The French language is one of the Romance languages spoken as a first or second language by an estimated 220 million to 300 million people worldwide. The prevalence of the French language around the world makes it an ideal language to learn for business or personal reasons.
Here at Language Tsar, we’re obsessed with finding the best way to learn French, and have spent hundreds of hours over the years testing different online courses and programs. FrenchPod101 is one of the more well-known courses out there, but is it worth it? In this honest FrenchPod101 review, we attempt to answer that very question!
FrenchPod101: The Basics
Signing up for FrenchPod101 grants you a free lifetime account and a free trial 7-day Premium subscription. You then have the option of upgrading to three different subscription levels including Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS. Each subscription builds upon features of the previous subscription with features like:
FrenchPod101 offers five levels of expertise including Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. FrenchPod101 lessons can be revisited as many times as needed until you are comfortable moving on. You can work as quickly or as slowly as you want to advance through the levels when you are ready.
The methodology of all the Pod language programs by Innovative Language is one of flexibility and student-focused learning, with all the lessons based upon short & digestible videos or podcasts. Unlike most traditional language courses where you have one syllabus to follow and jumping ahead is discouraged, FrenchPod101 works by allowing you to fully customise your own syllabus through the concept of learning ‘pathways’. The program layout and concept can be a bit confusing at first but you’ll soon start to reap the benefits and is in actual fact it’s very user friendly.
From the lesson library you can browse dozens of language pathways that are catered to your level. You can filter by skill type, media type or lesson style.
Once you’ve found a topic that interests you, you can click ‘add to dashboard’ and the pathway will be added to your main dashboard for you to work through whenever you want, and track your progress. This way you can be working through several pathways at once – a great way to study if you are someone who gets bored easily (plus the topics are really fun and interesting!).
One downside to this approach to learning is the fact that you are personally responsible for your own learning and language progression. If you’d prefer a syllabus that is already put together for you that you can simply follow from start to finish then we’d recommend a more comprehensive program. One such program is French Uncovered which has a central story running through the entire course and ties all the language together.
Pros of FrenchPod101
Pro #1: Fun, Relevant Lessons
Both video lessons and podcasts are entertaining and relate to everyday life. Instructors often add their own quick, comedic spins on certain words or phrases to keep lessons upbeat and interesting. You will not find outdated terminology or lessons covering issues that do not pertain to modern life. Instructors are native French speakers, so you can be sure you’re pronouncing things correctly.
FrenchPod101 has this to say about its commitment to cultural relevance:
“Many French teachers who live overseas have been out of the country for a long period of time and can be “out of the loop” on current words, culture, etc. This is another major gap that we fill.
Our lessons are carefully crafted to include current French events, vocabulary usage, celebrities, popular culture, and so-on. While grammar may not change, we know that the nuances of the language change all the time, which is why we release new content every single week.”
Pro #2: Holistic Learning Approach
Not only do lessons focus on proper pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure and tenses, but you will also learn some about French culture in different countries around the world. This holistic approach gives a more rounded view of the language as a whole.
Pro #3: Large Collection of Videos and Podcasts
FrenchPod101 offers one of the most extensive collections of lessons resulting in hundreds of hours of learning potential. On top of the video and audio lessons, you will find lesson notes and transcripts for further instruction. Learning tools like flashcards and interactive quizzes help you test your knowledge and vocabulary as you go along.
Pro# 4: Charismatic Instructors
One of Innovative Language’s strong points has always been their choices of instructors. They tend to be charismatic, friendly and fun, and we’re happy to say that FrenchPod101’s native instructors are as well.
Pro# 5: Downloadable Content
If you love to squeeze in extra language practice into your schedule whenever possible then you’ll be pleased to know that all the content in FrenchPod101 is fully downloadable. This means that you can download all the mp3s, transcripts and lesson notes for when you’re on the go and without wifi. It’s great for extra language learning on lunch breaks, when standing in a line, walking in a park etc. – especially with some of the longer podcasts at the Upper Intermediate and Advanced levels.
Cons of FrenchPod101
Con #1: Very Little Feedback
Unfortunately the basic subscription package has very limited features and does not come with one-to-one instruction or the ability to compare your voice recordings to an instructors. Therefore, it’s difficult to get real feedback on your language progress and the quality of your pronunciation.
