The French language is one of the Romance languages spoken as a first or second language by an estimated 220 million to 300 million people worldwide. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations, and is at least one of the official languages of 29 different countries including France, Canada and Rwanda.
The prevalence of the French language around the world makes it an ideal language to learn for personal or business ventures. If you are interested in finding the best way to learn French, check out our review on a comprehensive language learning program by Innovative Languages: FrenchPod101.
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FrenchPod101 Review: Summary
Signing up for FrenchPod101 grants you a free lifetime account and a free 7-day Premium subscription trial period. You then have the option of upgrading to three different subscription levels including Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS. Each subscription builds upon features of the previous subscription with features like:
- unlimited access to audio and video libraries
- entertaining and relevant lessons
- free access to FrenchPod101 app
- lesson transcripts that can be printed
- interactive learning tools and quizzes
- daily word and mini-lessons emailed to you
- free mobile app to learn on-the-go
FrenchPod101 offers four levels of expertise including Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Lessons can be revisited as many times as needed until you are comfortable moving on. You can work as quickly or as slowly as you want to advance through the levels when you are ready.
Pros of FrenchPod101
Pro #1: Fun, Relevant Lessons
Both video lessons and podcasts are entertaining and relate to everyday life. Instructors often add their own quick, comedic spins on certain words or phrases to keep lessons upbeat and interesting. You will not find outdated terminology or lessons covering issues that do not pertain to modern life.
Pro #2: Holistic Learning Approach
Not only do lessons focus on proper pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure and tenses, but you will also learn some about French culture in different countries around the world. This holistic approach gives a more rounded view of the language as a whole.
Pro #3: Large Collection of Videos and Podcasts
FrenchPod101 offers one of the most extensive collections of lessons resulting in hundreds of hours of learning potential. On top of the video and audio lessons, you will find lesson notes and transcripts for further instruction. Learning tools like flashcards and interactive quizzes help you test your knowledge as you go along.
Cons of FrenchPod101
Con #1: Lack of Feedback
Though with higher subscription levels you can consult a teacher one-on-one or compare voice recordings with instructor’s, but basic subscription packages do not offer much feedback. Though pronunciation practice is advised, there is not a clear way to make certain you are doing it right.
Con #2: Oriented for Beginners
Though quite comprehensive for beginning French speakers, the advanced speaker who is looking to delve deeper into fluency may find FrenchPod101 lacking. Advanced speakers will find it to be more of a review instead of continuing instruction.
Features of FrenchPod101
Dashboard and Learning Pathways
You will access your dashboard upon logging into FrenchPod101. This is where you can keep track of and access all your lessons, change your subscription plan or change your level of expertise. Essentially, this is the control panel of your French studies.
FrenchPod101 offers a curated learning path that is very structured and guided to enhance your learning experience. There are hundreds of other learning pathways, all including similar lessons, for situations like Dating in France, Idioms and Proverbs and Must-Know French Social Media.
FrenchPod101 Video Lessons
The French instructors are energetic and clearly love passing on their knowledge of the language to you. Sometimes they will simply go over French words and meanings and other lessons will offer complete conversations. Pronunciation is slow so you can follow along and words are visible on the screen so you can see what you are saying.
FrenchPod101 Podcast Lessons
Podcasts are structured much the same as video lessons and, like video lessons, include transcripts that you can use to review after the lesson. This allows you to see how the words and phrases you pronounced are spelled. Also like video lessons, podcasts in lower expertise levels offer more English explanation, and English use decreases as you move up through the levels.
Additional Learning Tools
- Lesson Transcripts are available at the end of every lesson, video and podcast. These transcripts provide additional information about grammar, culture or proper usage of words and phrases.
- Flashcards use spaced repetition to help you memorize new vocabulary words. You are able to keep track of correct and incorrect words.
- Phrase and Word Lists are available from your dashboard with thousands of useful phrases and common words.
- Pronunciation Practice allows you to record and compare your voice with that of the instructor’s.
Who Should Buy FrenchPod101?
Those who are serious about becoming fluent in French will find FrenchPod101 to be an ideal starting point. Additionally, people who will most benefit from FrenchPod101 include those who:
- are motivated and dedicated to an independent study
- want to begin learning French for business or personal reasons
- can devote time to learning and practicing
- do not have access to French classes
Who Should Not Buy FrenchPod101
Some programs claim to be ideal for all learners, but the truth is that no single program will work for everyone. In this sense, those who may not benefit from FrenchPod101 include people who:
- need or prefer one-on-one help from an instructor
- lack motivation or dedication to study
FrenchPod101 vs. Competition
To give a fair review, let’s compare and contrast a few of FrenchPod101’s closest competitors.
FrenchPod101 vs. Pimsleur
The Pimsleur Method is based upon teaching foreign languages in the same way you learned your native language: simply by hearing and repeating it. Pimsleur is composed of a variety of audio podcasts with native French speakers in everyday life situations. It claims to have you speaking at an intermediate fluency level in just 30 days by studying 30 minutes per day. Pimsleur has a flat rate of $14.95 per month.
FrenchPod101 vs. RocketLanguages
Rocket French offers three levels of expertise in lessons and you pay for each lesson rather than by monthly subscription. Similar to FrenchPod101, Rocket French extensively covers grammar, culture and voice recognition. Rocket French claims to have you speaking on a mid-intermediate fluency level with the completion of all three lessons. The beginner lesson runs $149.95 and there is a significant discount for purchasing all three lessons in advance.
FrenchPod101 vs. Babbel
Babbel is subscription-based like FrenchPod101. Though it offers a variety of videos, podcasts, and learning tools, the collection is not as extensive as you find with FrenchPod101. The goal is to promote conversational French quickly with less emphasis on grammar or culture. The monthly cost is $12.95, but you receive a discount for the more months you purchase.
The FrenchPod101 cost is based upon a monthly subscription fee. There are three different subscription levels including Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS. All levels allow you to access each expertise level’s lesson library, word and phrase lists and find the latest news. Here is a complete breakdown of the subscription plans.
Basic Monthly Subscription
$8 $2.80/month (using this link)
- Access on Android, iOS, and computers
- Complete access to lessons
- Extensive lesson notes
- New lessons added weekly
Premium Monthly Subscription
$25 $7/month (using this link)
The Premium monthly subscription includes everything offered with the Basic subscription plus:
- Line-by-line audio dialogue
- HD video
- Custom word lists
- Interactive quizzes and flashcards
- Grammar and word bank
- Voice-recording applications
Premium PLUS Monthly Subscription
$47 $16/month (using this link)
The Premium PLUS monthly subscription includes everything in the Premium subscription plus:
- Personalized learning plan
- One-on-one instruction from a French teacher
- Continuing professional assessment
FrenchPod101 Review: Conclusion
Overall, we feel that while it’s not perfect, FrenchPod101 is one of the better ways to learn to speak French at your own pace. With comprehensive lessons covering all aspects of learning to speak French, interactive tools and quizzes, and the option for one-on-one instruction, a serious seeker of French fluency will benefit greatly from FrenchPod101.
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