Readers’ tips: What’s the best smartphone app for learning French?

Whats the best app for learning French?

Our readers overwhelmingly chose Duolingo as their favourite app for learning French.

What is Duolingo?

With more than 300 million users worldwide, Duolingo claims to be "the most downloaded education app in the world".

Users in all 37 available languages are guided through grammar and vocabulary learning games by Duolingos green owl mascot, symbolizing knowledge and learning.

The companys theory is that games, rewards and bright animations introduce a sense of fun that motivates learners to continue using the app and advancing their language skills.

Users practice listening, reading, writing and speaking, passing through different levels as their language skills progress.

Many users access the app on the go for a few minutes of language practice every day.

Why is it so popular?

Users rate the apps variety of teaching methods, clear structure and stylish interface. The app also gets positive reviews for the speed at which learners start to pick up new words.

The Local reader Robert Tennet said that the app is recently “much improved with the 'skip a level' option” which allows users start learning at a level matched to their ability, rather than automatically having to start at the beginning.

One user wrote "what an addictive, supportive and fun way to learn. In three days of about 20 minutes my vocabulary was easily over 100 words and I found myself translating food items."

Another user also appreciated the apps's approach to teaching vocabulary.

"Duolingo adds new words but they are integrated with repetitions of previously studied words. This keeps everything fresh and keeps the language alive, even if you are starting from nothing."

"Its great to learn a language at a pace I can choose and not have to force myself to enjoy, I actually want to learn!"

Other readers cited the fact that the app is free to use as a huge benefit, although reader Ken Stern feels that the opportunity to make in-app purchases means that the “app has gotten way worse during the last year” due to its refusal to “sell a subscription instead of constantly stopping your progress to 'buy' more time.”

Were any other apps recommended?

For more specific skills, SayHi Translate, an app which translates directly as you speak, got a mention for helping with “fast communication” as did La Conjugaison for quick reference, searchable verb tables.

If you would like to ask The Local's readers a question to hear their tips on life in France, email us at


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