Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Staircase different from other apps such as Duolingo and Babbel?

Duolingo and Babbel are easier to use on smartphone, while the Staircase is best on a laptop.

“I like using Duolingo during commute or when waiting in a line. It requires short attention-span. The Staircase is great to use at home or in class. It requires more focus, and in return it also brings more significant progress.” (Harold, French Learner from Massachusetts)

Duolingo has millions of app users. It is popular but you can feel lonely. The Staircase is a budding community, and you can get in touch directly with the author and get instant feedback.

“My students would complain about Duolingo that the phrases are often useless for “real-world” conversation. I made sure when building the Staircase course, that my students would be practicing the most idiomatic and everyday French.” Léa, author and enthusiastic French teacher

Babbel is good, but you can’t use the course without paying 🙁 But here on the Staircase you can find a selection of completely free courses.

What can I expect to achieve in each episode?

Every course has specific learning goals. See the courses descriptions to see the details.

For instance, in Episode 5 of the Full Staircase course, you’ll actively practice about 15 new French words, and family small talk in a scene between Lana and her godfather Walter.

I wish I could practice my French but I don’t have time to practice this week 🙁

It happens sometimes. When you have a lot on your hands, it is okay to take a break from studying. Just like napping, taking a study break might even be beneficial for your learning.

Can I take the Staircase while also completing a one-on-one class?

Of course! As with any full course, you can choose to use the Staircase on your own as an independent learner, or to use it with your private tutor. Depending on your tutor’s teaching style, you may follow the Staircase course as a curriculum together or practice the course itself.

If your tutor would like a Staircase teacher account, please let her or him contact us here.

Special note for online tutors: during an online class, it is possible to share your screen with your tutor and climb the steps with his or her help. Easy!

Is there a specific course for absolute beginners?

We are building it. It should be ready this Summer 2018. Stay tuned!

Until then, you can take a look at the course “L’Amour, L’Amour!” about every day love phrases in the couple. The level is beginner to intermediate

I purchased the Full Course, “Le Vignoble”. How long will it take for me to complete?

For an intermediate learner, the average completion time is 6 to 7 months. Our fastest climber took 2 months to finish it. Are you ready to break a new record? Let’s start today!

For everyone, the final reward is a printed certificate, hand signed by the author, that you will receive by mail.

How does the experience change from early to advanced levels?

Beginner courses are shorter, and cover essential social situations to get by when you travel or when you move abroad.

The more advanced the course, the more you are encouraged to find your own French voice. You will find a greater variety of idiomatic phrases, slang, and challenging translations. Advanced courses also have a unique feature, which is to encourage the learner go off the beaten path and suggest different translations. We reward the more unique translations by adding them to the “Other Winning Translations” section, which is public to everyone to see.

Is there a way to skip a step and return to it when I’m ready?

I encourage you to climb the course in sequence because every step becomes more difficult anyway. It is possible to skip a step. Just type the words that you know from the sentence, and if the grammar is too hard then you can come back to it later. You can also ask for help in the comments section below.

Are certificates given upon course completion?

Learners receive a badge of completion at the end of every free course.

The Full course “Le Vignoble” is special. Because every episode is a sub-course in itself, you will be receiving a badge of completion when you achieve every episode (for a total of 30 badges) AND the successful climbers who finish the whole course receive a printed certificate by air mail. It is not a Ciep-certified diploma, but it acknowledges course completion at the corresponding Delf (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) level.

Can I give the Staircase as a gift?

Yes, you can! Just share the link with your friend. 

Is there courses available in other languages

We are working on building Spanish and English learning courses. If you think they could help a friend or colleague, why not invite them to follow the official Facebook page, or get the newsletter? The Staircase is also on Instagram @staircasefrench. There’s different ways to get informed with the news