Review of: Frenchpod101
Use: French learning podcasts setup as audio lessons. The site also provides learning tools and study helps to go along with their lessons.
Engaging podcasts help you learn words in context. But you'll have to practice speaking on your own
Free content and monthly plans at $4 to $47 per month
Each podcast is around 15 minutes long.
Ease of Use
Digital immersion without the tedious work
Podcasts are sorted by level of difficulty and subject.
- Over 1,200 podcast lessons
- Free content and affordable price
- Lessons are fun and interesting
- Built in flashcard system
I Don't Like
- No speaking required
- Limited community features
Summary: Frenchpod101 features French audio lessons (podcasts) for a monthly subscription fee. All podcast episodes are sorted by level and or topic. You have the option of listening through each level in order or you can explore whichever lesson sounds the most interesting.
More advanced french students may find it useful but it’s really in the beginner and intermediate phases of French learning that you’ll get the most out of the site.
Frenchpod101 can be a novel yet powerful way to learn new vocabulary and grammar rules. It’s also an excellent option for practicing correct pronunciation and listening to native speakers.
Frenchpod101 is available on mobile and not just their site. Via their free app you can access podcast lessons anywhere you have your smart phone.
With basic free content and a 7 day trial (no credit card required) you can try out Frenchpod101 for yourself and see if it’s a right fit for you.
Subscription plans starting at $4 per month (Free plan available too)
Is Frenchpod101 right for you?
If you’re a beginner or middle-level French learner then we recommend you check out Frenchpod101. The majority of the lessons are geared toward these levels. There is some advanced material as well, but if you’re at a higher level of French you may find better value elsewhere.
Because Frenchpod101 is built around the podcast format the majority of its lesson are audio (there are some video lesson too). This makes it a solid choice for anyone looking to get more comfortable with listening to native French speakers.
The lessons are organized around a scripted conversation and also do an excellent job of introducing new vocabulary and grammar concepts.
You also may want to consider Frenchpod101 is you’re looking for an interesting learning tool that you can take with you. All lessons and content are available on Iphone, Ipad, and Android through the Frenchpod101 app.
Each podcast lesson is built around a French conversation. More often than not the conversation is about a grammar point, cultural lesson, or useful French phrase. At the start of each podcast the hosts will introduce the lesson and the topic of the conversation.
Frenchpod101 does their best to keep their lessons relevant to real life. Often the featured French conversations are ones that you could encounter in everyday life. You’re able to walk away from each episode with at least one useful French word or phrase, if not more.
Conversations are natural and interesting
The hosts make an effort to keep things engaging and fun. It’s not uncommon for them to share personal stories, the occasional joke (some are better than others), or an interesting fact about French language or culture. This makes for a nice break from the dry content of most French audio courses.
Tools and Resources
While podcasts are the mainstay of Frenchpod101, the site also has some interesting features to help you get the most out their lessons. In our opinion the most helpful are the flashcards, slow playback, and lesson transcripts (unfortunately these features are not available with a basic subscription).
The flashcards are ideal for reviewing new words. They use a spaced repetition system like in Anki or Memrise. The advantage here though is that you can add new words and make cards with a single click. It can take almost a minute to make a card in Anki or Memrise.
It might not sound impressive at first, but Frenchpod101’s slow playback is a handy feature. You can listen to each from the French dialogues in isolation and (if you want) at a slower speed.
Connecting the sounds to the correct spelling can be an issue in French, this feature is an answer for that. It’s also great if you want dissect the pronunciation of a word.
Having a transcript of each French dialogue might be the feature you end up using the most. I wish it was available at the basic level but you’ll need at least a premium subscription to access them. The lesson transcriptions let you double check the French you hear and make for go review afterwards.
There are also grammar helps, a dictionary, and word lists on the site too. They are helpful, but if you compare them to other free resources on the web they’re nothing special.
There are 3 subscriptions levels to choose from if you want to use Frenchpod101: basic, premium, and premium plus. The more months you pay for up front the cheaper the price is per month and vice versa.
Basic level (recommended)
At the basic level you get the entire podcast catalog. Other than a couple small features (like lesson notes) there isn’t much else at this level.
A basic subscription is $4 per month if you buy 24 months and it can be as much $8 per month for one month. All in all this is the best value. The podcast episode are enough on their own to improve your French.
Premium level (also recommended)
After the basic level comes the premium level. This level opens the doors on all the bonus features, the most important of which is probably the lesson transcripts. Though I prefer the basic level, premium isn’t bad.
It starts at $10 a month if you get 24 months and can be as much as $25 per month if you pay for one month.
Premium Plus level (not recommended)
Premium plus is really the only subscription level I wouldn’t recommend. The price seems a bit steep.
At this level you get everything in the premium level PLUS instruction and assessment from a real teacher. The price tag for this level starts at $22.88 per month for 24 months and can run upwards of $47 per month for 1 month.
Frankly I think you’re better off getting the basic level and using the rest of your money to book a tutor from Italki. It would probably still be cheaper and you’d get more out of it.
Problems with Frenchpod101
You don’t need to speak any French
As with any French course you have to make sure you take time to practice using your French with real people. Audio courses are nice tools but if you listened to Frenchpod101 all day long for months and never practiced what you learned I doubt you’d see much change in your speaking ability.
Lack of community
There’s no way on the site to connect with other French learners. With so many language sites offer communal features you’d think Frenchpod101 could step up their game. It’s always more fun to learn with other people.
Best way to use Frenchpod101
Study & review
If you want to get the most out of Frenchpod101, then I recommend listening to one episode per day. With each episode take any new words and put them in a review flashcard deck. Take a few minutes everyday to review the deck. Do this on a regular basis and your French ability will grow.
Listening & pronunciation
As said before, Frenchpod101 can help you practice pronunciation. Use the slow playback, lesson transcripts, and audio to hone in on the French sound system and compare it to your own accent.
Get the most out of your time
Frenchpod101 is great for filling up the small gaps of time that come up throughout the day. Anytime you have 5 or 10 free minutes you can use their mobile app to get a little extra french practice in.
Alternatives to Frenchpod101
20+ minutes a day
Rocket French is built around recorded audio in the form of dialogues. The dialogues have English explanations and usually teach the language in "chunks" or phrases versus individual words (this is great for conversational French).
The Rocket French method is more structured than Frenchpod101 Overall Rocket French is a comprehensive course that does a good job of incorporating speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing.
Starts at $15 per month
5+ minutes a day
Fluentu is a site that helps you learn a language through native videos. Use in site flashcards, captions, and games to learn new words in context while watching French TV shows, movies, commercials, and more. It's a great way to push your listening skills and vocabulary.
30 minutes a day
Pimsleur is probably the second most popular language course behind Rosetta Stone. Pimsleur is entirely audio based and is specifically designed to develop your conversational skills.
Pimsleur is also more structured than Frenchpod101. Pimsleur is the only French audio course I know of that helps you practice your ability to have conversations in French.
They use a unique and effective question/recall/respond technique to get you on your feet in your new foreign language. With Pimsleur You'll learn a limited but functional vocabulary and have a good sense of pronunciation.
Frenchpod101 can be a powerful asset to your French studies. However, it shouldn’t be the only one in your arsenal. It works best as a supplement to your regular French learning regime. It’s especially good for helping you learn new words and work on your accent.
With a free one week trial (no payment info needed), it can’t hurt to work through a couple podcast episodes and see what you think.