Are you interested in learning the beautiful French language? Maybe you already know some French and want to improve your skills. Or, maybe you’re hoping to travel to a French-speaking country one day.
Whether you want to learn French for personal or professional reasons, or even just for fun, there are many offerings out there that can help get you started on your French learning adventure. Some people who enjoy independent study opt to use a traditional language textbook for learning French, while others go for the more modern approach of using an app to learn the French language. Others prefer to use a French tutoring service. Another approach is to take lessons online.
Online classes can be live, one-on-one or group lessons, and they can also be self-paced sessions that you complete on your own. Here, you'll discover the best online French classes to find the one that best fits your needs.
The 9 Best Online French Classes of 2020
- Berlitz: Best Overall
- FrenchPod101: Best Budget
- FIAF: French Institute Alliance Française: Best for Kids and Teens
- Rocket French: Best Audio-Based
- Babbel: Best Dialogue-Based
- Rosetta Stone: Best Immersion-Based
- Frantastique: Best for Humor and Entertainment
- Lingoda: Best Flexible
- Live Lingua: Best for Self-Paced
Best Overall: Berlitz
As one of the oldest and most well-known language schools, Berlitz is known for its immersive, communicative style, using and learning language in a natural way for communication.
The Berlitz corporation has been hosting lessons at language centers for years, but now you can also take its classes online. The French classes are taught live by Berlitz-certified instructors, and you can enroll in either private or group classes.
There's also a program for online self-paced lessons, called Berlitz Connect, that provides the materials and lessons to study on your own, but you can also schedule 30-minute practice sessions with instructors via video call.
A 12-week online group class that meets twice a week for 90-minute lessons costs roughly $1,620. The self-paced Berlitz Connect program costs about $549 for six months with 10 speaking practice sessions, or around $700 for 12 months with 25 speaking practice sessions.
If you’re looking for formal lessons from a well-established language school, Berlitz is a great option.
Best Budget: FrenchPod101
FrenchPod101 is a French learning system with audio and video lessons that are based on real French conversations. The classes focus on listening comprehension and pronunciation, and the teachers and speakers vary so that you can be exposed to different voices and speaking styles.
A positive aspect of this program is that FrenchPod101 releases new content every week, so its material is always current and relevant. You can start with a seven-day free trial, and after that you can sign up for a basic plan for roughly $4 a month. The basic plan includes unlimited access to all the audio and video lessons and notes, as well as a list of 100 French core words and phrases.
For about $10 a month, you can get a premium membership, which also includes line-by-line audio dialogue for each lesson, 2,000 French core words and phrases, and other tools such as custom word lists, interactive quizzes, voice recording tools, spaced repetition flashcards, an audio dictionary, and a grammar bank.
Finally, for approximately $23 a month, you can have a premium plus subscription, which includes one-on-one access to a teacher who can give you feedback, answer questions, and give you a personalized program and assignments. If you are on a budget and want to get started with basic lessons, the basic membership is even more affordable at roughly $8 a month.
Best for Kids and Teens: French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)
The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is an organization based in New York City that promotes the French language and cultures. It offers French classes that feature an immersive, culturally rich setting, both in-person and online. Online lessons are taught via Zoom by the FIAF’s experienced teachers.
The FIAF offers one- and two-week refresher courses, which would be ideal for someone who needs a crash course to brush up on their French before traveling or starting a new job. A one-week refresher course that meets every day for two hours costs roughly $300, and for the same price, you can take a two-week course that meets for two and a half hours twice a week.
A great advantage of the FIAF is that it also offers lessons that are specifically designed for kids 7 to 9 years old and pre-teens and teens 11 to 14 years old at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
Additionally, the FIAF offers private French lessons for adults, kids, and teens, which can be customized to fit your needs. The hourly rates for private lessons start at about $75. Although these lessons are pricey, they are an excellent option if you’re looking for lessons for teen or pre-teen.
Best Audio-Based: Rocket French
Rocket French is a language learning program based on interactive audio lessons. Each lesson is 20 to 30 minutes long and is accompanied by reinforcement activities like games, flashcards, as well as language and culture lessons. The sessions also use voice recognition, so you can practice your pronunciation.
Rocket French has a mobile app where you can track your progress and keep practicing. The company offers a free trial, and after that you have the option to purchase the program and obtain lifetime access to its materials. There are three levels in the Rocket French program, each costing about $150. However, Rocket French usually offers coupons that reduce the price considerably.
You can buy each level separately or buy two or three levels together as a bundle. Reviewers who enjoy this program claim the lessons are fun and entertaining and said it's nice to work at their own pace. If you enjoy learning by listening and repeating, and perhaps you want the flexibility to do the lessons while walking or doing other activities, Rocket French might be right for you.
Best Dialogue-Based: Babbel
Babbel is a language-learning system that offers 12 different language options. The Babbel method involves learning through conversation and real-life dialogue.
With lessons that are between 10 and 15 minutes long, the company uses realistic scenarios and interactive dialogues to help you learn. Babbel uses the spaced repetition technique to help with long-term memorization, too. The company's system is meant to appeal to both visual and auditory learners.
Other standout qualities are the use of your first language to help you learn the new language and the ability to customize the program as you progress to make it more engaging and based on your personal interests.
