Ever wondered how to learn French with movies?
Or... let's rephrase that. Does watching French movies help in learning French?My answer is a resounding oui !
This guide will teach you some tips on how you can effectively use French movies to improve your French. You'll also get plenty of movie recommendations and a FREE e-book, 365 Days of French Movies!
1. Stereotypes about French Movies
If you’re serious about learning French, you would want as much exposure to the language as well as gather insights about the culture. Unfortunately, some people are not at all crazy about French films (to put it lightly), and that’s quite a shame.
There are a lot of stereotypes going around about French movies such as:
These stereotypes are just that—general assumptions—and while some stereotypes make sense, these do not hold true for all of French cinema.
So don’t let these preconceptions make you wary of watching a French movie. French cinema encompasses a wide variety of themes and ideas and there is bound to be some French movies that you’d gladly watch over and over.
If you don’t think so… well, you probably haven’t seen enough French movies yet so be sure to scroll down to the bottom and browse the movie recommendations.
2. How will watching French movies help?
Aside from the new vocabulary that you can pick up from different French films, here are some other ways French movies would help:
Moreover, watching movies is a relaxing and enjoyable activity that would break the monotony of learning a new language. It’s a fun exercise to inject into your French learning routine.
3. Tips on how to learn French with movies
Before we proceed on the steps on how to learn French with movies, here are three prerequisites you should take into consideration.
Choose a movie for your level.
If you are a beginner-level French learner, don’t jump automatically to the nouvelle vague gems by François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. Remember that the French language has evolved from the way it’s spoken in the 1960s and 70s to how it’s spoken today.
So while some movies might be considered classics of French cinema, the words and expressions used may no longer be appropriate in the present.
I suggest that beginners would watch uncomplicated films like:
Action movies are great because even if you could not fully follow the conversations yet, the action will give you more or less an idea of what’s going on.
Also, don’t mix up French films with French-Canadian ones. There are distinct differences in Canadian French and French in France, so the slang and expressions being used also vary.
Pick a movie with subtitles.
If possible, look for movies that have both English and French subtitles. Just bear in mind though that English subtitles do not exactly match the French dialogue word for word.
French subtitles, on the other hand, would help you in getting the spellings and articles correctly which would be important in learning new words that you haven’t come across before.
Watch the movie “actively”.
By actively, I mean you would need a pen and paper or some other writing instrument to jot things down.
4. How to learn French with movies: 7 steps to watch movies actively
The seven steps on how to learn French with movies.
Watch the movie fully without any subtitles.
Go back to the start and re-watch it scene-by-scene: first, with no subtitles.
Re-watch the scene but this time with subtitles.
Pay attention to the vocabulary and the context on how the words were used.
Listen and repeat new words.
Look up the words you don’t understand.
Re-watch the movie until you are confident that you have understood the gist of the conversations and the context of the words.
Just soak up on the story and try to grasp the “feel” of the film.
After you’re done watching it in its entirety, watch it scene by scene to see which words you can grasp even without the help of subtitles. Every time you hear a word you’re not familiar with, write it down
The French subtitles will help you get the spelling and articles used correctly. But if you want to check if your understanding is correct, switch on the English subtitles in your 3rd viewing of that particular scene.
Look out for any idioms and slang, and take note of the grammatical structures used in the sentences. Write down anything interesting you noticed, and be ready to review it later on.
If there are some new words that you cannot seem to pronounce, listen to it and repeat the words and sentences over and over until you get the hang of it.
If there are some things about the movie that are bugging you—slang terms, regional jargons, double meanings, wordplays, and subtle humour that you couldn’t quite grasp—do some research or ask a native French speaker to help you understand and appreciate it better.
Finally, the last step to learn French with movies: feel free to watch it as many times as you want—with subtitles and without.
If you want to take it a step further, this website has a wide range of movie clips, dialogue transcriptions, and quizzes that you can review.
5. French Movie Recommendations: One Movie per Day
So by now you’re probably raring to try watching some French films. But how to start? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Here in Talk in French, I’ve listed down more than 365 French films for you to check out: that’s a movie each day of the year!
There is one article with movie lists for each month. You can check them out below.
Let’s say it’s January 30 now. Click on the link to the January list of movies, scroll down to the date and see what movie is suggested for the 30th. Then go watch it.
Free E-Book: 365 Days of French Movies
There is also a FREE downloadable e-book that you can get for free. It covers all the movie suggestions from January to December. You can store it on your e-reader and simply flip the pages to see which movie is recommended for that particular day.
Want to watch as many French films as you can? Then challenge yourself with one movie a day for the entire year!
6. Movie Recommendations for the Whole Family
Now, if your French is not on an intermediate level yet or maybe you can barely decipher spoken French, feel free to go through the list per month then pick and choose movies which would be more appropriate for your level. As mentioned earlier, this includes children’s movies, animations, or action films.
Here’s a list of children’s films you might be interested in: 10 Child-Friendly French Movies and Where to Watch Them.
7. Other Movie Recommendations
Aside from the lists mentioned above, you can also learn French with movies by watching themes that you like.
In addition, you can also take these short quizzes for some quick recommendations:
There is a French movie for you regardless of your level in French, your taste in films, your age, etc. You can even use these movies to improve your skills in French!
Feel free to browse the list of recommendations above and let us know which French movie(s) you picked.