Con #2: Oriented for Beginners
Though quite comprehensive for beginning French learners, the advanced level learner who is looking to delve deeper into fluency may find FrenchPod101 lacking. Advanced learners will find it to be more of a review instead of continuing instruction.
Con #3: Lots of Emails
The Pod101 Courses have a slight reputation for being a bit salesy in their emails, and there are a lot of them. That said, you can easily unsubscribe from the emails. Also, having the ‘word of the day’ emails be your daily reminder to study could be useful if you need a little push!
Con #4: Too Much English, Not Enough Immersion
When learning a language it’s important to expose yourself to authentic material as much as possible so you can start to recognise patterns, get used to the sounds, intonations etc. This is very important – rather than memorisation of rules and stand alone vocabulary, the aim is to get to the point where you can ‘think’ in French. When you can simply hear if something sounds right or not, rather than explaining why it is wrong. The only way to get to this point is to immerse yourself in the language.
Unfortunately, we found that many of the videos & podcasts in this course had far too much English being spoken over French – you are constantly jumping and translating between the two languages. Whilst we do understand there must be a balance, especially when explaining complex grammar points, we would like to see more material that is there simply to expose you to more authentic language.
If you prefer a more immersive approach to learning a language, and are looking for a comprehensive beginners course to walk you through from start to finish, then we’d personally recommend French Uncovered (check out our full review here).
Features of FrenchPod101
Dashboard and Learning Pathways
You will access your dashboard upon logging into FrenchPod101. This is where you can keep track of and access all your lessons, change your subscription plan or change your level of expertise. Essentially, this is the control panel of your French studies.
FrenchPod101 offers curated learning paths that are structured to enhance your learning experience.
There are hundreds of other learning pathways, all including similar lessons, for situations like Dating in France, Idioms and Proverbs and Must-Know French Social Media.
FrenchPod101 Video Lessons
The French instructors are energetic and clearly love passing on their knowledge of the language to you. Sometimes they will simply go over French words and meanings and other lessons will offer complete conversations. Pronunciation is slow so you can follow along and words are visible on the screen so you can see what you are saying.
FrenchPod101 Podcast Lessons
Podcasts are structured much the same as video lessons and, like video lessons, include transcripts that you can use to review after the lesson. This allows you to see how the words and phrases you pronounced are spelled. Also like video lessons, audio lessons in lower difficulty levels offer more English explanation, and English use decreases as you move up through the levels.
Additional Learning Tools
- Lesson Transcripts are available at the end of every lesson, video and podcast. These transcripts provide additional information about grammar, culture or proper usage of words and phrases.
- Flashcards use spaced repetition to help you memorize new vocabulary words. You are able to keep track of correct and incorrect words.
- Phrase and Word Lists are available from your dashboard with thousands of useful phrases and common words to help broaden your vocabulary.
- Pronunciation Practice allows you to record and compare your voice with that of the instructor’s.
- French Core 2000 Word List is a list of the most common words that are used in the French language. You can avoid wasting your time on obsolete and outdated vocabulary and instead focus on the words that native speakers use the most (each with sample sentences for context).
- My Teacher is for premium PLUS users only and gives you direct one-to-one tuition with a qualified language tutor. Together you’ll set a personalised self-study plan & schedule, have weekly assignments, constant feedback & a messenger service, record yourself, assessment tests and more.
This is what one student had to say about the premium PLUS membership:
I have been enjoying learning with premium PLUS for a little more than a year now. The teaching program is very well done. I have found it a pleasure to be able to ask the teacher anything relating to the language. I have been able to work on parts of grammar that I did not understand and have the teacher correct them, or get information on what words or expressions are currently being used. I am very happy with the program and really having a good time learning the language.”
Some Example Pathways & Lesson Topics
Curious as to what the lessons actually cover? Here’s a sneak peek of 3 different lesson pathways for the beginner, intermediate and upper intermediate levels:
Pathway: Absolute Beginner French for Every Day (79 Lessons, 5+ Hrs of Video Content)
Content: An fun and fast paced series with a bunch of highly engaging videos covering everything from introductions & complements to break-up lines & slang words. Most lessons have an authentic dialogue where you get to see the words in action, followed by a comprehensive explanation of the vocabulary & grammar.
