Finesse your French: how to engage with contemporary France part 6 - My French Life™ - Finesse your French - How to engage with contemporary France - Contemporary France - French Media - Header

Now that you’ve reached this point in your French learning journey, it’s a time to celebrate! Why? Because now your French is advanced enough to let you engage with contemporary France in a meaningful way.

By now, you’re a high-level intermediate French language learner who’s discovered how to make French grammar easy. So, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of your improved comprehension skills by working to engage with contemporary France.

Sound hard?

Not to worry – at MyFrenchLife™ we’re all familiar with this exciting process. We’ll show you how to engage with all kinds of French media, and how to use these media to actively understand the French-speaking world.

Contemporary France – - My French Life™ - Finesse your French - How to engage with contemporary France - Contemporary France - French Media - Magazine.

The first key to being savvy about French current affairs is to cover the vocabulary – especially when listening. It’s important to be familiar with specific terms that will tend to crop up over and over again.

So, this means a good deal of memorisation. Learn French political phrases in lists like this one, as well as French news terms.

If you’re cringing at the mention of memorising vocabulary, you’re in luck! Nailing these types of words needn’t be a struggle…

  • First, since most of them are fairly advanced, they tend to have easy cognates in English
  • Second, the spaced repetition method has been shown to make learning vocabulary much easier. It’s essentially a hack that helps your brain save newly-learned facts in its long-term memory.

But, in order to translate these facts into real-world learning, you’ll need to engage with French media directly. - My French Life™ - Finesse your French - How to engage with contemporary France - Contemporary France - French Media - Laptop

How to boost your French media savvy

When trying to put your French language comprehension skills to practical use, nothing beats immersing yourself in authentic French media! No, it’s not as scary as it sounds – there are many options. We understand that diving straight into Le Monde or listening to the nightly news broadcast in French may seem too intimidating.

So, why not try this alternative?

News in Slow French offers weekly news updates at a reduced speed to make comprehension easier. From there, it’s quite simple to build up to French news broadcasts that are subtitled in English – and from there, to subtitles in French only.

Meanwhile, TV5Monde offers current events programming for French learners based on your level. Additionally, RFI offers news in easy French to help you feel more confident about listening to the French news itself.

But it doesn’t all have to be news.

Subtitled playlists of current French songs, French blog sites, and online resource centres can boost your listening and reading comprehension just as well.

Passive learning – maintain your French skills on the go - My French Life™ - Finesse your French - How to engage with contemporary France - Contemporary France - French Media - French podcast - CyclingBut no matter how committed you are, keeping up with your language learning regimen can get hard.

Who has time to spend many hours a day actively learning French?

Passive learning offers one good solution to this dilemma. As two recent studies have pointed out, listening to material in your target language solidifies knowledge already gained and helps prime you to absorb more.

So, take advantage.

Listen to French podcasts or songs at home or on your commute, and add current French content to your social media!

Time to reap the French rewards

The best thing about this type of engaged learning is how fun it can be! Now, you can expand your French learning journey beyond resources specifically designed for learners. It’s time to supplement this type of experience with the real world.


Now get out there and discover la France actuelle as you move further towards full French fluency!

What have you discovered through engaging with contemporary France? What has interested or surprised you the most? Share your discoveries in the comments section below!

Enjoyed this article?

Currently at a different level of French learning?

Click through to discover more articles in our ‘Finesse your French’ series:

You CAN learn French this time: a breakthrough method – introduction

How to overcome your French learning frustration – part 1

Moving beyond French conversation basics – part 2

French language and culture – part 3

The intermediate French learning plateau and how to overcome it – part 4

How to make French grammar easy – part 5

How to engage with contemporary France – part 6 – this article

How to push towards French fluency – part 7

How to have advanced French fun – part 8

How to maintain and build your advanced French skills – part 9

Image Credits
1. Reading a magazine, via MaxPixel
2. Laptop by kaboompics, via Pixabay
3. Girl on bike by Kurt Bauschardt, via Flickr

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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  1. Keith Van Sickle Nov 14, 2018 at 9:27 AM - Reply

    These are all great suggestions! And I’ll take the opportunity to advocate for Le Monde, France’s leading newspaper.

    I have found it less intimidating than I expected, for two reasons. First, the language is very straightforward and avoids the kind of slang that can trip up a French learner (by contrast, Paris Match is very hard to read for that reason.) Second, some of the articles cover news that is also in English-language papers and broadcasts. So if you are familiar with a subject from your daily news, you have a leg up on understanding the article in Le Monde.

    • Judy MacMahon Nov 14, 2018 at 9:48 AM - Reply

      You make a good point here Keith in relation to the topics which are familiar – thank you for adding to this discussion

  2. Alisa Landrum Nov 14, 2018 at 10:08 AM - Reply

    Outstanding post – concise, practical and encouraging. Also agree with Keith that the similar topic (American news) creates another link of competence to exploit.
    I often have Radio France streaming on an internet radio in my house, and even my totally non-francophone spouse picks up bits and pieces.
    It is necessary to become familiar with the French political system and bureaucracy, especially the acronyms, but that is all for the good.

    • Judy MacMahon Nov 14, 2018 at 3:18 PM - Reply

      Yes Radio France – background discussion in French is a great idea! Thanks Alisa.

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