This year I have started to learn French! In school I did a GCSE in French and just about scraped a C, not my finest grade ever. I never found learning foreign languages easy (I could however communicate to you in C#, which country speaks that?) but at the start of the year I wanted to try something new and figured it was about time I had another crack at it.
I began to have a look into my different options; I could go to classes of which their are numerous adult language learning schools but I wasn’t sure heading back into the French classroom was the best shout for me! I’d heard of Rosetta Stone before but £200 seemed quite pricey for what could just be a whim (I wasn’t sure if I’d just give up after a week!)
Out came my phone and an app search was started. The following where the best options I found.
My first thought, “Free? I bet its terrible, or maybe its all about in app purchases”. But surprisingly Duolingo is actually very good! The app is a joy to look at and use, and the ‘quiz with 3 lives’ style that it uses makes the learning quite fun. Even more surprising is that at no point was it prompting me to pay for anything in app, its quite literally free (not like most ‘free’ apps on the app store these days!)
I found using duolingo really helped me start getting going with French (there’s plenty of other languages on it as well) but at times it did feel a bit like being thrown in the deep end of the grammar pool without being given any instructions on how to swim! Being just expected to understand and work out the different suffixes on the words was particularly tricky, I think in a way that’s just Duolingo’s style of learning. Learning by failing until you work it out for yourself.
P.S. For those of you interested I found out how Duolingo plan to make money – they plan to sell translation services to businesses/websites by getting their students to crowd source translate the documents/website text etc. Its a pretty clever idea but I cant help but wonder if they are going to get enough people getting good at the languages in order to do the translating! It looks like they have started to do this now with their ‘immersion‘ section on their website.
Price: Free App – Subscription for content – £53.40 for a year
Now I know above I was complaining about ‘Free’ apps on the app store which actually aren’t free, but I guess in a way they kind of work….
Babbel falls into the not so free category, the app gives you the first lesson for free, but then from then onward you are expected to pay a subscription fee. Babbel was just as easy to use as Duolingo, but what I found really added benefit to me was its more structured lesson format, certain parts of the lesson even explain the grammar to you and more. I felt like this taught me more than Duolingo and I enjoyed the lesson so much that I decided to go ahead and pay for a subscription.
At £53.40 for a year Babbel is a much more accessible price than Rosetta Stone, but as I still wasn’t sure how well I would keep up with my language learning I decided to opt for the 6 month subscription at £29.70.
Almost 6 months down the line and I’m still learning, maybe not as fast as I first planned, but each day I complete the revision Babbel prompts me with via the ‘Review Manager’ and I will do 1-2 lessons a week – often repeating past lessons. Foreign languages have always been difficult for me, but using Babbel and a bit of Duolingo (I still use it, but not as frequently) I am finding myself getting to grips with French. When I was in France recently I even managed to put my beginners French to good use.
I will definitely be buying a longer subscription for Babbel and would recommend you do to, but if you don’t feel quite up to paying just yet, get Duolingo, its free and you have nothing to loose 🙂