Watching French movies and TV shows is a great way to refresh your French, especially if you’re trying to pick it back up again after several years (or even decades).
But using Netflix or TV shows to improve your French can feel exhausting. Don’t worry! There are tips and techniques to make it work.
This way, you can scratch that itch to learn modern, everyday French and have more fun doing it!
1) Learn French with Netflix: The “intensive” method
You can use French TV shows with an “intensive” method of learning. It’s the one I use in my other lessons using scenes from French movies and TV shows.
It’s a series of step:
- Pick a scene you like
- Play with the scene
- Watch it as a French person
Choisir une scène qui t’intéresse (= Pick a scene that interests you)
→ With a character that you like, some sharp dialogue or something else that piqued your attention.
Jouer avec la scène (= Play with your scene)
→ Watch it slowly without subtitles. Rewind and add French subtitles. Look up the words you don’t know, listen to their pronunciation and informal grammar, add the English subtitles… This is the part that takes time! At the end, you should know a lot about the scene and dialogue.
Regarder la scène comme une Française (= Watch the scene like a French person)
→ Finally, watch it in French without any subtitle, at full speed. Be sure you can now hear and understand everything they say!
That method takes time and effort. But you will know these sentences front to back, with their construction and vocabulary. They’ll be new tools in your understanding (and speaking!) of French conversations.
An alternative is: se concentrer sur un personnage (= to focus on one character only.)
Like trying to understand clearly what Andrea says in Dix pour cent, for instance! Pick any angle, and it will help you focus and be more effective. Even if you’re simply watching the show in one go: by focusing on a specific character or comedian, you’ll pick up how they speak, their accent and pronunciation. You can even try to repeat what they just said!
Once again, it’s a bit of work on your own, though.
Click here to learn more: Learn French with Netflix: A scene from “L’Agence” (The Parisian Agency)
2) Learn French with Netflix: Structured program
Another, faster way to practice understanding real spoken French is with our weekly lessons here and our structured programs for all levels. You’ll find spoken French videos, vocabulary sheets, my own analysis of all resources and more!
Click here to learn more: French Courses for all Levels
What I mean is: a structured program will make you learn French more effectively, and then you can better enjoy French TV shows (with or without subtitles) and focus on the story, the cultural background, references, etc.
A structured program is also a way to get started at your level. There’s little use trying to understand fast spoken French on your first day of French lessons in decades. With courses, you’ll get to start with slow French and move up and your own pace.
It’s also a big help with regularity. The main hurdle preventing people from learning any skill is: just showing up. And it’s hard! Breaking down a scene from a French Netflix show takes time and motivation. Sure, you’ll do it one time, maybe twice, but after that you might be busy with something else and forget about it.
But that’s where a structured program can really help you: it gives you deadlines and exercises and motivation to keep going every day or every week.
The key really is regular practice.
And it helps if it’s fun!
3) Learn French with Netflix: Watch something simple regularly
That’s why you’d better simply find an entertaining program that you like, and watch it regularly. It can be a weekly French movie night, or a TV show, like:
- L’Agence (L’Immobilier de Luxe en famille), about a French family of luxury real estate agents
- Affaire conclue, a relatable auction show
- Maison à vendre, helping sell houses,
- Échappées Belles that will make you travel in France and elsewhere,
- Bref, a short, insightful comedy…
That last one, Bref (= “In short”) has the advantage of being really short. And basically, the shorter the better!
And it’s even better still if you find une structure (= a structure) that repeats each time. It can be as simple as la météo (= the weather forecast,) or un horoscope (= a horoscope)… If you dare, you can find good podcasts with 5 minutes of the news in French!
And as I said, slowing down and doing the analysis of a scene takes a lot of work. If you don’t feel like doing that work, that’s OK too. Even if you simply watch the show with subtitles, it’s practice.
You will not learn as much, but that’s OK too!
When you’re simply watching a French show, the point isn’t learning.
It’s to associate French with fun. As a bonus, you’ll get to hear how French really works. And most of all, it’s the reward of the practice you’ve done before!
Now, of course, you still need to learn with a program ahead of time, whether it’s with Comme une Française, or Duolingo, or your local Alliance Française classes.
The work you do on the structured program makes it so that you don’t need to work when watching French shows.
That way, after you practiced a piece of grammar or vocabulary and they use it on TV, you’ll recognize it and your subconscious will flag it as useful!
And it keeps French fun!
Now you can start diving deeper into French TV shows to binge watch with my top recommendations!
Click here to learn more:
- Learn French with Netflix: Best of 2022 Shows
- Spoken French: Understand A Scene from “Plan Coeur”
- Learn French with Netflix: An analysis of “J’ai perdu mon corps”
- Practice Your Oral Comprehension with French Netflix Series “Lupin”
- How to Understand Spoken French with ‘Call My Agent’ on Netflix
- The Best French TV Shows to Explore France Like a Local
- Understand Fast Spoken French: Netflix’s A Very Secret Service
À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!
→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂
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Salut to Géraldine + the customer service team (I’m not sure who looks at these).
There seems to be a slight glitch going on with this webpage ………….. ??
The last time I left a comment (er .. very brief) a few weeks ago it basically
didn’t seem to work ! The comment didn’t post, whereas what happened
instead was that a few (3 actually) little “dots” just bobbed up and down
in place of the “post/comment”. Most odd. Also, I now find that your video
lesson Géraldine doesn’t always show on this webpage. Instead, what
happens is I see a blank screen (light grey/nil content) with a rotating
circle in the screen’s centre. Odder and odder ………………….. 🙂
However, I now suddenly find that the comment box has come back to
life, whereas the video itself is still going round in circles – so to speak !
What is occuring ? (as they say in the Police Force) 😀
Anyway, I just thought I’d grab this opportunity to give it a mention.
I suppose I should email this to the office instead, but here it is with fingers
crossed that it doesn’t just evaporate when I press the submit button.
PS : I noticed your report of your visit to the West of Ireland Géraldine.
I hope you tried some Guinness while you were there ? I’ll be very
disappointed if you didn’t. Well done Colleen ..
Dear Jon, bonjour,
Merci. Thanks for your message. I forwarded it to the team who will get back to you regarding this technical glitch.
Jon – We recently applied some updates to the site that should resolve the issue. Please let us know if you run into this again – thanks!