French films – Random selection of my favourites

Ma vie en l’air

Le premier jour du reste de ta vie

Didier

Le hérisson

Tanguy

Sorry Spanish people for comitting the biggest diplomatic mistakes when talking about this movie and making fun of 30 year-olds living with their parents.

Guillaume et les garçons à table

Gemma Bovery

La discrète

Prête-moi ta main

L’Arnacoeur

 

La Délicatesse

French Playlist – Spring Edition

Chers étudiants,

Merci merci merci de me permettre de vivre de ma passion pour les langues, en particulier pour la mienne.

J’espère que plus vous apprendrez, plus vous pourrez apprécier les textes des artistes de ma playlist de printemps.

Puisse ce printemps être aussi doux pour vous que pour moi.

5 super easy rules to immediatly sound more French

I know French can be hard and is not always intuitive but there are some rules that are not even rules and that you can start to use right now. They don’t require you to think about gender, number or tense, and they often need to be used approximately once every 3 sentences so you’ll get your return on investment immediatly.

Quelque chose de + adjective / Quelqu’un de + adjective

What you mean “Something pretty”, “Someone nice”.

What you say “Quelque chose beau”, “Quelqu’un gentil”.

What French speakers feel like when you say that:

whatwhat
To summarize, it feels like you’re trying to speak to Tarzan

What you must say:”Quelque chose de beau”, “Quelqu’un de gentil”.

Please please please, this one is a very easy one, you only need to add a little word between quelque chose or quelqu’un and the adjective you wanted to say in the first place. It doesn’t take you any thinking but it really changes everything for us French natives.

Je n’ai pas de + noun

What you mean: “I don’t have a dog.”

What you say: “Je n’ai pas un chien.”

What French speakers may think: “I don’t have one dog, I may have more.”

What you must say: “Je n’ai pas de chien”.

Beaucoup plus / moins

What you mean: “It is much more important.” or “It is much less important”.

What you say: “Très plus” or “Très moins”.

What French speakers may think: nothing in particular but it really sounds messy to the point of becoming distracting.

What you must say:“C’est beaucoup plus important.” ou “C’est beaucoup moins important.”

The rule is, if you have “plus” or “moins” and need a quantifier, use “beaucoup”. That’s all. Easy peasy.

Avoid “n’importe quoi” at. all. costs. (everything had to be in bold here)

What you mean: “I like anything.”

What you say: “J’aime n’importe quoi”.

What French people hear: “I’m really into any random, nonsical stuff.”

This one is a mystery to me, I’m always very surprised by how early in the learning process you are taught this word. Avoid using it if your intention is not to sound like a scornful teenager repeating “bullshit” over and over again. Indeed, when French people say “C’est n’importe quoi !” they really mean “That’s nonsense!” and, because that’s the most common way for us to use it, this word tends to carry this meaning even when used in other contexts. So the solution is …a bit more complicated than the rest but the trick is to find the synonym of “anything” in the sentence you’re making.

What you should say:“J’aime tout.” when wanting to say “I like anything” because what you really mean is “I like everything”.

Facile à ? or Facile de ?

What you mean: “It’s easy to do.”

What you say:“C’est facile de faire.”

What French people think:“This guy has not finished his sentence.”

What you must say – 2 options here:

– If you’re not planning on adding anything after “facile” (it works for “difficile” too) because you’ve talked about that thing before, use “à“. ex: “C’est facile à faire.”

– If your sentence is not finished and you’re going to elaborate, use “de“. ex:”C’est facile de faire une omelette.”

 

That’s all for today! Of course we still understand you if you make those mistakes and of course you might encounter exceptions because it’s a living language we’re talking about. But these tricks should work 99% of the time and help your French interlocutors remain focused, allowing conversations to flow much better.

8 fun French youtube channels to enjoy your learning process

I know you’ve probably already heard about Norman and Cyprien but it’s not them I’m going to talk to you about in this article. Indeed, my idea is to provide you with resources that you would actually enjoy watching if they were in your native language (and in my opinion, Norman and Cyprien’s jokes might be a bit too much France-related for their videos to seem like a natural option for you) so that you don’t have to go too much out of your way to practice French in your everyday life . You’re already making the effort of learning a language that has painful “liaisons” and a great number of letters that are not pronounced, why should you also have to watch boring French videos when there are so many fascinating videos out there?

Here’s my selection of addictive French youtube channels which will make your learning journey enjoyable and sustainable!

DirtyBiology

DirtyBiology is one of my favourite French Youtubers. All of Léo’s videos shed light on very engaging topics, such as the origins of wealth (and poverty!) from a scientific point of view, with captivating explanations and entertaining demonstrations.

