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French & Reading: A Student's Guide to Francophone Literature & Language Learning

Online Resources for French Language Learning: Music, Movies & Media

Louane Emera, French singer-songwriter. New Pop Festival. 2017. Photo by Harald Krichel.

Listening to French spoken by native speakers is an essential aspect of French language learning. Today students are lucky to have a wealth of videos freely available. Again, variety is key: listen to news in French, YouTube videos; follow social media accounts that interest you, listen to audio books in French while you read. French music is another enjoyable way to become more fluent. Popular artists (see Contemporary French Music below) are often featured on YouTube with subtitles or lyrics (use French in settings when available) to help (or if using a streaming music service, turn on the lyrics). However, if using the so-called shadowing technique, comprehension is not important. The goal is simply to repeat the audio and mimic the pronunciation and intonation to get a natural sense of how the language flows. Keep in mind that French accents differ all over the world; enrich your understanding and comprehension by listening to a variety of music and dialogues. Explore beyond continental France by looking for musical categories such as Maghreb rap or Arabic hip-hop. Finding a variety of resources is relatively easy on the internet. For an anthology of French rock music and popular culture in the 20th-21st century see the French review Les Inrockuptibles (Les Inrocks External).

There has been a recent explosion of popular French online streaming series available to US audiences. Suggestions include: Lupin (Lupin) starring the charismatic Omar Sy, Call My Agent! (Dix pour cent) a comedy staring the multitalented Camille Cottin, Bonfire of Destiny (Le Bazar de la Charité), Baron noir, Maison close, Un village français staring Audrey Fleurot, Engrenages (Spiral) (also staring Fleurot), and Plus belle la vie. Keep in mind the mature themes in many of these series are not suitable for minors.

Another important and increasingly popular format for learning languages are video games. Unlike educational phone apps like Duolingo, video games (les jeux vidéo) are what French politician, Jean-Luc Mélenchon call "un art total. Ils mêlent la création musicale, littéraire, cinématographique. External (2002). The BnF takes video games seriously enough to have created a LibGuide on the topic External.And some enthusiastic creators are building these games around regional minority languages such as Occitan. Danís Chapduelh (Chadeuil), editor-in-chief of the magazine Lo Diari, points to the various considerations that go into a video game including, visual arts, drawing, animation, graphic design, writing, staging, music, comic characters and of course, interactivity. He views the video game (le jeu vidéo) as a way to transmit knowledge, culture and language into the greater world and encourages the community translation of popular video games into minority languages as has been done for games such as Minecraft. He translated the game Stardew Valley into the Occitan language as Vau Serena External and incorporated cultural aspects including folkloric references and arcane vocabulary. For more information on minority languages see the section Regional Languages in France or his presentation on Making Minority Worlds External.

Even if you are still learning it is essential to hear French spoken by native speakers to get a feel for the language and the visual context and verbal intonation can help with comprehension. Increasing the variety of material will help students get a more authentic understanding of French culture. Below you will find a list of popular French musicians and singers, cultural institutions and organizations that can be helpful, news sites, and a curated list of online resources for language study. Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque national has some great resources on French Literature External in general, and on "Les Feuilletons External". The goal is to find something that interests and engages you, so you are more likely to read it for fun.

Contemporary French Music 

Free Language Programs

Online French Language Resources

French Cultural Institutions

Internet News Sites: Newspapers