An effective method for learning French is to watch French television programmes or movies. You can use this option to improve your overall listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills while enjoying your favourite television programs. Nonetheless, it is necessary to choose French programmes that can help you achieve your goals. You could, for instance, watch popular talk shows or news broadcasts in the language if you want to develop your listening skills. On the other hand, if you wish to improve your vocabulary and grammar, watching movies and television shows with well-written dialogue will be more beneficial.
What's more, watching movies can be a great way to make new friends. If you are interested in making French friends, try watching French movies with them!
How can I learn French by watching TV shows in French?
One way to learn French by watching TV shows in French is to subscribe to a streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime that includes the original language versions of these shows, as well as English subtitles. It is a reliable resource offering a variety of genres (comedy, family, work, love, drama).
There are a few things that you can also do to make learning French with movies more convenient. Here are 13 tips to make learning French through movies and TV shows easier:
1. Watch movies with subtitles
First, watch films with subtitles if you do not have strong speaking skills yet. This way, you'll be able to understand what's being said and practise your pronunciation at the same time. Before watching, be sure to check if the film has subtitles in your spoken language.
Using subtitles while watching French movies can help you learn the target language and expand your vocabulary. Additionally, you will gain a deeper understanding of French culture while improving your speaking skills.
2. Watch movies with a friend
Watching movies with a friend can be fun and helps you practise your conversational skills in French too! Bring along a French-speaking friend to help you out and have a good time.
3. Practice your pronunciation
There's nothing more frustrating than trying to learn a new language and not being able to pronounce it correctly. Practise pronouncing words by speaking them loudly or using apps such as your phone's recorder.
4. Examine the parts of the movie you didn't understand
You might not be able to understand the French language in a movie for many reasons. One of the most common mistakes that learners make is translating sentences word-for-word rather than understanding the context behind them. This can be especially difficult when listening to dialogue, since sounds often change depending on what's being said at any given time.
Another common issue is pronouncing vocabulary correctly – if you're not familiar with how each sound should be made, it will be difficult to understand what's being said. Also, if you're not used to reading in a foreign language, you might have problems with comprehension because there are often multiple meanings behind the same words.
For you to become more fluent in French, you must analyse the context of each sentence and figure out how best to approach vocabulary and pronunciation challenges. With hard work and practice, learning this language can be enjoyable and rewarding!
5. How to choose the right French movie for you
Though a good film can help you learn French faster, it can also make learning French difficult for beginners as some films are more difficult to understand than others. When selecting a movie, consider both your fluency level, the year, genre and the type of material you want to learn. Check out our FAQ page if you're not sure of your fluency.
For example, many older films from the 1950s and 1960s would be considered classics. Some recent releases, on the other hand, may deviate from traditional grammar and syntax rules. As a result, non-native speakers may find these films difficult to comprehend. It is also possible that someone who is not from France or Quebec will have difficulty understanding the expressions and dialogue used in modern films. If this is the case, you may need to read the subtitles or listen several times to fully comprehend.
In general, films with simple language, humour, and tourist-oriented scenes (e.g., "Les Choristes," "Kirikou et la Sorcière") are appropriate for beginners.
Movies with more complex language and scenes depicting realistic situations (e.g., "Les Intouchables," "Amélie") are suitable for intermediate students.
Students at the advanced level will benefit from movies with more complicated language and scenes dealing with intellectual issues or French culture (for example, "Le Père Noël est une Ordure, Astérix et Obélix (mission Cléopâtre)").
See this article for our movie recommendations.
6. Switch up the movie’s language
If you have trouble understanding the dialogue, you could try watching a French film with English or French subtitles. This way, you can read along as needed while still getting the full cinematic experience.
This method will also help you improve your pronunciation so that every word is correctly pronounced. Mastering this language can be easier than ever with practice!
7. Writing down the newly acquired vocabulary
When learning a new language, writing the words down helps you remember them. This method can also be used to keep track of what you've learned in the movie and to improve your pronunciation. Take notes on who was speaking, what they were saying, and where it happened.
For example, instead of saying "date," say "dâte" in French. If you want to learn French, you must first master the words and sounds that French speakers use. These expressions and codes will make you sound more like a native speaker.
8. Explaining the meaning
Once you've mastered basic grammar and vocabulary, it's time to learn how to use these words in sentence structures. It is possible that when a French person says "I am hungry," they mean something completely different than when an American says "I need food."
To decode this type of communication, it can help to have a solid understanding of the meaning behind the words and what parts of speech they are. You'd also need to know if it's standard, formal, or familiar. Everything will make a lot more sense if you understand the meaning behind the words.