Difficulty level: Average/High because of how fast Léo speaks. However, if you’re able to get past that, the vocabulary and grammar is that of everyday language, so pretty easy.

C’est une autre histoire

Never dull and always full of many interesting anecdotes, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone with this channel. If you don’t know what to talk about with your tutor during your next lesson, invest 20 minutes of your time into one these videos, you’ll have a return on investment of a good 3 hours of conversation! If you’re going to be spending time with 20-something French people soon, this is the kind of language you should get used to.

Difficulty level: High. These videos are full of puns, the language is fast and pretty colloquial, full of anglicisms and everyday expressions that we tend to use with our friends and take liberties with the language of Molière (but honestly that’s when the good stuff happens).

Blow Up, l’actualité du cinéma (ou presque)

If you like cinema, Blow Up is the youtube channel you need. The language is easily understandable as the voice-over is pretty slow and relatively formal. The series Top 5, my favourite, talks about topics such as tears or snow in movies and is a good one to start with if you’re an upper beginner or an intermediate learner.

Difficulty level: Low/Average thanks to the short sentences and the many silences between each of them. No extravagant word everyday language, that’s really the kind of French you would find in your grammar books, only less boring.

Nicole Ferroni

Hang on tight with Nicole, this hilarious humourist/journalist stuffs all her sentences with the most complicated puns and cultural references. Great youtube channel for those of you who want to take a good challenge.

Difficulty level: F*cking expert

Pour la petite histoire

A good channel to get your daily dose of French while learning about a bunch of interesting social groups and historical facts.
Difficulty level: Average, the pace is pretty average and language level neutral enough for beginners to give it a shot and for intermediate learners to hear new expressions.

Linguisticae

Super interesting channel for anyone interested in languages in general, which I believe you are if you’re learning French, and a great resource if you want to get a better understanding of how French language works and how it shapes French people.

Difficulty level: Pretty hard, the guy is a language expert so you bet his French is good and pretty flowery. I strongly recommend this channel to people wanting to go from B2 to C1 or even higher.
A good channel to get your daily dose of French while learning about a bunch of interesting social groups and historical facts.

Nota Bene

This channel is the one responsible for my taking a month to write this article. The videos are about juicy historical anecdotes and they might be a bit addictive. At least they were to me.

Difficulty level: Pretty hard, Dove is eloquent and has a wide range of vocabulary, phrases and uses Middle-Age-related words.

Dave Sheik – Histoire Brève

Very good French Youtube channel, a lot of information in very short videos (3 minutes on average) so you’ll be able to watch the video several times because, I have to admit it, the Dave Sheik’s French is a bit fast. My favourite video of this channel? How tea controls the world

Difficulty level: Pretty hard, this Youtuber’s language is not too hard but he speaks quite fast and uses some slang such as OSEF, that is to say, “On s’en fout”.

Doc Seven

The videos of this channel are lists of 7 things; 7 abandonned places, 7 surprising facts, 7 world records that cannot be beaten, … If you’re addicted to Buzzfeed listicles, you will love Doc Seven.

Difficulty level: Average/High. This youtuber speaks fast but he doesn’t use too much slang. Upper ntermediate and advanced learners, this channel is for you.

How to learn French? A podcast by a French learner & a French teacher.

I asked Shawn (thank you Shawn!) a few questions about his French learning journey. In this podcast, we answer the following questions:

  • How to get started?
  • What strategy to adopt to be consistent and learn French efficiently?
  • What techniques should be avoided for beginners?
  • How to remember which words are feminine or masculine?
  • What is the impact of learning grammar?
  • And many other questions!

By the way, the podcast is in French!

The best French films for foreigners #2 – Four French films for the summer

Because speaking French isn’t only about living in cloudy Paris, I’ve come up with a selection of my favourite French movies to watch in the summer. If you don’t know how your learning process could benefit from watching movies in French, check out my previous article.

La Gloire de Mon Père

Based on writer and director Marcel Pagnol’s autobiography, this poetic film is one of my favourites. Set in Marseille and its hinterland at the beginning of the 20th century, you’ll learn a lot of new funny expressions and you might even find their Provençal accent actually easy to understand because the characters speak slowly. There is a second part to it, Le Château de Ma Mère. Makes me cry every time.

Extra credit if you understand l’Oncle Jules!

 

Jean de Florette

If you liked La Gloire de Mon Père and Le Château de Ma Mère, you’ll love Jean de Florette (click here to see a subtitled excerpt)! Set in wild Provence, the plot is about a village, its family secrets and revenge at a time where water was one of the most precious goods. And there is a second part to this story by Marcel Pagnol (yes, again, I love him): Manon des Sources .

