanations for what you’re listening to.
What makes this app great is that the content is actually interesting — nothing kills the motivation to study a language like dry and boring material. There are courses for learners of all levels and although the app isn’t particularly impressive, the content is. Here’s our full review of the resource.
Podcasts are an increasingly popular method for learning a language. They’re accessible and have serious potential for providing ample listening and reading practice with the use of transcripts.
FrenchPod101 uses podcast-style lessons to deliver comprehensive lessons in French through material that’s engaging and relevant. A strength of this resource is that it also teaches a good deal of cultural information, useful for any learner of French.
The resource is updated continually, which means there is always fresh material available. The mobile app might not be quite as good as the desktop version, but you can still use this one on the go. Read the full review of FrenchPod1010 here.
Is there a more complete way to get reading and listening practice than from an audiobook? Maybe not. French Today is a resource that actually offers much more than audiobooks (Skype lessons and an immersion experience), but the audiobooks are worth mentioning.
The amount of material in these books is immense, and the recordings are entirely in French. There’s a slow version of the audio, a “street” version, and a helpful study guide. Although material that’s entirely in French might be intimidating for some, the translations in the study guide are a big help.
There are also comprehension questions at the end of each lesson to round out the learning experience. We wrote a full review you can read here.
The fact that this is the only resource on this list with a French name isn’t a coincidence; this one’s all about immersion and authenticity, which means keeping things in the target language. Given that there is no English in this material, it isn’t suitable for beginners. Instead, this is a good option for learners that are interested in upping their French fluency through a high level of exposure.
Sounding natural in a foreign language is a serious feat — one that eludes many. The theory behind using Francais authentique is that you’ll pick up a natural cadence and vocabulary through repeated exposure to native speakers. The practice method is very repetitive, which could turn off some French learners, but it’s all in the name of learning to speak authentically. Read the full review here.
Finding learning material that interests you is often half the battle when it comes to learning a new language. This is one of the reasons that learning through reading can be so great — you’ll likely be able to find content that interests you.
LingQ is an app that facilitates reading in another language by making it super easy to look up words you don’t know. It also keeps track of all of the words you “know,” making it easier to pinpoint words you need to learn.
You can upload your own material to LingQ, and most of the content on the platform has been uploaded from various external sources. The vocabulary review opportunities are a bit chaotic, but there’s still a lot of good going on here. We wrote a full review of LingQ here.
Developing a personal relationship with the language you’re learning is the name of the game when it comes to motivation and a deeper understanding of the language. A popular method for accomplishing this is through music. Radio stations in the language you’re interested in have the added bonus of offering more than just music. Talk shows, news, and sports shows are just a few of the examples.
Radio France is a radio app for your phone that gives you access to over 1000 French radio stations, for free! While this app won’t provide you with explicit language instruction, it will give you the chance to get a ton of exposure to the language in a context you find interesting.
Below are some additional options for getting reading and listening practice. They didn’t make our list of favorites, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own strengths.
Pronunciation is arguably one of the most important elements of language proficiency; knowing what words to say isn’t worth much if no one can understand you. A lot of resources try to offer pronunciation practice through the use of speech-recognition technology, but this method just isn’t very reliable.
Speechling’s solution to this problem is to get humans involved, and it works really well. The idea is that language learners can submit recordings of themselves speaking the language they’re learning and a native speaker of that language will listen and provide constructive feedback.
A lot of its features are even free to use, including the submission of a limited number of recordings. Paying for a subscription allows you to submit an unlimited number of recordings each month. Here’s a full review of Speechling.
While italki is primarily a place to go for one-on-one lessons with teachers, it’s also got a really cool feature called Notebooks. In this section of the platform, users can submit pieces of writing on any subject they want. The writing will be visible to other users on the platform that can offer corrections and feedback on your writing. The people offering feedback are usually native speakers in the language you’re learning or at least highly proficient.
This is one of the best ways to get writing feedback, especially for longer-form writing, because it involves humans. It’s free to use, and you can repay the favor by correcting someone else’s writing. We wrote a full review of italki here.
It’s inevitable, you’ll have plenty of questions while studying a new language, and sometimes the answers won’t be readily available in a dictionary or Google search.
HiNative is an online platform that finds answers to your questions by taking advantage of one of the most authoritative resources out there: native speakers. Posting a question on the website exposes it to a massive audience of native speakers that are ready to help you understand how the language is really used.
Questions are usually answered very quickly and accurately, but you’ll have to remain wary of the odd piece of bad advice. Here’s our full review.
There are several options for learners interested in finding an online tutor for one-on-one classes, but it’s hard to beat italki.
The platform grants users access to an incredible number of tutors, which means finding lessons that fit your schedule and budget isn’t a problem. There is a range of experience levels and prices on italki, but plenty of filters make it easy to search for a tutor that works for you.
In addition to functioning as a tutor directory, italki offers a free language exchange feature. Users can connect and chat with other language learners of a reciprocal language pair. This feature is totally free to use. Here’s the full review.
Language exchange is a great method for getting authentic experience communicating in another language. It’s also usually free.
For French learners that don’t live in a French-speaking country or simply don’t have anyone to speak French with, it’s worth checking out digital solutions like Tandem. The app is designed to help language learners from all over the world connect in the name of language exchange.
There are some built-in language tools to make communicating and learning easier, but the app will be less useful to those that are complete beginners in the language. Read our full review of Tandem here.
There are a bunch of alternatives to the apps listed in this category as well. The options below could definitely be the right choices for some learners.
This list as long as it is simply because there are so many viable options out there and we’ve tried out a great deal of them. A list that only showcases a few wouldn’t really give you a good picture of your options.
While this list is long, it only covers resources available as apps. There are far more ways to study a language. We’ve also compiled lists of the best Youtube channels for learning French, the best online French courses, and the best podcasts for learning French.
Whatever route you take in your journey to learn French, take a little time to consider your options. The variety is great, and there are surely one or more that will get you speaking in no time.