9. Practising with a native speaker
The best way to improve your pronunciation is by practising with a native speaker. This means that you'll be able to hear the language in its natural environment and receive constructive feedback on your efforts. By working with someone who is already quite familiar with the language, you can greatly increase your chances of success. You can answer questions that have been posted about the film.
Ask your friends who watched the same movie what their thoughts are. Furthermore, you can create a cartoon or comic based on what you've seen in the movie. Use your imagination and be creative!
10. Retelling episodes
Retelling episodes from popular French shows or movies is another simple way to improve your French. Text, chat online or write a blog post to share your thoughts on the film with your friends. Perhaps you could tell a story of Coco Chanel in French or recount an episode of "The Office" in French. You could also narrate an episode of a popular drama series, such as "Breaking Bad," or a comedy film, such as "Les Intouchables." Not only will it offer you practice speaking the language in a natural setting, but it will also help you understand how specific expressions are used in different situations.
The options are limitless!
11. Pause and repeat
Look up each landmark or city in the film to discover more about it. It's also a good idea to repeat anything to yourself a few times when someone says something meaningful or fascinating to you. As a result, you are more likely to remember it the next time you see it.
12. Consecutive translation (from French into your mother language and from your mother language into French)
If you come across a word in a French movie that you do not know the translation for, pause it and look it up. Afterwards, translate it into your mother tongue (or another language you are familiar with) so you can better understand everything on screen. The benefit of doing this is that it will improve both your vocabulary and your French fluency.
Image credit: Depositphotos.com
13. Watch at a Slower Speed
For educational purposes, you want to watch your favourite movie at a slower speed. In this situation, use the following French conversation practice exercises to help explain your decision and provide some helpful tips.
French conversation practice with movies
The following French conversation practice exercises will help you to improve your French conversational skills.
First, choose a movie that you would like to watch and then try the following dialogue samples with a friend or family member.
Practice A: Asking someone about their favourite movie
1) What is your favourite movie? (Quel est votre film préféré ?)
My favourite movie is… (Mon film préféré est…)
2) Would you like to watch the movie or listen to the audio version first? (Voulez-vous regarder le film ou l'écouter en premier ?)
I would like to watch the movie first. (J'aimerais regarder le film en premier.)
I'd like to listen to the audio version first. (J'aimerais écouter la version audio en premier.)
3) Did you enjoy the movie? (Aimez-vous ce film ? Avez-vous apprécié le film ? Le film vous a-t-il plu ?)
Oui, j'ai adoré ce film ! (I loved this film!)
C'est bon ! (It's good!)
Non, pas vraiment ! (No, not really)
Je ne sais pas. (I don't know.)
4) Would you like to see my favourite movie? (Voulez-vous voir mon film préféré ?)
Oui, ça me ferait plaisir! (Yes, I would love to!)
Non, peut être une autre fois (No, maybe another time)
Practice B: Retelling an episode on the hero’s behalf
Imagine that you are a close friend or relative of the main characters in the movie. You want to hear all about what happened during specific scenes, but you don't want to ruin the suspense for your listener. In this case, the following French conversation practice tasks will assist you in narrating these moments without ruining the experience.
1) Can I borrow your phone so that I can show my friend what happened when I saw my favourite movie? (Pouvez-vous me prêter votre téléphone pour que je le montre à mon ami/amie ce qui s'est passé lorsque j'ai vu mon film favori ?)
2) Can I get a copy of that movie so that I can watch it again? (Je veux une copie du film pour qu'on la regarde à nouveau.)
3) Do you remember what happened at the end of the movie? (Est-ce que tu te rappelles ce qui s'est passé à la fin du film ?)
Oui, je me souviens. (Yes, I remember)
Je ne me souviens pas ! (I don't remember!)
Je ne me rappelle pas ! (I don't remember!)
4) Can I see the movie again? (Je peux voir le film une nouvelle fois?)
Tu ne peux pas. (You can't.)
Bien sûr, tu peux. (Of course, you can)
5) What happened during this scene? (Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé durant cette scène ?)
Je me souviens que … (I remember that…)
Je me rappelle que … (I remember that…)
Je ne me souviens pas ! (I don't remember!)
Je ne me rappelle pas ! (I don't remember!)
There are many ways to learn French through movies. One way is to watch films in their original language, and then try to understand what the characters are saying by imagining the scenes as if you were watching them for the first time. Another way is to watch dubbed versions of films in French, which can be helpful because it allows you to follow along without having to strain your vocabulary too much. Finally, you could also take a course specifically designed to help you learn French through films. Whatever method you choose, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to learn. French is a difficult language to learn, but with persistence and effort, it’s possible!
About the author
Stephanie has a knack for making language learning and teaching fun and engaging. She holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor's Degree in French Studies and is fluent in three languages. The writer has lived in France, Ghana, and Canada, and enjoys reading, travelling, and writing about her adventures.