Extra credit if you understand Ugolin (and if you use “fada”!).

Nos Jours Heureux

You’ll learn … swear words! If you’ve been waiting for them and you won’t be disappointed with this comedy set in a summer camp in the 90’s. The characters are all very funny and, I must say, true to life. Definitely a good pick if you want to laugh (after crying for 7 hours straight with Marcel Pagnol’s stories).

Super Extra Credit if you understand the guy from Quebec!

 Les 12 Travaux d’Astérix

Just because it’s typically the film that goes on TV every year in the summer and, really, one shouldn’t have to make up an excuse to watch Astérix & Obélix !

Extra credit if you understand the first names puns.

Good holidays and stay tuned!

The 15 best French songs (according to a Frenchwoman!)

Whether you want to take a little break during your learning process or you want to use a different kind of material to learn grammar, listening to French songs is definitely a good idea. Indeed, songs have the particularity of having sticky enough a rythm for you to hum them without realizing it. So before you know it you might end up singing the subjunctive form in the shower, sounds good, doesn’t it?

How to make the most of listening to songs in French?

  • Find songs you like.
  • Listen to them repetitively.
  • Sing to them, trying to mimic the singer even if you don’t understand what they say. Understanding is not the priority in this phase, it’s more about the rythm and pronounciation.
  • Try to transcribe as much as you understand. Keep this document. You’ll be happy to see it in a few weeks to see how you’ve progressed.
  • Look for the lyrics. Once you’ve tried your best to sound exactly like the singer, you can look for the lyrics, that will help you pronounce the song better next time you sing to it.
  • Translate the lyrics. If you are curious and like the exercise.
  • Enter the new phrases and vocabulary in Anki (even though by then you might already know them by heart). You’ll soon be able to use them yourself, with the correct intonation and everything!

Now you’ve decided you want to sing French in the shower and you ask yourself: “Who are the French artists I know?”. You only come up with Daft Punk, Woodkid and the Avener, whom I love, but I have to admit they don’t really get us anywhere as far as French is concerned.

So I’ve come up with a little selection of my 20 favourite French songs.
You’ll find a bit of everything except for Edith Piaf and Alizée, but you already know their songs by heart anyway.

Scroll down to see the songs ranked by difficulty.

 

The best 20 French songs for French learners

 

Easy (or, let’s say, not too fast):

Pocahontas – Grand Corps Malade A nice song sung, or even spoken, so if you’re just beginning, you might want to pick this one for starters.
Platini – Julien Doré This song is quite slow and singer repeats the same thing every 30 seconds so if you didn’t catch a word, don’t panic, Julien Doré will repeat it for you.
Roche – Sébastien Tellier Same here, only the same lyrics come back every 40-ish seconds.
Je suis venu te dire – Serge Gainsbourg Work on your present tense and slowly get introduced with “en” et “y” with Gainsbourg.
Quitter la Ville – Rone No long strings of words here, you’ll only listen to three to four words at the time.
San Francisco – Maxime Le Forestier Like the previous song, only there are more words in a row.

 

Medium (but still in a hard way):

Indochine – College Boy After listening to this song you’ll definitely know how to say “having the right to”. Just so you know, the clip was forbidden on French TV.
La Vague – Izia: You might understand “Je suis la vache qui te ramène” instead of “Je suis la vague qui te ramène”. At least I did.
Christine – Christine and the Queens This one is kind of hard, it is full of expressions, informal phrases and anglicisms.
Fort Alamo – Jean Louis Murat: Pay attention here, the lyrics are completely unexpectable.
Amir – J’ai Cherché: Yes, it’s a Eurovision song but it’s good, plus you have the chorus in English to rest a litte. You might understand “tuer mon lapin” instead of “tuer ma peur” which will make the song somewhat odd. By the way, check this video about how French mishear foreign songs (you won’t be disappointed).
Femme Libérée – Cookie Dingler: a lot of everyday life expressions, vocabulary and references.

 

Extra hard:

Matador – Mickey 3D: Extra credit if you understood the play on word at this moment (before reading it here). And watch the clip, it’s hilarious.
Marcia Baila – Les Rita Mitsouko Don’t be fooled by the names, the song is not in Spanish but in French and you’ll find a lot of unusual words in the verses.
Tous les Mêmes – Stromae  Full of puns and alliterations, this one is tricky but it’s definitely a good one to learn a lot of common expressions because none of them has been invented to create a fake rhyme.

 

Find an extended version on Deezer