Learning French requires perseverance, hard work, motivation, and daily practice. The best daily practice is language immersion and being forced to speak French in everyday life situations. But is that really the only way to reach your goals?
The answer is simple: definitely not! Luckily, technological advances have given us the possibility to learn through great software tools that offer students time, flexibility and an endless amount of information.
Language learning software is a great innovation, but as with any other product, we have to know what to look for before jumping into French learning software. By considering everything that is needed to learn a language quickly and effectively, it's possible to develop a list of the top characteristics needed for the ideal French learning software program.
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This list can help to be your "checklist" for finding the perfect French learning software. Let's take a look at the top language learning software characteristics:
No great achievement ever happens overnight, and learning French is no different. In order to learn French fast, you first need to make smart, realistic goals to help yourself organize your time and plan your studies.
Your French language learning software should help you do this by allowing you to set measurable daily goals and track your progress. It should provide an easy-to-use structure that helps you to achieve SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals.
The more motivated you are to learn French, the easier, faster and more fun it will be to learn. Your language learning software should help you stay motivated.
The best language learning software should be interactive, fun, engaging, and maybe even a little competitive to help keep you motivated. Ideally, it should include a way to connect with other learners (like a forum) to share in your language learning adventure.
Connecting and communicating with others is a great way to keep us motivated and accountable for our language learning progress. It's also very important that your software tracks your progress so you can see how you’re progressing and feel good about yourself, which will help to keep you motivated, dedicated and on the right track.
Learning French is a never-ending task, so it’s essential to set goals from the very beginning so you don’t get frustrated and you can better measure your achievements.
The ideal software should break down the process of studying French into different levels so you know where you are at every moment.
One of the greatest contributions of computer-based learning is that you no longer need to be in a classroom to interact and listen to other people speaking French. The ideal French learning software should provide you with a variety of engaging, interactive activities that help you improve your listening and speaking skills.
A language-oriented forum or chat is also a great tool when it comes to encouraging students to interact and put what they’ve learned into practice.
Every student is different. Learning French is not the same for a native Chinese speaker with no previous experience in foreign languages as it is for a native English speaker who is fluent in Spanish and has a degree in translation.
Also, a student whose goal is to travel to France with her family won’t need to study in the same way as a student who needs to focus on business-oriented French.
Language learning software should adapt to any situation and give learners the possibility to manage their own learning process according to their needs and learning styles.
It should provide a wide variety of activities and promote flexibility to suit the student's goals, mood, and energy level as they study.
The best French learning software should help you learn vocabulary, grammar, and culture while listening, speaking, reading and writing. None of these elements should be neglected, and they should all be balanced in your study program.
Ideally, there should be voice recognition technology to help you practice speaking and your program should include interactive listening, reading, and writing lessons. Vocabulary should be presented in context and you should be able to study it with tools that allow for its repetition, such as flash cards or your own personalized online notebook.
It's amazing how many language learning programs avoid explaining grammar topics and neglect teaching culture, when these two topics are incredibly important when learning a language.
The majority of language learners don't just want to memorize words and sentences, but want (and need) to know the grammatical rules in order to be able to form their own sentences. Similarly, culture and language go hand-in-hand, and understanding the culture of a people can help you better understand and appreciate their language.
Make sure that your language learning software explains grammar and teaches culture.
Quality is not an option when it comes to learning French. Studying a language is a time-consuming and tricky process, and you should be able to take advantage of the best possible tools. That's why language learning software isn’t something you want to buy at the dollar store during your lunch break!
Make sure the program you choose is filled with audiovisual and written content and gives you all the tools necessary to succeed. When it comes to learning languages, it's worth investing a little extra to have high-quality materials that you can use for every aspect of the learning process.
Who wants to learn how to say “my tailor is rich” in French? If you hardly ever say that in your native language, why should those be your first words in French? Unfortunately, a lot of language learning software doesn't take into account the practicality of the vocabulary you're learning.
The best language learning software should teach the most practical words and structures first. Many studies have proven that we only need about 5% of the words present in a language to be able to interact in 95% of all situations. The ideal language learning software should take advantage of this by helping you to reach fluency the practical way by learning the most practical and frequently used words, phrases, and grammar first.
You won't be a French beginner forever, and the ideal language learning software should include all levels from beginner to advanced along a measurable scale.
It should also keep in mind that we all learn differently, and should cater to as many different learning styles as possible in order to accommodate every type of learner. That means that lessons in all topics should include a variety of visual, audio, verbal, logical and even physical activities to help everyone learn.
Since the biggest advantage of French language learning software is the flexibility that it offers students regarding learning time and place, why not make the most of this fantastic benefit?
The perfect language learning program is one that you can access online from anywhere, without the inconvenience of having to carry books around.
The ability to access lessons from anywhere through a phone app is another vital characteristic to look for in a software. That way, you can study anywhere and anytime you have a free moment.
There are two common pricing structures with software:
Now that you have a checklist for what to look for in French language learning software, you only need to search online and find what best fits you. But before you go browsing through Google, don’t forget to take a look at our own Rocket French course!
Bonne chance !