Lately, there has been a lot of noise made about people constantly, obstinately working their mobile: in traffic, on the bus, on the tube...
We could hardly dispute the research – after all, such groups have vast resources to expend on gleaning and analysing information. However, what if all of that time people devote to their screens is a means to an end?
What if people fixated on their phones are actually doing something productive, like learning a language?
Of all the downloaded applications from the Apple store, educational apps – including language learning tools, come in third on the list of most downloaded, behind business and games.
By comparison, social networking and shopping apps rank 17th and 20th, respectively. Perhaps all of the blather about hanging on social media is inaccurate?
You surely know that there is a wealth of language learning websites and applications for learning on the go; some you have to pay for and some that are completely free.
And some that you can use for free, only to an extent. If you want the good content, you have to pay.
Here now, an interesting side note...
While conducting our own, decidedly unscientific research on which French learning apps are best, we found plenty of websites that had top ten lists on the topic, but none of those lists matched up!
And some did not even feature the same apps.
So we render onto you our own list of best IPhone and IPad apps to learn French with, compiled by exhaustive trials, and ranked by their comparative merits.
IPhone or IPad? Or Both?
You may wonder why we make a distinction between apps meant for your handheld device, and the one that you must hold with two hands.
Before we get into the best apps for each instrument, let us divulge the features that distinguish one from the other, and the similarities.
- Both are communications and storage devices that operate on the same system and can perform nearly the same functions.
- Both come equipped with cameras and are preloaded with assorted utilities.
- The operation of either the phone or the pad are fundamentally the same: touchscreens, wireless connectivity and the like.
- You can hold and manipulate your phone with one hand; the IPad generally requires the use of both hands.
- You can sync your devices so that you have the same applications on one as you do the other.
- While you can make phone calls with your IPad over wireless networks by using an app, only the IPhone can use cellular networks to make calls.
- Because of the bigger screen on the Pad, apps have more versatility and higher resolution graphics than on the smaller phone screens
- Any IPad can operate any application meant for either the pad or the phone, but the IPhone can only operate apps meant for the smaller sized device.
- Should you use a phone application on your Pad, you will likely find that the graphics are distorted and won't necessarily work right.
These distinctions are relevant to our topic. In fact, app designers usually create twin apps; one for each device.
If you are the proud owner of both, you are most likely aware of these divergences.
For anyone contemplating investment into Apple products, hopefully this breakdown will give you food for thought.
Now, on with the list of apps for optimal French language learning experience!
Apps for your Language Learning Pleasure
In 24 Hours Learn to Speak French
Would you believe that you can start learning a foreign language within such a short time frame?
According to testimony from any language learner currently using the app, it works well by itself or in conjunction with other tools to learn French.
Enroling in a language course takes time and money; commodities that can be in short supply – especially time.
Not so with 24 Hours!
Its audio feature permits you to learn on the go by playing recorded words and phrases, first in English, and then in French.
If you have occasion to focus on your screen as you listen, all the better: what you see will be what you hear.
The best features of this app are: emphasis on conversational phrases, spoken by a native speaker.
Downsides: no repeat function, and the lessons will not continue automatically. Once you've finished a lesson, you must manually engage the next learning unit.
Learn French Vocabulary and Grammar with Busuu
Used by over 80 million language learners worldwide, this app has won awards for its ease of use and breadth of language instruction.
As a member of this learning community, you will be guided by native speakers toward proper pronunciation of words and how to say frequently used phrases.
You can challenge your language acquisition by taking quizzes, built right into the app!
Even better: the software developers have recently added a progress bar so that you can track your learning and gain a fluency score.
And, as you learn new language, you can help others learn your native language because Busuu works as a language exchange platform!
We've found two downsides to this app:
You would have to pay for more in-depth lessons once you've mastered the language instruction that is available for free.
For some reason, downloaded lessons have trouble staying downloaded. Some users even report that the app is not available for use offline.
Nevertheless, you could gain a lot of language skills with this app.
Learn & Play Languages Beginner
For some people, learning is most effective when it is fun!
This app combines audio and visual, along with games to help you learn language faster.
One of its best features is that it teaches by word grouping. For example, you will learn all of the basic words for greetings at once.
You can then make flashcards of them before you play the app's games, or note them in your phrasebook, if you so choose.
Trying to teach yourself a second language is never an easy prospect, especially if there is no external motivation, such as an upcoming holiday or learning French for business.
That is why this software strives to make studying feel more like playing!
Their quick-start programme is free, but more in-depth learning will require a small fee. However, you can use this app on- or offline, and it even doubles as a translator!
If you're looking for a good French English translator, click here!
In keeping with the fun theme, allow us to introduce...
Learn French with Mindsnacks
As language courses go, this one rates high for its engaging games and challenging quizzes.
While it doesn't get heavily into verb conjugation, you will certainly find listening to each new phrase, and the activities that go with it, stimulating.
You will of course have the opportunity to memorize verbs and their endings, but you won't have entire sessions that focus exclusively on such repetition.
Perhaps the best part of this app is that you can challenge your friends through its family sharing feature!
If we could think of language learning apps as cars for just a moment, the last two applications might be comparable to a Mini – kicky and fun to drive. Others are more like Land Rovers: a bit bulky, but useful nonetheless.
When it comes to the following one, it might be considered the Rolls Royce of language lessons via app.
Memrise Language Learning
This language learning software has games, ways to practice your speaking and plenty of new words on the ever-ubiquitous flashcard – a lot like the other featured systems.
What Memrise has that the others don't is videos: thousands of videos of native speakers – not teachers!, introducing and drilling on new vocab. They even take you through the learning materials you're about to study.
And that's not all!
You have chat bots, you have object recognition: snap a picture and the app will store it, along with the name of what you've captured, for you to refer to any time you want!
Learning a new language has never been more technical... or more versatile.
Honourable Mention Applications
Each of the apps highlighted here brings a new dimension to learning languages. Yet, we've barely scratched the surface of utilities available for learning languages!
Now, we mention a few that you may already know:
- Duolingo – a free language learning platform that includes a proficiency assessment
- Babbel: a subscription-based app and e-learning platform
- Rosetta Stone – more than a quarter-century of experience in how to learn a language
- Rocket French was voted the best quality, most comprehensive audio programme
When I was looking for French lessons, Superprof found me several great tutors. I started learning in no time!
The Best Way to Learn a New Language
Some believe that quality, effective learning can only be had in a classroom, with a certified teacher.
Others are not fond of classrooms and would never sit in one again if they didn't have to.
Far be it from anyone to presume what your learning preferences are, but you may find value in this tip:
Make use of free trials to discover the right app for your learning process.
You may realise that using two apps – a fun one and a more traditional-style approach will make you bilingual faster.
And what if you don't have two Apple devices?
Every app to learn a foreign language featured in this article is formatted for either IPhone or IPad; you simply choose which platform you will download to.
Read about learning French online.