Apps are a great way to learn and practice French – when you can find good ones. Here are 4 that you’ll want your kids to try. [They will like them too!].
French language learning for toddlers
Fun factor: good
Language-learning benefit: good
Price: Free version includes 2 out of 7 categories (full version is $2.99)
Best for: Ages 6 and under, beginner level
Overview: 7 language themes, with 4 activities for each one: Learn, colour a picture, do a puzzle, play a game. This app has good audio so pre-readers can use it easily. Every time your child taps on the picture, the app will say the French word for that picture. In the colouring section, it also says the names of the colours, helping kids learn those words too.
Why it’s on this list: A really good introductory app for younger kids. You can try the free version and see if your child likes it before getting the full version. I definitely recommend you give it a try if your children are 6 or younger.
Fun French by Studycat
Fun factor: excellent
Language-learning benefit: excellent
Price: Free version has one trial lesson (colours) with 6 games, plus a different game is unlocked each day
Full version: If you do an in-app purchase (ios), it will cost you $17.99 for an additional 40+ games (8 topics, about 5-6 games each). However, if you buy the education version, you get all 9 topics including the free one (5-6 games each) for $13.99
Recommendation: try the free version, then get the full version separately if you like it by clicking here. $4 cheaper than an in-app purchase.
Full version on Google Play is $9.05.
Best for: Ages 3-10, either beginner or with basic knowledge wanting review
Overview: The free version has the games for learning colours unlocked: memory, balloon tapping, colouring mixing on a palette, tetris-type game, move a car to trace letters to spell colour words in French, and a voice recording/repeating activity. The games were fun and interactive. The audio was really good – reinforcing the words with each tap, and enthusiastic as well. The games are unique for each topic, which will keep your child interested. I only tried the free lesson, but looked through the games for the locked topics. I would have purchased the app myself if I had found it a few years ago.
Possible issues: I had trouble getting the voice recognition part of the app to work. For each topic, one of the activities is to repeat back simple sentences. It didn’t seem to like my voice – kept showing that I had 0% correct – ha! However, it didn’t stop the progression – just kept moving on to the next sentence, which saved a lot of frustration. Maybe you’ll have better luck with it, but even if you don’t, there are enough other activities in this app that make it very worthwhile. The price is a bit steep for all the activities, but then again there are 50 games to play so perhaps it’s not as bad as it looks.
Why it’s on this list: A fantastic app for language learning and fun. Good age span, which means you can use it multiple times over an extended time period.
Fun factor: medium for a few words at a time, then gets repetitive
Price: free (contains ads, but they weren’t disruptive)
Best for: children who have the basics down (animals, colours, etc.) and have some idea of how to spell – this app can give them some spelling practice along the way. There is no audio pronunciation of the words, so the ideal player would have heard the words numerous times before, and is just looking for a way to practice them in written form.
Overview: A picture appears with a hint in English at the top as to what it is. To pass, you must type in the word for the picture in French, correctly spelled. The letters to choose from are at the bottom. When you get an answer right, you earn game dollars. If you need to reveal a letter as a hint, it costs you some game dollars.
Why it’s on this list: This app would be a fun way to practice a few words each day, including how to spell them. I would probably limit my kids to 5 minutes at a time or they would tire of the app too quickly.
Play and Learn French
Fun factor: medium
Language-learning benefit: medium
Price: free (contains ads, but they weren’t disruptive)
Best for: Beginner level children who are able to read at least small words in English. The developer says ages 2+, and while it’s true that younger kids can use parts of the app, those who have at least the concept of letters and words will get more out of it.
Overview: 4 games to play. The most useful one is the body parts game where you match up the words on the left to the picture on the right. When you tap on the word, the app says the word out loud so that children who can’t read can at least begin to hear the correct pronunciation of the words. The animal game was fun and somewhat useful – you need to “catch” the correct animal before it disappears off the screen. It would have been better to have audio here as the animal appeared instead of after catching the wrong type, but the app is free so we can’t be too fussy. The ABC game doesn’t have enough audio to be useful and the pictures are too small. The shapes one is completely useless for language learning as you are just associating two pictures that go together. Maybe helpful for logic skills, but not so much for French.
Why it’s on this list: It’s free. Your child may pick up a few words here and there and will be somewhat entertained for a little while. If this were a paid app, I would have excluded it.
SaveIf you're not reading this post in your e-mail, sign up for updates right here and get your free guide to Getting Started Teaching French at Home:
These are all AWESOME apps! Have you also tried Gus French on the iPad? That’s a really good one too that my kids LOVE!
I’ll have to check that one out. Thanks!