Tuesday, February 10, 2015

4 Helpful Apps for Learning French

I’ve been so lazy when it comes to my French. Between working full-time and living life, French hasn’t been a priority since I studied the language in college. And even then, despite my love of the language, I wasn’t able to fit the classes into my schedule after my sophomore year. So, for more or less the last five years, I haven’t had much of a reason to practice speaking French, and I learned that the cliché “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” is more than a little true.

When I decided that I was going to France this year, it gave me the kick in the seat that I needed in order to pick up French again. This past fall, I resumed my studies with the hope that maybe I’d be able to get by in Paris without asking everyone to speak to me in English (even though many French people speak English too). Since I don’t have the funds to take classes or pay for fancy software, I had to find a way to immerse myself in the language again--reading, speaking, and listening to French whenever possible at little cost--and I think I’ve been managing thanks to my iPhone and some great apps. So without further ado, here are my go-to apps for learning French!
Duolingo is my godsend and a popular free app to boot. It makes learning a language (French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese currently) an interactive game instead of a memorization chore like some courses. Not only is the Duolingo owl super adorable, the app is fun (not kidding!). You complete units at your own pace and learn to read, write, and speak as you go along, and the app sends you email reminders to practice daily. I just hit my 100 day streak which was an exciting moment for me. Duolingo really has helped me to review the skills I learned in college while expanding my vocabulary and teaching me new grammar rules. If you want review a language or take a stab at a new one, this app should be on your phone.

News in Slow French is just that—news spoken in slow French. Each episode is like a radio show focusing on current events and also grammar. The cool thing about the app is that you can adjust the speed of the announcers, and the app provides a French transcript if you decide to read along. There is a paid version, but I’ve stuck with the free content and have been quite pleased.
La Dépêche is a regional daily newspaper from Toulouse, and the app lets you read their articles for free on your phone. I found the language to be the most accessible of the French newspapers that I tried to read, and the fact that I could read the articles easily on my iPhone was a huge plus. I’m a bit of a news junkie, so I like the fact that there are articles on a variety of topics at my fingertips.

VidaLingua French-English Dictionary has been a user-friendly resource for those moments when I’m struggling to understand something I’ve read or heard. There are free and paid versions available (the paid one comes with more words), but in both you’re given definitions, conjugations, and audio clips for pronunciation. The app also comes with phrases and vocabulary quizzes. I’ve stuck with the free version because I’m being a cheapskate, but I probably should upgrade. There’s been more than one occasion where the definition I need is only available if I download the paid version, which can be more than a teensy bit frustrating.


I’d love to be bilingual one day, but I know that, realistically, I’m a long way off, but I’m going to keep at it. I hope that you’ve maybe discovered a new app to download, especially if you’re studying French like me (or trying to anyway). I’d love to know what language(s) you’re studying and if you’re using any apps to help you! xx


  1. Duolingo is the only app I'd heard of before. The slow news one sounds incredible. My teacher always encouraged us to immerse ourselves in a different language by watching television and listening to radio but the speed of the language makes it so difficult! I'm going to see if there is a Spanish equivalent. Good luck with your French, I'm sure these apps will help you become bilingual in no time!

    1. The speed of French can be a problem for me too, which is why I love News in Slow French. I hope there's a Spanish equivalent! Good luck with your language studies.