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The best smartphone apps for learning French

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The best smartphone apps for learning French
Photo: stuphoto/Depositphotos
09:57 CET+01:00
It's often said the best way to learn French is by speaking it, and that's all well and good - but where do you start if you don't have the words to express yourself?

A winning way to learn French is while sitting (or more likely, standing) on the Metro, in your lunch break or whenever you have a spare five minutes.

Yes, there are hundreds of apps out there, but we've rounded up some of the best (in honour of French language week).

Let us know if you have used them and if they helped you.

Learn French by Bravolol Limited

Perfect for tourists or beginners, this app teaches you 800 of the most common and useful words and phrases. A French-speaking parrot helps you improve your spelling and authentic pronunciation - you can record your voice to see if you're getting it right, and the words are sorted into topics so you can choose those most relevant to you.

User Janet Perez wrote: “Simple and helpful. It is easy to use it, it teaches you the basic greetings and words, the pronunciation and it doesn't have annoying commercials."

Learn French 6000 Words

As the name suggests, this app is a vocabulary builder, teaching you the 6,000 most common words in French, so it's suited to anyone aiming at comprehension (of menus and signs, for example) rather than conversation.

The words are organized in themes with illustrations, phonetic transcriptions and recordings of native pronunciation, and you can test your knowledge using one of the language games. Students can also set the difficulty of the the app according to their level: beginner, intermediate or advanced.

“Great vocabulary builder. Wide selection of vocabulary, also builds spelling skills. Graphics for words are helpful (and funny)” user Amanda McQ commented in the Google Play site.

Le Conjugueur

If you're already familiar with the basic phrases but want to brush up on your grammar, this handy app is a must. You can look up 9,000 French verbs to find out how to conjugate them in any tense, helping you avoid errors even when you're dealing with the tricky irregulars or one of the less common tenses.

User Chris Isbister wrote: “Excellent. A solid app for reviewing verb conjugations and definitions, as well as conjugation rules, all without requiring an internet connection.”

Duolingo

One of the most comprehensive and best-rated language-learning apps out there, Duolingo's makers claim 34 hours on the app "are equivalent to a semester of university-level education".

Grammar, vocab and phrases are organized into different topics which you work through in small, bite-sized lessons. It evolves as you go so that you'll be tested on the topics you struggle with most. The only downside is that you can't pick and choose specific topics to learn, but have to unlock them in the correct order.

“Amazing! Duolingo is really easy and fun and really does a great job of teaching the language you have chosen!! Its cool that you get 'gems' when you finish a topic and can spend it in the store to get icons or clothes for the Duolingo bird!” writes user Hannah Bottomley.

And the ones that aren't free:

FluentU

This one's a bit different (and only free for the first 15 days). It focuses on video-based learning, meaning that you get to check out real French clips from around the internet and get tested on them afterwards. 

"I really really like the fact that the videos are real authentic videos. It makes it much more interesting. Learning... almost becomes an afterthought to the fact that you are watching cool videos," one user called Niel said. 

Learn French - Speak French

The app's creators promise that learning French is "easier than you think", and its 50 million users worldwide seem to agree, judging by its positive reviews.

It's aimed at those who want to develop a comprehensive understanding of French, with vocabulary and grammar units, audio dialogues and language games - you can even send exercises to a native speaker for feedback.

“Awesome! I studied French as a subject but I found this app worth a dozen books,” user Waqar Rizvi said in a Play Store critique.

Only the first lesson is free, with subscriptions starting at around €12 for a month. 

Busuu

And lastly, this app, which costs around €10 a month, allows you to interact with real-life French people so you can learn French like real life.

Plenty of speaking practice on hand here, enough that the app promises you can "learn French in only ten minutes per day".

"Don't just learn languages, fall in love with them," says the team, adding that it has 60 million members. 
 
The app was rated by Apple as one of the "Best Apps" in 2014.
 
 
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