Wondering what you can do to help your French language learning child to enrich their French outside of school? A real help would be registering them in one of Camp Tournesol’s many Virtual Classes offered through the Brouillet Academy!
A simpler solution to helping your kids keep up in French is to turn their devices into French teachers! We know that kids love their smartphones, so why not encourage them to allocate some of that time to use one of these awesome 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 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 such as you would get at the Brouillet Academy, but they are a great addition to enhance and enrich your child’s language skills… 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 7 apps that we tried and reviewed!
We hope this helps you support your child’s bilingual journey! Enjoy!
The pitch: Learn a New Language for Free for life! This is one of the top-rated language-learning apps out there. Learning with Duolingo is fun and addictive. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up.
This app will listen to your pronunciation and let you know how you are doing. It builds on the learning you do each day. A typical 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 it’s engaging… plus it sends you a reminder every day to do your lesson, which is 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…. definitely one of my favourites!
Ratings: 4.6 stars on Apple.
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 million 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 the 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 the 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.
Ratings: 4.5 stars on Apple.
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 or 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 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.
Cost: $5.49 on Apple.
Ratings: 4.8 stars on Apple.
For the older students:
The pitch: Mango languages create 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 an anglophone to understand the problems with a 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 deal-breaker.
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.
Ratings: 4.8 stars on Apple.
The pitch: This app is different from most others because it is video-based. It claims to allow you to learn words in a real context with an 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 favourite song or video and listen to it which may keep them coming back but I believe the cost makes it more prohibitive.
Cost: $39.99 per month on Apple.
Ratings: 2.7 stars on Apple.
The pitch: 24 Hours Learn French is an audiovisual app designed to help its users learn the French language through 24 easy-to-follow modules.
Brittney: This is a great app for people who are looking to begin dabbling in French with little to no prior knowledge of the language. This is an offline app meaning you can practice your French anywhere, regardless of phone reception! You’ll only need an internet connection when unlocking new modules. I’ll start off by saying it’s an extremely simple interface that even the most basic smartphone users can follow. There are no bells and whistles, which is nice. The app gives you the first 12 of the 24 lessons for free. You start off with three and unlock modules as you complete them, similar to game levels. If you want to advance into lessons 13 and on, you’ll need to shell out $6.99, which isn’t too bad. If you’re looking for an app to check your pronunciation or practice writing sentences for grammar, this is not the app for you. The modules are strictly list style, in both French and English, with a voice reading off both translations. The voice reads down the list, which can be boring for someone who likes a more engaging learning style. You are able to select and repeat an item as many times as you’d like, just to make sure you grasp it. While this app is no Duolingo or Babbel, it is a good place to start for developing the basics of French.
Cost: First 12 Lessons Free, $6.99 for the full version.
Ratings: 4.2 stars on Apple.
The pitch: This app will transform your iPhone or iPad into an advanced language interpreter that’s always ready and willing to help. Vidalingua boasts extensive databases and advanced features which make it the most comprehensive French-English translator on iOS, though it is also available for other languages.
Review: While this app can certainly assist you in learning the language of romance, it’s definitely not an app that can do the job all on its own. Vidalingua isn’t the end-all be-all of language learning, but it’s a great tool to have in your arsenal to help you become conversational and comfortable speaking French. The app immerses you in real-life situations that you’re likely to encounter on a trip and serves as a great help to help teens and tweens study for their classroom oral exams. Since this is more of a dictionary companion (though it does offer sentence examples, verb conjugation, and a simple quiz) than an app that will actually give you language lessons, we recommend Vidalingua for more advanced French speakers who already have a decent grasp on the language but just need help filling in the blanks sometimes.
Ratings: 4.6 stars on Apple.
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!
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”!
Written by: Martine Brouillet
About Martine: Driven to make an impact in second-language learner children in their quest to become bilingual, Martine Brouillet founded Camp Tournesol in 2001 in Ontario, Canada. The company’s flagship French camps have since become leaders in this market, welcoming tens of thousands of children and spawning sister products servicing these families such as the Brouillet French Academy. Her passion and concern for the environment inspired her to create a new brand of eco-friendly camps, workshops, and summits: Love My Plant. To learn more about Camp Tournesol, visit www.campt.ca
Contact Martine Brouillet at firstname.lastname@example.org | 905-891-1889