Getting to watch your favourite movies and learn a new language at the same time sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, it's not! Read on to find out how.
Now, if someone stopped me at the subway station outside telling me that they could teach me how to learn French from watching movies and chilling in front of my computer screen, I’d totally look up from my phone and say, “You’re scamming me.”
But guess what, I don’t have the time or energy to stand at a subway station and scream “HEY! I CAN TEACH YOU HOW TO LEARN FRENCH BY SIMPLY WATCHING MOVIES! AND ALL FOR FREE! ALL YOU NEED IS ACCESS TO INTERNET AND AN INTEREST IN LEARNING THE LANGUAGE!” at everyone who passes by, because firstly half of them won’t even be interested in learning French. The other half would think I’m a lunatic.
Luckily for language learners like you and me, it’s actually possible to learn languages from watching movies, and that’s a big part of your language learning journey that you shouldn’t neglect. Even luckier for French learners, it’s one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. You know what that means? That means there’s an abundance of French- and dubbed- movies out there ready for our perusal.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE WATCHING THE MOVIE
Obviously, by watching movies to learn French I don’t mean sit in front of your huge LED television screen and just watch it like you’d watch a silent movie, not taking in anything whatsoever. At the end of the day, you’d know a few more hot French actors, but nothing more than that.
I mean to put more effort in catching the way they speak than you would a normal English movie. French people generally talk fast, so things can be hard to catch in the beginning, but you need to try focusing more on their pronunciation and their sentence structure as well as picking up new vocabulary along the way (with contextual clues, this’ll happen naturally so long as you’re paying attention). It can be difficult to understand them at first, but over time you’re going to get used to their speaking speed and holding conversations is going to come way easier too.
Pro tip: try copying their pronunciation to improve your accent. Sadly enough, the French are very particular about their accents and give you strange looks whenever you pronounce something unusually, so you’d better get the accent right. Sure, it’s going to sound strange and you’re going to feel stupid, but it’s better embarrassing yourself in front of your cat than the receptionist at the Musée D’orsay when you try to buy a ticket. You get my point.
There’s no need to put your little vocabulary notebook beside you and write down every word you don’t understand- vocabulary acquisition doesn’t work like that. You’ll hear the word again if it’s important or often used, and if it’s not then, well, you’re probably not going to need to use it.
Don’t watch this movie like you’re watching for the plot. Watch it like you’re watching an educational Science video back in elementary school that the teacher forced you to. (If you didn’t pay attention back then, it’s time to start paying attention now that I’m not a balding old man.)
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MOVIE (VERY IMPORTANT!!)
Normally, it doesn’t really matter what movie you choose as long as it makes for an enjoyable movie night. But here, for learning a language, I’d recommend you watch a movie you’ve watched before in English or any other language you’re fluent in so you know the plot and aren’t just watching blindly. No pun intended.
Take, for example, me. I’ve watched Disney’s animated version of Mulan more than seven times, all in French. Of course, I’ve also watched it in other languages. So here’s the thing – I’ve watched it so many times I can quote lines from it in both English and French, so you can really see why I’m a staunch believer in movies being able to help you with French.
Because it helped me.
It’s easier if you know the lines, because you then know what they correspond with in French and you don’t have to struggle to keep up with the plot together with the language. The plot, you know. You’re just going through it differently, and when familiarity’s mixed with unfamiliarity, everything hits different.
You’ve come to the end of this post! Au revoir, and bonne chance!