The five best French vocabulary apps

The five best French vocabulary apps

by Laura Jones

Updated February 21, 2023

Are you looking for a simple way to expand your French vocabulary? Expanding your vocabulary in a foreign language is a life-long endeavor and, luckily, there are some excellent French vocabulary apps that are designed to make it easier for you, whatever your level. Let’s be clear, spending ten minutes a day learning vocabulary from an app is not going to make you fluent in French; it’s just impossible. But it can be one of the essential building blocks on your journey to fluency. Or, it can be an entertaining way to learn how to ask for a glass of wine next time you’re in Paris.

Here are my picks for the best French vocabulary apps to help you grow your vocabulaire français.

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1. Memrise

By making flashcards digital, Memrise uses a tried and tested technique for learning vocabulary but turns it into an interactive and – dare I say it – a fun experience. The app will present you with vocabulary and phrases in French written on the screen and spoken out loud to help you learn the pronunciation. The fun part? You can click on the help me remember button and you’ll see user-generated pictures to help you create a mental image to remember the word. 

The scientific, memorizing part? By showing you new words more frequently and older ones less often, Memrise employs the spaced repetition technique to make your learning efficient so you don’t waste time repeating le chien and le chat over and over. The free version of Memrise is enough for most users and covers a huge range of topics in French.

2. Drops

For visual learners, Drops is an incredible app to learn French vocabulary. It’s both colorful and designed as a game –ood start! It works by first showing you and letting you listen to a word in French and English alongside an image. Then, while you’re practicing this word, it shows you the word only in French and asks you to match it to the right image. This is an effective way to discourage vocabulary translation and it makes you think in French. Like Memrise, Drops uses the spaced repetition system to personalize and optimize your learning. 

The free version of Drops is great but if you want to get rid of the adverts and have unlimited access to the app, the premium version is €5 per month for a year. 

3. Anki

Anki is another free flashcard-based app and is one of the best apps for French vocabulary because it’s customizable. Prefer learning about art over animal husbandry in French? Create a deck of words to skip the cochon d’inde and go straight to the artistes. Anki also lets you download a deck from other users if you prefer that. Combined with its use of spaced repetition, this personalized approach to learning French vocabulary means you’ll progress quickly, learning about what you love. Anki is free for Android users.

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4. Linguee

A bilingual dictionary is indispensable when you’re trying to learn vocabulary but no one wants to lug around a huge paper tome all day. So, you’ll need to download a dictionary app. While there are a lot of choices out there, basic dictionary apps are sometimes unhelpful because translating just one word doesn’t give you its meaning in context. Linguee is my pick for a French dictionary app because it goes beyond just words and has a huge library of phrases so you can see the vocabulary as part of a whole and understand it more easily. Keep this app open while you’re listening to your favourite French podcast or watching a thrilling TV series.

5. Lingvist

If you want to continue the theme of learning words in context, Lingvist could be the best app for French vocabulary for you. Using this app, you’ll first get a word in a sentence and then later have to fill in that word, so you basically learn the entire sentence and how to use the word grammatically correctly without actually learning grammar. From food to travel, there are a lot of topics in this app. Lingvist is not as flashy looking as some of the other apps on this list and it’s not free; it costs €6.67 per month for a year’s subscription.

So, what are the best apps to learn French?

Why not download one of these apps today and give it a try? Whether you choose Memrise’s massive library, the colorful Drops or stick with a traditional dictionary app, you’re sure to give your French vocabulary a boost. Just a few minutes a day with these vocabulary apps can make a real difference to your word bank, no matter what your reason for learning French is.

Learn languages at your pace

Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.

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