The Best Apps to Learn French: Tested by an Expat

The best apps to learn French

Heading into 2021, I am continuously thinking about the best apps to learn French. Learning French by app is the way I’ve learned French thus far. As an American Expat living in France, it’s been my go-to method of learning. I know what you’re thinking, how can you possibly learn French via an app. Well, the answer is simple. The best way to learn French is through an accessible and consistent method. You always have your phone on you. No matter where life takes you, your phone is still there. We can download any French learning app we want at the drop of a hat. With so many to pick from, it can be overwhelming to decide which learning app is the best for French. I’ve tried pretty much all of them, so I’m saving you the trouble by spilling the beans on the app best to learn French.

Let’s go!

learning french by app
Admit it you have your phone right now

My French Learning Journey

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I am not sponsored or affiliated with the apps and websites I’m listing below. I’m not getting anything, rien! Every single French learning app, class, etc. I mention they are from my personal experience with learning French.

Do I wish I got paid to write this post, bah oui!
ANYWHO.. now that you know this isn’t a paid post, you can perhaps take what I’m saying to heart.

I’ve been learning French since I met Mr. French back in 2015. The little bird started out taking French lessons in Brooklyn, New York taking beginner French classes at Coucou. If you live in New York, you’ll notice that there are a lot of French Expats. It’s no wonder they’ve come together and created native learning schools like Coucou.

When I started my French learning journey, I thought in-class learning was the best way for me to learn. I’m a nerd and loved learning Spanish in high school. 

I know I should have taken French 😅 .

Coucou French Classes New York
Coucou French Classes Instagram

Coucou: In-Person Classes vs. French App Learning

Coucou reminded me of being back in school with a hipster twist. Classes took place twice a week and ran by a native French teacher. They were spontaneous, and the student to teacher ratio was spot-on. Ten students maximum to optimize learning. Drinking wine, speaking « French street » by using « on » instead of « Nous » was the norm. However, as much as I love Coucou. 

Trust me.

 I adore the way they approach french learning. If I’m honest, I found myself stressing about the cost and the lack of daily progression. Eventually, I realized I preferred to learn in small fragments in a game-like structure. Learning French by app became the way I progressed the fastest.

Free French Apps to help you learn French

There seems to be a misconception about whether or not you can learn French via an application. I’m here to tell you that it is doable. There is almost no real reason to spend thousands of dollars on a class, program, private tutor who may or may not deliver results.

Can we all agree that most of the “best french learning apps” are NOT free? Sadly, you have to pay to learn. If you’re a young person, student, or don’t have the extra cash to buy it. That is why I love using the FREE french learning app Duolingo.

French apps Tested by an Expat
How Duolingo Looks in your phone

Duolingo: The Top FREE French Learning App

Duolingo includes reading, grammar, writing, and audio practice for each section. Along with matching, real-life situation extras, and more! The more levels you master, the point crowns, their version of points, you get. The beauty of the app is that it mimics a game. If you can play PS5, you can learn French on Duolingo.

I am a massive advocate of Tinycards (Duolingo free extra) app when on the subway for brushing up on keyphrases. Did I mention that Duolingo has a Podcast! First off, who doesn’t love multitasking with a podcast playing in the background? Before my first trip to Montpellier back in 2016, I used Duolingo nonstop to prepare for meeting my French husband’s family.

It’s obvious I love Duolingo, partly because this is the app I used when first starting my french language journey. It’s free with options to upgrade to the premium version if you’re really serious about learning. You can also download their other free french learning apps, “Tinycards” and “Podcast.” I use all three apps every day for about an hour.

You may also like reading our Expat Budget Page

The Best Apps to Learn French
The Best Apps to Learn French

Free-ish Lessons using Rocket Languages, RocketFrench App

RocketLangugage and specifically RocketFrench is a bomb a** app; however, the pricing is meh at best. The good news is there are free french lesson options within RocketFrench. This top french learning app created by native French speakers transports you to France. Instead of just focusing on nonsense, it makes sure you understand each section before continuing. You almost have to pass a mini-test within in subsection of the lesson. What makes this app so great is its ability to let you download and relisten each section at your own pace. 

RocketFrench 2021 prices
RocketFrench 2021 prices

There is a dialogue between a native french person and (English speaker) which starts at the beginning of the lessons. During the verbal exchange, both people take turns saying french words and using them in real-life situations. Pronunciation is essential in this app. You won’t “pass” if you cannot pronounce the words similar to the native speaker. DONT be discouraged. RocketFrench gives you plenty of tries to get it and a hefty amount of exercises to go over what you heard in the dialogues.

You may also like reading “You Need a French Bank Account as An American Expat

Free French Apps to help you learn French
French learning apps are my BFF

Memrise, Babble, Primsleur Oh My

Memrise

Funny enough, I heard about the app Memrise through my sister Keilah, who is currently in the US Marines. She took French in High School, *cough*, and wanted to brush up on her French before coming to France for my South of France backyard wedding in 2018. I honestly love this app simply because it has taught me “French expressions”. For example I learned how to say “Je te tiens au jus” which equates to keep me posted.

Babble

Mmm this app I know you’ve heard of already so i’m not going to deep-dive into it. It’s a pretty good app if it’s the first French language app you’ve used. I would say it’s user friendly and has a lot going for it. I personally just like Duolingo better.

Pimsleur

This app was overhyped on YouTube. I get it. They are affiliates of the course and are getting coins every time someone signs up. If you tried it and loved it keep pushing. It just didn’t click for me. I downloaded the app and hoped for so much. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t gain what I had initially anticipated unless I upgraded the full course. The app is similar to RocketFrench. You get one free lesson for the level and need to pay to unlock the others.

Pimsleur French App Levels 1-5 Cost $575.

What the French Toast?!

I cannot. I’d instead put that towards an in-person class like Coucou then hope that this app works. Many people love it, though, so feel free to give it a try.

The top French Learning Apps
The top French Learning Apps

The best Apps to Learn French: Italki & HelloTalk

I’m beyond happy I found Italki & HelloTalk because these two apps are KING! Sadly, I cannot say I would recommend for beginner language learners. You really want to get the basics down before diving into these apps. You will find youself overwhelmed pretty quickly. I’ll be writing more about Italki and HelloTalk into another post because they really are amazing once you’ve mastered some basic understanding of the french language.

Have you tried using an app to learn French? Which is your favorite French leanrning app?

Let me know if the comments below!

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