Babbel also has an app, which is a great option if you want to learn on the go with short lessons based on real conversations.
Choose from four subscriptions: one month ($13 a month), three months ($9), six months ($8), or 12 months ($7). There's even a 20-day money-back guarantee with your subscription purchase.
Best Immersion-Based: Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone is one of the most popular self-paced language learning systems, offering over 30 languages. The company claims its curriculum is fully immersive, which means that you learn by being exposed to intuitive communicative contexts, replicating the way we learn our first language naturally.
You can access the Rosetta Stone materials on your desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, and the company includes a phrasebook, audio companion lessons, stories, and instant feedback using voice recognition software. In addition, some plans now have the option of live tutoring to practice with a native speaker online.
A three-month subscription to Rosetta Stone French costs about $36 ($12 per month). You can also buy a Rosetta Stone Unlimited Languages subscription for roughly $179 for 12 months ($15 per month) or $249 for 24 months ($11 per month).
However, the best value is a lifetime subscription to Unlimited Languages for a one-time payment of approximately $299. This would be a great option if you are committed to continuing to study and learning not only French, but other languages as well.
Best for Humor and Entertainment: Frantastique
Frantastique is a French program that provides self-paced lessons based on stories with current topics. They are entertaining and humorous, in order to keep you engaged and entertained.
The system consists of a daily lesson that is delivered to your email or to the app. The lessons should take about 15 minutes a day, which is why Frantastique calls it microlearning. Each session includes exercises, videos, text, dialogues, conjugation tests, and mini-lessons. They also include a revision to facilitate long-term memorization, and at the end of each lesson, you can find some interesting cultural content. The company also uses software that can adapt the lessons to the learner’s needs and native language.
Start with a free trial, where you can determine your level. Then, you can decide on a subscription. There are three types of plans: The Basic subscription costs about $24 a month and includes up to five lessons a week, personalized pedagogical content, and authentic cultural references.
The Premium membership costs around $36 a month, and in addition to what is included in the Basic membership, you get access to specialized business episodes and personalization by sector, depending on your interests, as well as priority when requesting help from their technical team.
Finally, you can opt to get a Pro membership, which costs about $48 per month and also gives you access to pedagogical support, which means you can always ask for help from their team. If you don’t have too much time to spend on French lessons and want something sinple, you should give Frantastique a try.
Best Flexible: Lingoda
Lingoda is a European online language school based in Berlin that uses the video platform Zoom to offer group or private lessons in English, German, Spanish, and French.
Its French classes are taught by experienced teachers who are all native speakers and live in all the different time zones, so there are classes available at any time no matter where you live. Lingoda says you should rotate teachers so that you can be exposed to different accents.
Lingoda’s methodology for language instruction is communication-based, meaning you get lots of speaking practice. It also uses what it calls situational training, which means that whatever you learn during the lesson is something you can apply to a real-life situation.
Classes are one hour long, and you can either take private lessons or join a class of three to four students. When you sign up for lessons, Lingoda will send you class materials that you can download and use to practice anytime. You can take a free placement test to see what level you should start at; Lingoda uses the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
Lingoda offers a free seven-day trial, and the pricing varies based on how many courses a week you want to take. The cost for one class a week is about $69 a month ($14 per class), while two to three classes a week cost roughly $159 a month ($11 per class). If you want to take lessons every day, it will cost you approximately $269 a month ($9 per class).
If you’re looking for online private or group lessons and need a very flexible class schedule, Lingoda is a solid choice.
Best Self-Paced: Live Lingua
Live Lingua is an online language immersion school. On its website, you will find 28 self-paced French courses that you can take for free, which are a compilation of courses from the FSI (Foreign Service Institute), DLI (Defense Language Institute), and the Peace Corps.
However, Live Lingua’s main purpose is to offer lessons in 11 different languages with experienced teachers via the online platform Skype. All the teachers are well-trained, French native speakers who can create a customized curriculum to fit your needs.
If you want to test out the service, take a 60-minute free trial lesson. After that, the cost of lessons varies depending on the package you purchase. If you buy between one and nine hours of classes, the cost per course is roughly $29, but the price decreases the more classes you buy.
If you purchase more than 40 hours of lessons, each class will cost you about $25. Live Lingua is a great choice if you want to take online lessons with an experienced teacher, but also want to have access to courses you can complete on your own.
How We Chose the Best Online French Classes
In making our selections for the best online French classes, we analyzed the type of instruction, methodologies and technologies used, cost per lesson, and user reviews. We even chose some options that are self-paced that you can use for independent study. For instance, Frantastique stands out because it's self-paced, story-based, and entertaining.
RocketFrench is a great pick for people who enjoy audio-based programs and want to learn on the go, while Babbel is great for people looking for short, dialogue-based lessons. Rosetta Stone stands out for its immersion methodology, and FrenchPod101 is a great pick because of its low-cost options.
We also picked some classes that you can take live via Zoom or other online platforms. Berlitz is a great option because it is a very well-established language school with a strong curriculum, while FIAF stands out because it offers special lessons for kids and teens.
Another site offering live lessons is Lingoda, which stands out for its scheduling flexibility. Finally, we picked Live Lingua because it is a combination of both worlds: it offers some free self-paced courses, plus live lessons with French teachers via Skype.