Who Should Buy FrenchPod101?
Those who are serious about becoming fluent in French will find FrenchPod101 to be an ideal starting point. Additionally, people who will most benefit from FrenchPod101 include those who:
Who Should NOT Buy FrenchPod101
Some programs claim to be ideal for all learners, but the truth is that no single program will work for everyone. In this sense, those who may not benefit from FrenchPod101 include people who:
To give a fair review, let’s compare and contrast a few of FrenchPod101’s closest competitors and alternatives.
FrenchPod101 vs. Pimsleur
The Pimsleur Method is based upon teaching foreign languages in the same way you learned your native language: simply by hearing and repeating it. Pimsleur is composed of a variety of audio podcasts with native French speakers in everyday life situations. It claims to have you speaking at an intermediate fluency level in just 30 days by studying 30 minutes per day. Pimsleur has a flat rate of $14.95 per month.
FrenchPod101 vs. RocketLanguages
Rocket French offers three difficulty levels in lessons and you pay for each lesson level rather than by monthly subscription. Similar to FrenchPod101, Rocket French extensively covers grammar, culture and voice recognition. Rocket French claims to have you speaking on a mid-intermediate fluency level with the completion of all three lessons. The beginner lesson runs $149.95 and there is a significant discount for purchasing all three lessons in advance.
FrenchPod101 vs. Babbel
Babbel is subscription-based like FrenchPod101. Though it offers a variety of videos, podcasts, and learning tools, the collection is not as extensive as you find with FrenchPod101. The goal is to promote conversational French quickly with less emphasis on grammar or culture. The monthly cost is $12.95, but you receive a discount for the more months you purchase.
FrenchPod101 vs. French Uncovered
As we’ve mentioned already, French Uncovered is a single set syllabus language program that has a unique learning methodology developed by it’s founder Olly Richards, known as StoryLearning. This program is heavily rooted in immersion, with each of the 20 chapters first immersing you in the next part of the story and then systematically breaking down the language by cognates, vocabulary, grammar & pronunciation. It’s a very unique form of learning that’s shown to be very effective and enjoyable, with the interesting storyline being a big motivator to help you read on (and listen) to the following chapters. French Uncovered is not cheap, costing a one-time payment of $297 for lifetime access to fully downloadable worksheets, mp3s and transcripts. Use our link to start your 7 day free trial, or check out our full in-depth review here.
How Much Does FrenchPod101 Cost?
The FrenchPod101 prices are based upon a monthly subscription fee.
There are three different subscription levels: Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS.
All levels allow you to access each expertise level’s lesson library, vocabulary lists and find the latest news. Here is a complete breakdown of the subscription plans.
Basic Monthly Subscription $8 $2.80/month (using this link)
- Access on Android, iOS, and computers
- Complete access to lessons
- Extensive lesson notes
- New lessons added weekly
Premium Monthly Subscription $25 $7/month (using this link)
With the Premium monthly subscription, you get everything offered with the Basic subscription plus:
- Line-by-line audio dialogue
- HD video
- Custom word lists
- Interactive quizzes and flashcards
- Grammar and word bank
- Voice-recording applications
Premium PLUS Monthly Subscription $47 $16/month (using this link)
With the Premium PLUS monthly subscription, you get everything in the Premium subscription plus:
- Personalized learning plan
- One-on-one instruction from a French teacher
- Continuing professional assessment
Conclusion: Is FrenchPod101 Worth It?
Overall, we feel that while it’s not perfect, FrenchPod101 by Innovative Language is one of the better ways to learn French at your own pace.
The premium and premium plus tiers include comprehensive lessons covering all aspects French, interactive tools and quizzes, and the option for one-on-one instruction. Serious students of French will benefit greatly from using FrenchPod101.
If you do decide to sign up, make sure to use this link – it not only helps support our website, but also gives you 30% off at the checkout:
Michael has been an avid language learner and traveler for many years. His goal with LanguageTsar is to discover the most fun and effective ways to learn a language. He is currently learning Japanese, French and Indonesian.