When it comes to learning a new language, it’s always a wise call to explore a plethora of options. You might as well choose to walk the traditional way, pick up a book, or visit an institute and start learning.
Or, you can watch how natives talk and learn from them as it goes well along with learning from a book or from a classroom scenario.
That brings us to a rather interesting and entertaining proposition—learning French from French movies. You see, doing so will not only help you discover how a foreign language is spoken, but also the fine gestures they add in, the style, the accent, and everything else in between.
Plus, as a bonus, you also get to enjoy a movie and have some good time for yourself. Isn’t that great!
In this post, we mull over the idea of learning French by watching movies, share important tips for beginners and also hand out a list of five movies to watch and learn French, according to skill.
Why Learn French Language through Movies and Films?
You must be very excited already to know the names of the movies that you can watch to master French, but before we get to that, you ought to know why it makes sense.
- It will dramatically improve your engagement- While grammar and diction are the stepping stones to get a grip of any language, the key in communication is how good you engage. And as you watch movies, you will get to witness the interplay of dialogues in French which will help you pick up the traits of a successful engagement.
- It will help you get better with your pronunciation-Ah! French pronunciation. Undeniably, certain French words when pronounced can sound a tad bit fancy (and out of the world, but don’t say that out loud), which can mar your confidence as a non-french speaker. This is where listening to master French artists utter their dialogues will give a first hand knowledge of how to perfect your R’s and T’s. A great tool in this regard is FluentU where you can use any form of content , movies, news reports, even cartoons and transform them easily into effective language learning lessons.
You see, learning to pronounce words in the right way has a lot to do with learning French the right way, or for that matter, any foreign language. As children, humans learnt to talk by simply mimicking the sound they hear from others. With time, when the baby grows into an adult, he is able to comprehend these words. No wonder sometimes the only strong point of difference between two similar sounding words is the sounds of an altered vowel. This is tricky when you are learning a new language because if you get this part wrong, things can get really bad. Thus, it’s always a wise call to learn from the masters.
- It is quite apparent that there’s a movie for every- Another great reason to learn French from watching movies is that you will never be short of titles as you make progress. The French movie industry is as big as Hollywood, if not bigger, and thus there’s a never ending list of movies that you would like to see when you move up the level, from a beginner to an intermediate speaker and then finally a fluent or expert in French language.
How Should You Watch Movies to Effectively Learn French
So, before you start watching the films yourself, you will need to know how to make the most of the time spent. In other words, you will not only end up enjoying a good movie, but also pick up certain traits of learning French.
- Start with a movie that you already know and have watched in English. There are several titles that have been remade in English and also made as animation. This will help you to follow the storyline easily and won’t have to work too hard to go with the flow and can concentrate more on learning how French substitutes for English.
- You probably know this already, but subtitles are your best friend when learning any foreign language from watching a movie. Plus, it will also aid your reading and comprehending skills.
- Always rewind, and as much as possible. This is something you will have to do anyway. Go back, stop and play again so that you understand what and how it’s being spoken.
- Don’t forget to make notes. Chances are you will encounter some really interesting ways people use phrases in French as well as words that you might not have heard before. Also, seek help online, as Google translator (although not to be trusted 100%) does a fair job in deciphering foreing languages to English.
- Set a routine for yourself- After you have started learning French from watching a movie, you will find that it’s quite an accomplishment as and when you get better. However, it is necessary that you set a route for yourself and keep at it. Learning a new language is at par with learning how to drive a car. You skip a few days , you will have to go back to basics again.
The best films to learn French for beginners
Les Choristes (English title: The Chorus)
Where to watch : Netflix DVD
A classic by Christophe Barratier, this movie revolves around the story of a group of schoolboys who go through a journey from doing good deeds from bad to redeem themselves following the advice of their teacher Clément Mathieu. As he regroups the boys by starting a choir, the boys develop a very special relationship with Clement, especially with Pierre, who kind of takes the central character of the movie.
As a French movie, Les Choristes is a pure drama set at the backdrop of a school. Thus, as one can imagine , the language used here is simple and thoroughly conversational. Besides, the movie has a fairly simple plot to follow and ends with a feel good factor which makes it a great watch.
IMDB rating : 7.8
Le Jouet (English title: The Toy)
Where to watch: DVD, and The Toy can be streamed on Amazon Prime
Le Jouet by Francis Veber depicts the finest instance of intense dialogue play as the narrative follows a young boy determined to bring his father on track. He hires a journalist as his sidekick to help expose the wrong deeds of his father and thereby bring forth the storyline to a fine culmination.
You must know that Le Jouet already had a remake in English called “The Toy ”. So, it is perhaps a good idea to watch the English version first and then come back to watch the original and learn French alongside.
“Le Jouet ” demands repetitive watching as the narrative might take some time to absorb and slowly picks up speed as the movie unfolds its plot further.
IMDB rating : 7.4
The best films to learn French for intermediate level
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (English title: Amélie)
Where to watch: DVD
One of the most celebrated French movies of all time, this masterpiece follows the story of a young woman who is shy and awkward in public. Set in the backdrop of PARIS, Amelie, the protagonist, works in a local cafe and takes time to observe people she meets and mull over their sorrows and happiness in tandem. On a self intervening spree, the rest of the movie poignantly follows her kind deeds to make a difference to several lives.
The title role of Amelie is essayed by the famous French actress Audrey Tautou who requires no introduction and also has comedian Jamel Debbouze in a small role. This movie has the right mix of simple as well as intermediate terms that are used in daily conversations in French Thus, as you graduate from being a beginner French learner, Amelie could be the perfect movie to rewatch countless times and be acquainted with such words and conversational styles.
IMDB rating : 8.3
Where to watch: Netflix
If you are familiar with the Fast and Furious franchise in Hollywood, you will definitely love watching this. Taxi is a cult movie in French and often draws references in conversations if you encounter someone driving too fast. It follows Daniel, a pizza delivery guy proud of his fast driving skills and a life turning incident when driving a taxi , thus leaving him with a choice to either lose his driving license or team up with the law to stop a bunch of bank robbers.
The premise of this movie is an easy one as it replaces several dialogues with just action. However, Taxi also embraces the lighter side of French culture and offers a window for an intermediate learner to get a hang of pure breed French humor.
IMDB rating : 6.9
The best film to learn French for Advanced level
Astérix et Obélix, mission Cléopâtre (Asterix And Obelix, mission Cleopatra)
Where to watch : HBOMAX
Fans of Astérix comics, rejoice! This French comic to silver screen adaptation follows the two loved protagonists of all time, Asterisk and his best friend Obelix, two Gaull warriors set on a journey to Egypt to help architect Numérobis build the most beautiful palace on earth for Queen Cleopatra.
Thoroughly funny and wildly entertaining, this movie uses a plethora of French terms that one should know as an advanced learner. You will not only get to enjoy the narrative as it follows the comic strip but also enrich your vocabulary (with dialogues belonging to people from aristocrats to laymen) like no other movie in comparison.
IMDB rating : 6.6
Learning French doesn’t have to be difficult. And learning the language from movies can be a fun-filled way to take off the burden in mastering French.
Now that you know the tiles you need to watch as you make progress, learning French should come easy to you.
Happy learning, fellas ! Or as they say in French, Bon apprentissage, les gars!