06.01.17 | Bilingualism

5 Apps Will Help Your Child Practice French

Wondering what you can do to help your French immersion or French language learning child to enrich his or her French outside of school? Well we know that kids love their smartphone and spending time online, so why not encourage them to allocate some of that time to use one of these 5 cool apps to learn and enrich their French!
Let’s make it doable…how about you ask them to start with 10 minutes a day?

They can do it on the school bus on the way home,
or right before dinner when you let them know dinner is in 10, or set a specific time with them.
Even better, do it with them!

Of course, these are not apps that will replace a good language learning program but it is a great addition to enhance and enrich their language… and something they can do anywhere that doesn’t feel like school work!
With so many language-learning apps now available, you can get immersed in French with your child using your computer, tablet or smartphone. Here are 5 apps that we tried and reviewed!

I hope this helps you support your child bilingual journey! Enjoy!

1- Duolingo

The pitch: Learn a New Language for Free for life! This is on the top-rated language-learning app out there. Learning with Duolingo is fun and addictive. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. Their bite-sized lessons were studied for their effectiveness several times, read some of the proofs that it works.
This app will listen to your pronunciation and let you know how you are doing. It builds on the learning each day. A typically French immersion student should breeze through the first level and be able to graduate quickly to levels more meaningful to them.

Martine: A few years ago, I used it to brush up on my Italian and Loved it! I road-tested the French version and am fully enthused.
I particularly liked that I could perform a test to determine my level to start which brought me to the reinforcement levels. I feel that most French immersion students in grades 3 and up should select advanced and perform the test. You then have the option of selecting where you would like reinforcement (like the dreaded prepositions!) I love that it mixes up reading comprehension, pronunciation and writing with cute graphics and great user interaction. It is very easy to use and engaging… plus it send you a reminder everyday to do your lesson, definitely a plus!
I feel this app is definitely worth the 10 minutes a day. Overall I feel this would be a great choice for French immersion students trying to maintain or enrich their French…. Okay, this one is my favourites!

The app cost: Free for most of the features

The ratings: 4.5 stars on iTunes.

2- Learn French With Babbel 

The pitch: We teach languages with a focus on everyday conversation, so it’s relevant, practical and helps to get you talking with confidence. With 50 millions users, this app is one of the most widely used.

Martine: This app allows you to perform a test prior to creating an account and choose the beginner or advanced level. French immersion students should select the advanced level as I felt the progression was very slow and they could easily tackle it.
I like that it requires to user to speak back to the phone to verify pronunciation but I didn’t like that it forced me to pronounce “non” with a Parisian French accent rather than how I usually say it as a Quebecer :). Every listening and speaking activity uses Parisian French pronunciation. It mixes up listening, reading and writing in a pretty effective way but be aware that you must download the lessons one by one so for those cell phone users who are tight on their storage, that may be an issue. For some of the matching and fill in the blank activities, users can simply use process of elimination to get through, which I feel is less effective to learn a language.

Overall I feel this would be a good choice for French immersion students trying to maintain or enrich their French.

The app cost: free to start

The ratings and reviews: 4 stars on iTunes

3- Gus on the Go  

The pitch: Explore a new language with the original Gus on the Go language app! With 10 interactive lessons, engaging vocabulary reviews and delightful games, learning a new language has never been this fun! Available now in 30 different languages in the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.
This app is appropriate for beginner learners, French immersion students age 4 to 6. This program is focused on learning with stories.

Martine: This app has nice graphics young children age 4 to 6 will enjoy. The app does not require you to create an account, which is nice, but it also does not provide instructions as you navigate the activities, and so you must figure out what to do by guessing and clicking around. The level of French presented is appropriate and the graphics are fun. It also does not require the child to speak to confirm the pronunciation. A user can pass the first few levels simply by moving from screen to screen. In my opinion this makes it a much less effective tool but it might be a good one to start with to engage young learners as they will have fun with it, especially since it is free.

The app cost: Free for iPhone but $4.99 on Google Play

The ratings and reviews: Amazon: 4 out of 5 stars

For the older students:

4- Mango 

The pitch: Mango languages creates a lovable language-learning experiences for language fanatics worldwide. We believe in enriching lives with languages and culture. And we like to have fun. Happy learners around the globe have used Mango to learn new languages, connect with new cultures, and broaden their horizons.

Martine: This app is definitely for older children or their parents. Only 1 of the themes is geared to children. The other 2 which are romance and wine/cheese are more appropriate for adults. Teenagers will like the microphone function that displays your recorded voice graph with the target voice graph, and then will repeat your voice overlaid on the target pronunciation. It also has a function to see the literal translation versus the understood translation which is a good example for anglophone to understand the problem with literal translation. This app was definitely created from the perspective of an anglophone.
You can give it a try before creating an account which I like. The downside here as well is that you must download lesson by lesson so if storage is an issue, that may become a problem. I was not asked to test my level so I began with: “Good morning, how are you” which I found a bit annoying but not a big show stopper.
Another interesting aspect is that their website has a lot of resources to purchase.

The nice thing about this app is that it is used and available for free at most Canadian libraries – find your local library: http://mangolanguages.com/libraries/find-mango/

The app cost: Free to download (with library subscription)

Ratings and reviews: Not available.

5- FluentU 

The pitch: This app is different from most others because it is video based. It claims to allow to you to learn words in the real context and with engaging and entertaining video, that will keep your attention.

Martine: This one is a bit annoying. Users must create an account and enter a preferred payment method. The onus is then on you to cancel it if you do not like it otherwise, it will charge you automatically. I believe this app is more appropriate for older students from grade 6 and up. There are clips of videos with the words below that allow a user to tap on a word to get a very detailed description which is great. It will be engaging to students who can find their favorite song or video and listen to it which may keep them coming back but I believe the cost makes it more prohibitive.

The app cost: $39.99 per month for iOS. It is not available for Android

The ratings and reviews: Not available

Here are a few other “techie” tips:

Settings on kids’ phone: Ask your child to switch the language settings of their Smartphone to French. This is especially impactful if your child has a Siri-enabled iPhone so he or she can hear “her” speak in French!
Don’t forget that all social media platforms can be set to French also, so let them “aimer” et “partager” en français!

Email Newsletter: Get a new French “Word of the Day” directly to your and their email address. You can find them on Frenchpod101 or Transparent Language, Each day, you will receive a new French word in your inbox. At the end of the school day, make it a fun routine to share this word with your child and be sure to ask him or her to use it in a phrase. It is far easier to remember words in context than simply trying to memorize their definitions.

Instagram feed: Get a new French “Word of the Day” directly on their Instagram feed. You can also follow Talk in French on Instagram and get a French word of the day directly to your newsfeed. Ask them to share it with you and try to insert it in a sentence together.

Did you try any of these apps? Let us know how you did and which one is your child’s “fav”!

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