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A Way to Support your Learning during your French Immersion Stay: Television

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A Way to Support your Learning during your French Immersion Stay: Television

Practising your French doesn’t always have to be hard work, bent over grammar textbooks and an unending stream of exercises. It can be equally as helpful to really try and immerse yourself in the French language, simply by enjoying French culture. I am not a big film fan, so for me, the easiest way to immerse myself in the culture and the language is through television.

My first piece of advice would be to make an account on France TV. Whilst you’re in France for your French courses, you have free access to this site where you can watch a bunch of different French TV shows and documentaries. I’ve been watching SKAM France, the French adaptation of a popular Norwegian show of the same name. It follows a group of teens through their last years of college, and as episodes are only twenty minutes long, it’s very easy to binge watch.

As I have found from coming to France for my French immersion stay, the French you learn at school and the French that people actually use is very different. From SKAM, I’ve already picked up so much useful slang, as well as lots of verlan, a subgenre of French slang which was originally created as a secret language. In verlan, the syllables of a word are inverted – just as ‘verlan’ is the inverted form of ‘l’envers’, which means ‘the reverse’. In SKAM, the characters use it a lot: ‘venère’ for ‘enervé’, ‘chanmé’ for ‘méchant’, and the classic, ‘meuf’ for ‘femme’. In my French class the next morning, I tried to remember as best as I could my new vocabulary, which caused a lot of laughter when our French teacher helped us to construct such sentences as ‘Meuf, je te kiffe grave’ (something like ‘girl, I really dig you’). Ah French, the language of romance.

If SKAM doesn’t appeal, definitely make sure to take a look at the other series available on france tv during your French immersion stay, as once you leave France you won’t be able to access them. But, there are still options for improving your French even after you’ve gone back home, or if you are taking online French courses instead. Before I came to learn French in France, I used to watch a lot of French shows on Netflix to try and improve. In particular, I really loved this series called Call My Agent (Dix pour cent), which follows the daily dramas and shenanigans in a casting agency in Paris. Each episode guest stars a different French actor playing a caricatured, demanding version of themselves, so you might see some familiar faces from other films and shows. It’s a very funny show; I always used to watch it before I had exams or interviews in French in order to get myself into French mode, but also as a way to relax and de-stress a bit.

Watching French TV can be as easy or as hard as you wish based on your language level; you can watch with subtitles in your own language, with subtitles in French, or the hardest of all, with no subtitles. For me, the most helpful thing is to watch with French subtitles. I am definitely a visual learner, and when I learn languages I need to see how words are written and how the sounds are formed in order to commit them to memory. Especially with French, where speakers often link words together with liaisons, it can be quite difficult to know where one word ends and the next begins. Therefore, when I am watching a French series and reading the subtitles at the same time, I find this gives me the best chance of learning new vocabulary and figuring out exactly what is being said.

So, to finish, I thought I would give a little list of some of my TV recommendations for supporting your French learning:

  • SKAM
  • Call my agent
  • Lupin
  • Plan Coeur
  • Marseille
  • Spiral