Is FrenchPod101 a good podcast to learn French with? (review)
French is a truly beautiful language spoken by millions, and one of the most popular languages in the community.
In this FrenchPod101 review I take a look at how the resource helps french learners reach fluency quickly. The lessons are primarily audio, and can be taken with you anywhere.
FrenchPod101: French Lessons Online
FrenchPod101 is a great podcast to learn French online, and on the go with. In this review I'll take a closer look at it.
It’s produced by Innovative Languages who also produce 33 other languages, including Spanish, and offers high quality audio and video lessons, plus a lot of bonus features that I will cover later in this review.
At the core of the Pod101 programme we find the lessons. Audio and video lessons tailored to help you learn French in a fun and effective way.
The super short version:
It's awesome, especially for busy people on the go or during the daily commute, fun lessons with energetic hosts and a varied syllabus.
FrenchPod101 Review: Table of Contents
The main lessons are available in audio format and feature a native speaker and a non-native speaker. The lessons are short and to the point (about 10-12 minutes) and usually follow this pattern:
- Dialogue at normal speed
- Dialogue slowed down
- Dialogue with English translations
- Vocabulary discussion
- Grammar discussion
- Cultural pointers
They have a good balance and by listening to them you get a greater understanding of not only the language, but also the culture behind French.
The Online Lesson Player
(Note: You can download all the lessons to listen on your computer or device as well.)
This is what the online audio lesson player looks like. Here you can listen to the full track, just the French audio or even review it with the review track. This track helps you practice your own pronunciation or listening skills.
You can also download lesson extras in the form of PDFs.
The really cool part is that they offer dialogues for both informal and formal speech, so you can learn how to speak to your boss and your friend at the same time.
The lesson extras:
- Lesson Notes - including bonus examples and explanations not in the lesson itself.
Grand Total: +575 audio lessons included.
Just like the German version you get the 575+ audio lessons AND you also get access to 200+ video lessons. These are very short videos that enhance your skills by having you practice answering questions, listening to sentences and more.
This means that you get access to over 890 lessons to learn French online when you become a member. I won't spend too much time here to discuss the videos, as I consider them mostly bonuses.
Your membership also comes with a lot of tools and resources to help you learn.
One of my favourite resources are the flashcards they offer.
I' a regular user of Memrise, but the FrenchPod101 flashcards are amazing. Here's why.
- They're based on spaced repetition theory, which just works.
- They are the same vocabulary you hear in the main lessons, so you get to hear them being used in practice and you get more exposure to them.
- The main word bank features 2000 words with pronunciation and example sentences for all entries. If you know 2000 words you're quite fluent in a language, usually. Once you've mastered the 2000 words on FrenchPod101 you can "graduate" to getting your vocabulary from native material such as books, newspapers and television.
- The interface works fine. It's not as good as Memrise, but I can live with it.
Innovative Languages focuses a lot on portability, so if you’re the type to learn languages on your commute, while doing chores or basically anytime you’re not in front of the computer you have a few options on how to best make that happen.
- You can download ALL episodes in DRM-free mp3 format and simply transfer them to your mobile device.
- You can download the Innovative Languages app from the app store and stream any lesson.
The app is quite convenient and allows a truly mobile experience of the lessons.
This is perfect if you have good connectivity and would like to be hands-on with the learning.
By using the app you have access to all the features on the go which is FAR superior to just downloading the audio files as I was doing for a while.
Innovative Languages also have a free flashcard app called “Word Power” for a few languages including French, but to me this felt a bit clunky and I couldn’t really get into using it – strongly preferring to learn French online with the web-based version, where I could see the example sentences and stream the audio effortlessly.
What does it cost?
FrenchPod101 offers 3 levels of paid membership. The free content is quite limited, so I won't recommend that here.
- Basic: Grants you access to all the lessons for a few bucks per month. You get no access to full transcripts and the many tools they have, but in terms of value for money this is incredible.
- Premium: Gets you access to everything from comprehensible transcripts and a vast array of tools you can use to make your learning more fun. The recommended level.
- Premium+ is like Premium, but you also get access to a teacher from FrenchPod101. If you are super motivated and have the money this is a luxury option.
My recommendation is:
- Premium: Starting at $18.75 per month, with the 25% Actual Fluency discount applied.
You can save by investing in more months upfront.
FrenchPod101 Coupon Code
Use the code ACTUALFLUENCY, to get 25% off your purchase!
FrenchPod101 Review Conclusion
FrenchPod101 is a great way to learn French online.
I've been using the Hungarian and Russian version for a while now and I love the fact that I can learn languages while I do the dishes, walk to the shops or even while working out in the gym.
The lessons are well-structured, not too long and contain the grammar you actually need without boring you to death.
They also teach you about cultural norms, including when to use the formal language and what the social norms are such as etiquette, tipping and just about anything else.
The hosts also do a bit of banter, albeit sometimes very scripted, to loosen up the mood.
What I like
- Value for money: Over 850+ lessons included in the membership
- Great lesson structure with just enough grammar explanations
- Portable and DRM-free: Download all the lessons
- Great extra features like the word bank, flashcards, and study tools
- Detailed lesson notes (PDFs, cultural notes, additional grammar information)
- Teaches French culture as well as the language
- Continually updated
What I don't like
- Aggressive email marketing even to existing customers
- Bonus lessons are very short
- The lessons use a lot of English to explain
- Limited content for free