Have Fun and Improve Your French Outside of the Classroom for Free!

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Class is back in session and no American student wants to spend time working on boring French grammar exercises or those silly lessons that you’re never going to use when you go to France. Why not learn French by doing something that you’re already doing and that interests you? By the way, I’m not exempting you from doing your French class homework ! What I’m talking about is picking up more French which in turn betters your French, not through more work, but by hobbies you’re already doing. Let’s take a look a few ways to learn French in fun (and useful !) ways:

1- Sports: Are you a sports fanatic? Textbook French lessons don’t cover sports much and this is one topic that is extremely popular in France, especially when it’s game season. Football (remember that means soccer in French- it’s also commonly just called le foot; Football américain is the one with the pigskin and Superbowl), tennis, basket (this is basketball), Rugby, F1 motor racing, and swimming just to name a few. TV5Monde also covers US Sports! You can call up your American cable company to ask for rates on an international package- it’s usually less than $20 more a month or you can go watch it online. TV5Monde’s sport website also features articles on the games in French. Reading these sport articles or watching the narrated French games on TV5 monde will teach you French sports jargon and because it’s something you’re already interested in. Great way to keep current- download the TV5Monde app to your phone for all day access.

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2- Movies/ TV shows: Watching a movie is always a fun way (although not always the most reliable) to learn but did you know that it’s an accurate and engaging way to learn a foreign language? I’m not talking about watching French movies –I’m talking about watching the American shows and movies you’re already interested in but just dubbing them in French (this is easiest with DVDs than online streaming). Watching a French film would be most ideal but let’s be honest- you just have to be in the mood to watch it. I like to watch shows/movies dubbed in French that I’ve seen many times before. With doing it this way, the plot is not new and it’s easier for your brain to learn what they’re saying in French because you already the English version. I’m a big Trekkie so my go to American show with French dubbing is Star Trek: The Original Series. I know it real well and it covers a multitude of subjects like war, equality, love, geology, science and history. I actually watch it so much in French that it’s weird for me to watch it in English. Plus, I never would’ve picked up that téléporte-moi was French for “beam me up” had I not been already familiar with the show.

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3-Read in French: And I don’t mean something from your French textbook! Reading a book for pleasure in French is another great way to be excited to learn and read French. It’s not boring and you’ll really increase your French skills through reading comprehension. But it’s not going to be a trip down easy street- this is quite difficult. Try circling or highlighting words you don’t know and look up them after you finish the chapter but use context clues as much as possible. I’m reading the Eragon series in French. I read the 1st one in English but the read the 2nd and now working on the 3rd in French. The first half of the 2nd book was really difficult for me as I wasn’t used to reading an actual book in a foreign language. I had to look up many words to grasp the story but then stopped as I started to get the hang of things and understand more. Going by context clues isn’t fool proof- there are many minute, descriptive details that I missed. But the good news is that I understand 95% of what I was reading and being in the groove of reading French from the 2nd book has made reading the 3rd book a breeze… now if I can only stay up long enough to read more than 2 sentences before passing out.



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