App review: Living Language (French)

Posted on 14/10/2011


There is a plethora of apps available for learning French. More or less randomly, I chose to have a look at Living Language.

You get three “lessons” in the free package, which is just enough to get a taster and figure out if this app is the right choice for you. The full app, which costs $19.99 – about the price of a textbook – includes 10 lessons in “essential French”, 20 in “intermediate French” and 16 in “advanced French”. The terms are a little misleading – the grammar and vocab in all these lessons would be contained in a beginner’s book like my favourite textbook, Facon de Parler.

That aside, it’s a neat little package, and definitely worth the investment. Each lesson starts with an intro explaining what you will learn, some vocab, presented on well-designed “flash cards” and including an option to hear each word spoken, and some grammar, concisely and succinctly explained. There’s also a conversation – though it seems to play one side of it, followed by the other, which I can’t quite figure out – and finally games.

I thought at first that the word “games” was a way to make “exercises” sound more appealing – and it is, in a way, but there are bubbled to pop and dragons to slay and words to search for. So they really are “games”.

It finishes with a “recap” of the unit.

This isn’t an app to dip in and out of – unlike the For Dummies apps, which you can pick up for a few minutes’ worth of revision exercises. This app is a genuine alternative to a textbook: to get the most from it, I’d suggest sitting down expecting to spend at 30 minutes to an hour going through a unit. Recommended as a good jump-start.


— for more hints and tips on language learning, buy Conquering Babel: A Practical Guide to Learning a Language here in the US and here in the UK.
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