FrenchPod101 Review – Very Good For Visual Learners
My name is David Issokson. I have been teaching French online since the beginning of 2014 and have helped hundreds of students of all levels to improve their French.
Many of my students have asked me about supplementary study material so I decided to have a look at FrenchPod101.
Would I recommend the product to my students?
Yes, if they’re looking for a resource with dialogues, extensive vocabulary lists and audio. No, if they’re looking for a clear and comprehensive introduction and lesson plan covering the basics of French grammar.
After going through the entire FrenchPod101 Premium course I concluded that FrenchPod101 is indeed very good for students in the upper-beginner, intermediate and advanced levels seeking to improve their French with dialogues and vocab lists.
The dialogues in all of the levels are very well written and cover a very extensive and wide range of topics. In the vocabulary section, the lists are very complete and the sample sentences with audio support are a wonderful study tool.
The key area where I believe FrenchPod101 could have done a better job is presenting present tense verb conjugations in a more comprehensive and systematic way.
Getting a strong grasp of the present tense is key for learning the more advanced tenses and this a big area of focus in my private one-on-one Zoom/Skype lessons.
An area where there is lots of room for improvement is a more logical lesson curriculum with an easily table navigable of contents.
Another area where I feel FrenchPod101 might fall short is the Premium PLUS package where they claim to offer access to a private 1-on-1 teacher. Essentially, they’re offering a private messaging service where students can get feedback from a remote teacher. However, these are not 1-on-1 live lessons.
There are two main areas to start from for learning French on FrenchPod101: 1) The Lessons Library and 2) The Vocabulary Lists. In this review I’ll examine both.
What Do The Lessons Look Like?
Here I’ll show you exactly what each lesson within the Lessons Library will look like. The example I’m using here is from the Beginner Level 2 lesson, “Making a Reservation at a French Restaurant”. First you’ll see a podcast. You can listen to the entire lesson which will include a dialogue, translation and explanations.
Below that you’ll find the dialogue written out line-by-line where you can both click and listen to each line individually as well as record your own voice.
Below that you’ll find a vocabulary section where you can listen to words on an individual basis. Below that you’ll find lesson notes which FrenchPod101 has typed out.
At the very bottom of the lesson notes you’ll find an icon to download the PDF.
Overview Of The Lessons Library
After reviewing the entire Lessons Library, you’ll find that you’ll get a total 258 lessons covering 340 assignments and a total 48 hours of audio recordings.
Level 1 – Absolute Beginner Level
The Abolute Beginner section offers 53 lessons with 50 assignments and 9 hours of audio.
I feel that FrenchPod101 is extremely strong is in offering lessons covering basic vocabulary and phrases for beginners.
There are a few sections which I find to be very useful. For example, the “Around The Home” section offers some wonderful short lessons covering very useful basic vocabulary. The “Can Do French for Absolute Beginners” does a great job teaching how to introduce yourself, talking about your family and weather. The “Speaking Perfect French at a Restaurant” does a nice job offering useful for ordering meals.
That said, I feel that FrenchPod101 jumps into more advanced topics such as reflexive pronouns without covering the very basics first. This includes a comprehensive explanation of verb conjugations in the present tense.
Within the “Ultimate French Pronunciation Guide” section, the lesson “Introduction to Perfect French Pronunciation” does a nice job covering the basics of French pronunciation with the international phonetic symbols. While this is a good introduction, I believe very strongly that this best to learn this with a live teacher.
Level 2 – Beginner Level
The Level 2 Beginner section does do a better job laying out the basics of French. To access this section, select Beginner from the Lesson Library and click on Level 2 Start Here. This section offers 80 lessons with 171 assignments and 19+ hours of audio.
While there’s no clear and easily navigatable table of contents you’ll find that FrenchPod101 does a good job covering all the major topics in this section.
These include learning the numbers, irregular verbs être (to be), avoir (to have) and many more, sentence structure including negation, asking questions, possessive adjectives, noun gender and much more. This is section also does a great job going into French culture with lessons discussing French holidays as well as French customs and beliefs.
Level 3 – Intermediate Level
The Intermediate section offers 50 lessons with 47 assignments and 10 hours of audio.
The area where I feel that the Intermediate section is outstanding is its dialogues. Dialogues are particularly useful for intermediate learners and FrenchPod101 offers many lessons in this area.
Particularly, click on “Intermediate Season 1” and “Listening Comprehension for Beginners” in the Intermediate section and you’ll find a plethora of French dialogues which will help push your French to the next level.
The intermediate section offers great review of the past and future tenses. In addition, this section offers lessons covering grammatical areas such as comparisons, adjectives, si clauses, reflexive verbs and the subjunctive mood. The French subjunctive can be particularly difficult and FrenchPod101 does a good job offering a fun dialogue with in-depth explanations.
Level 4 – Upper Intermediate
The Upper Intermediate level offers 25 lessons with 24 assignments and five hours of audio.
There are two sections here which I find to be particularly useful. If you click on “Business French for Beginners” you’ll find a 25 dialogues which pertain to business related phrases and vocabulary.
One dialogue that’s a lot of fun covers job interviews in French. If you click on the “Upper Intermediate” section you’ll find another 25 fun dialogues which will further help you to interact with French people.
Grammatical areas covered in this section include: Using the conditional for polite requests and si phrases, relative pronouns qui and que, demonstrative pronouns (celui), subjunctive, imperative, imperative with reflexive verbs, present participle and comparisons.
Level 5 – Advanced
The Advanced level offers 50 lessons covering 48 assignments and three hours of audio.
I would strongly recommend this section for a more advanced student as it offers an extremely wide variety of dialogues covering many topics. Such topics cover holidays in France, regions of France, shopping and eating out, French TV shows, rail travel, contemporary art, the game of petanque and politics
The Bonus Section does not offer much new material for learning French. However, you’ll find that the “Monthly Review Video” section offers some great videos offering tips and suggestions for how to improve and speed up your learning.
Vocabulary Lists & Flashcards
FrenchPod101 does a great job presenting vocabulary lists. There is very wide range of lists and the lists tend to be comprehensive and fun. Topics covered range from useful and common nouns, travel/vacation words, daily routine, health, shopping, weather, the home and much more.
Under each list you’ll find an audio icon next to each vocabulary word. Also, what’s very good is that FrenchPod101 gives lots of example sentences with audio for many of the words.
Under the vocabulary section you’ll also find a Flashcard buidling section. Here you can create, customize and review your own vocabulary lists.
How much does FrenchPod101 cost?
FrenchPod101 has three basic monthly subscriptions: Basic, Premium and Premium Plus. Innovative Languages, the company behind FrenchPod101 offers a 60-day money back guarantee as well as the option to cancel your subscription at any time.
- Basic – $4/month. Includes complete lesson access with in-depth lesson notes.
- Premium – $10/month. Complete lesson access with HD videos and many more tools such as voice recording, flashcards and interactive quizzes.
- Premium PLUS – $23/month. Complete lesson access, all the tools as well as personalized 1-on-1 teacher access.
What exactly do I get for Premium PLUS?
Premium PLUS costs $23/month. Essentially, Premium PLUS is a tool where you can send messages to a remote teacher using the My Teacher messenger tool. This isn’t live chatting through Zoom or Skype and FrenchPod101 currently does not offer such a service.
That said, students can submit written, audio and video files and the teacher will provide feedback and explanations. Teachers check their inboxes up to five times per week and provide responses.
Furthermore, Premium PLUS offers an option where you can receive weekly homework assignments which are relevant to the material begin studied. Some of the homework assignments are auto-graded while others are hand-graded by the teacher.