Is Fluenz French the best language software out there? With a price tag of several hundred dollars, people in this economy are often hesitant about purchasing a language program which may not provide them with quality instruction. Throughout this review, I will discuss Fluenz French (Lessons 1-5), explain the advantages and disadvantages of the program, then give my own two cents. I recommend reading this article, then checking out Why Fluenz French is better than Rosetta Stone.


Overview
The Fluenz software greatly helps with speaking, listening, reading, AND writing. Fluenz French currently offers 5 levels of French instruction (every disc also includes an audio CD, useful for listening to French in you vehicle). Each level features 30 individual French lessons. The lessons begin with Sonia Gill (or Carolyn Janin), our teacher, introducing the topic. We then listen to a dialogue between real French speakers, and are followed up with an in-depth explanation of everything that just happened. Sonia explains the word constructions, introduces the vocabulary, and conjugates the verbs thoroughly (sometimes, her explanations run ten minutes or more!). We then are introduced to a series of “exercises” which test what you just learned. For example, there is a matching section, a “repeat the words” section, a “type the word in” section, a “pick the correct picture” section (which is probably my favorite), and the list goes on! Once all the exercises are completed, Sonia will debrief you and usually share some sort of cultural tip. The first two levels (discs one and two) cover: introductions, dates/time, numbers, travel situations, emergency situations, sports/hobbies, manners, shopping, weather, leisure/entertainment, and much more

This program is a piece of art.

Effective Learning Fast
What I like about this software is that Fluenz allows you to go at your own pace. The average lesson in Fluenz took me anywhere from one to two hours, thus completing a lesson a day would allow you to keep the material fresh and truly immerse yourself into a language (keep in mind that my formal classes only last 45 minutes to an hour in school). Fluenz uses an extremely beautiful interface, and tons of wonderful photos of France. I actually looked forward to completing the next Fluenz lesson.

Teaching that Makes Sense
Another thing I like about Fluenz is their approach. They teach you as an adult. Which means, unlike Rosetta Stone, they know that adults already have a language, and the best way to teach a new language is by relating it to the one we already know… English! Fluenz also seems to review previously learned information subtly within the “exercises” and throughout the lessons. Sure, you may have just learned “Salut” to introduce yourselves, but Fluenz will also make sure you know “Bonjour” as well. 

One of Fluenz’s “type what you heard” exercises

My last point to make is that the Fluenz language team is extremely helpful (and encouraging!) “Like” them on Facebook to receive the latest updates and installments, tell them about your progress… they want to hear it! If you left a comment about Fluenz, you’d be surprised to find that employees are actually reading your suggestions. 


Potential Problems?
One issue with this product, as great as it is, is that there seems to be a slight bias towards travel situations within discs 1 and 2. Once I recognized the trend, Fluenz “turned me off” a little. Not everybody is learning French for that purpose, so by forcing that frame onto all customers makes a great product less useful. For example, Fluenz never teaches you the French alphabet… that could be very useful if you needed to spell your name or write a name down. Luckily, the software does deviate from “travel mode” within the later discs. Some also say that the pacing is too slow, or sometimes the learner is disengaged from activities for 10 – 15 minutes at a time because they have to watch explanation videos. However, these people can often be seen as the “impatient” learning type, so I’ve disregarded their statements (Yeah, let’s all speak a new language perfectly in 60 days!… spfft). The video comment does hold some weight to it, but, I would recommend that you actually pronounce the words as your teacher does… using that method would ensure more engagement during the videos.


Pros:


  • Learn at your own pace, do the lessons when most convenient to yourself. 
  • Beautiful interface and awe-inspiring pictures make you wish you were in France, now.
  • The discs come  packaged in a neat, little red box. Presentation is very professional.
  • Thoroughness of lessons, tons of exercises. You truly learn with this program.
  • A “challenge mode” can be enabled. Forcing the need to type accents within responses.
  • Five complete discs which increase with difficulty. Beginners can start from square one while more advanced learners can start from disc 2, 3, or 4…
  • Excellent teachers. 
  • Fluenz’s Company and customer support is top notch.
  • A 12-month warranty.


Cons:

  • The software is only as effective as you make it.  If you skip a lot of days, or do not feel like doing all of the exercises, then you’re only cheating yourself! 
  • The software cannot evaluate your speech, only provide you with native speech recordings. You have the ability to plug in a microphone and speak but nobody will be speaking back! 
  • Some dislike the fact that Sonia Gil is not a Native French Speaker. Her French is still good though. Carolyn Janin replaces Sonia in Fluenz 4 and 5 – she is a native Parisian. 
  • Some say that Fluenz is a little too “Tourist” focused (I.e, Fluenz vocabulary is based off of things like giving directions, ordering food, buying a train/airplane ticket, greetings, etc…)

The Verdict?

Sonia Gil showing us how to formulate simple questions

I would highly recommend Fluenz as a learning tool for any leveled French learner. Fluenz puts great care into their product to make sure you come out speaking French like a champion! Now most people usually use Fluenz, and only Fluenz, to learn French. Although you’ll learn French by using Fluenz, I think that using other modes of learning will benefit you the most. If Fluenz is  your supplemental approach to learning French, then expect your language skills to grow. Think about this, do you think you could become “fluent” from 1,2, or even 10 discs of software?   


Other Opinions?
” I just recently contacted Fluenz about a replacement DVD and the Staff was very courteous and helpful. The mailed out a free replacement
 the very next day. I have been very pleased with their service.”

“I purchased and have used Fluenz French levels 1 through 5 for just over a year and a half. The software is excellent and I have found the company’s customer service to be outstanding. For instance, Mac OS X “Lion” was released yesterday, and Fluenz was ready with an update that allows me to used my older version of Fluenz with the new release of OS X on the day it became available. Such service is outstanding! Fluenz was under no obligation to even provide their customers with such an update, given the changes that Apple made in Lion; not only did they do so, but the update was free of charge and available immediately. Fantastic!”
If you are interested in trying Fluenz French for yourself, they provide us with a FREE demo.
You can also look up other reviews on Amazon or the Fluenz Webpage.

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