A lot of great tips on how to learn French! Particularly love ‘les grosses têtes’
The French Room students’ recommendations for learning French show just how creative and personal learning a language is.
These tried and tested methods are enjoyable, effective and above all easy to fit into your day.
If you have a recommendation that you would like to share please do comment on this blog in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
David recommends listening to Les Grosses Têtes on RTL
Les Grosses Têtes is a daily radio show that is on every week day afternoon with a highlights compilation aired at the weekend. It’s hosted by one of France’s most popular presenters, Laurent Ruquier.
Les Grosses Têtes may seem difficult to understand at first, because it’s quick and full of French humour and references to French culture that you may not know. But there is a format to it that repeats, especially the “guess who” quizzes where Laurent either replies “Pas de tout!” or “Bonne réponse”.
Why not listen to this in the background when you’re doing something else and aim to get the gist rather than understand every word.
Repeated listening will pay off over time.
2 Recommendation number 2 is to try James’ French quiz.
Test your knowledge of French culture and history with James’ French quiz.
The current high score is 15 can you beat it?
- France a gagné la coupe du monde cette année pour la deuxième fois. Mais en quel an ont-ils le gagné pour la première fois?
- Qui était le roi de soleil?
- En ce moment il y a un grand nombre de manifestants, qui ne sont pas contents avec le prix d’essence? Quel est leur surnom?
- Dans le film “Amélie”, qui a joué le role d’Amélie?
- Qui est le compositeur de “Clair de Lune”?
- Qui était le premier couple marié à gagner un prix Nobel?
- Qui a écrit le roman “L’Étranger”?
- Quelle est la plus populaire destination touristique de Paris?
- Quand était la Révolution française?
- Quelle est la plus haute montagne de la France?
- Quand était la dernière exécution guillotine en France?
- Le gagnant du tour de France reçoit un maillot de quelle couleur?
- Qu’est il y a le nom de cette destination touristique? (Voir l’image)
- “The small sparrow” était le surnom de quel chanteur?
- Qui était le meilleur ami d’Astérix le Gaul?
- On utilise les foies de quelles créatures pour créer “le foie gras”?
- Il y a 8 pays ou principautés qui ont une frontière avec la France?
- .Quel est le plus long fleuve qui ne coule qu’en France?
- Qui était le président avant-dernier?
- Qui est cette femme? (Voir l’image)
3 Ricky listens to Coffee Break French while doing the ironing. It’s a daily podcast that’s ideal for beginner – intermediate level. Listening is such an effortless but effective way to improve your French.
Find a podcast that you like and make it part of your everyday routine.
4 It’s probably safe to say that the people behind Duolingo know more about how we learn language than anyone else.
With 120m users around the world they have an incredible amount of data on what people need to progress in a language.
And by the way, the only languages currently available are English, French and Spanish, so they know a lot about the English to French learner specifically.
But this isn’t why Lesley gives Duolingo the thumbs up.
It’s the bite size challenges, rewards and losses that make this app so addictive. How brilliant is that an educational app that works and you can’t stop yourself from playing it.
Duolingo is excellent from complete beginner through to intermediate levels.
5 Call My Agent gets a mention in the top 10 for a second year running.
Watching French TV is always highly recommended and Call My Agent is still the most popular show amongst The French Room students. Lisa says;
I do find in general watching french programs on Netflix (particularly call my agent) with french subtitles very helpful too, because you can pick up and learn body language too, as well as some cultural aspects.
Netflix also has Marseille starring Depardieu, Le Petit Nicolas and some good French films. Channel 4’s Walter Presents is also a good source of French TV and films.
6 Barnaby recommends rapping to remember. He mastered Avoir, Etre, Aller and Faire in every tense by creating a rap with a backing track that he listens to in his car.
It certainly worked for Barnaby. The other benefit of this approach is that you can develop an even rhythm to your French pronunciation which makes you sound more French.
My favourite French rapper is MC Solaar and I’d highly recommend listening to Caroline and rapping along to perfect the rhythm of your spoken French.
7 Mel recommends having a crack at translating and interpreting French poetry and songs.
I think its just a question of finding something that grabs your interest. The great thing about translating is that there isn’t a ‘right’ answer, its subjective and full of compromise. And for me it’s the process, the research, the journey, with all it’s diversions, tangents and dead ends, rather than the final product that’s so enjoyable and valuable.
The Youtube channel Frenchrescue has a bunch of videos of classic French songs with dual French and English lyrics which are a great way into French language and culture too.
8 Angela recommends French film and theatre as a route into authentic French culture. The picture is of the highly acclaimed French film “Un amour impossible”, showing at Saffron Screen on Monday 4th February.
9 Christine, along with lots other The French Room students, is methodically working her way through the Mr Man and Little Miss series in French. It never ceases to amaze me how rich the use of language is in these short stories.
Le Petit Nicolas is equally good although a little longer. The first edition came out in 1959 and it’s just as relevant today as it ever was. Try these books for gentle reading and great examples of spoken, colloquial French.
As a first step into reading a full length novel I would still recommend “Demain J’arrête” by Gilles Legardinier. A few brave souls have set themselves the challenge of reading Harry Potter in French.
Whatever you decide to read you will always benefit from reading as a way to enrich and broaden your vocabulary
Andrew and Hazel recommend a weekly email from Benjamin Houy as an interesting and manageable way to learn chunks of vocabulary by weekly topic.
Jackie writes a weekly diary of what she has done or is planning to do in the days ahead. This is a great way to check your understanding of the sounds, grammar and word order of French. Please feel free to have a go at this and bring it with you to your next class.
A bonus tip from Ryan. Try to go to France as much as you can. Imagine the opportunity we have to practise the language and compare that with the opportunities you might have if you were learning Japanese for example!
Ryan recommends striking up a conversation with as many people as possible shop assistants, waiters and waitresses, other customers, hotel staff, people on trains. Just go for it and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work!
If you’re not yet a student at The French Room why not complete our short questionnaire and find out how we can offer you tailor-made French learning. Come along and learn with this inspiring bunch of people or if you prefer you can learn 121 with private classes either on your own or with a friend or partner.
Thanks, great article.
Thank you Mark. You have proved all of this true.
I hope so Max.