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Learning French with French Films: living in French #5

Learning French with French Films - MyFrenchLife.org - Living IN French series

For years I’ve spoken about ‘learning French’ but recently I’ve changed my mindset to ‘Living in French’, which is all about learning french ‘the natural way’. The way children learn a language—yes, by total immersion through sound and sight and repetition in particular.

‘French-immersion-at-home’ with film

We all dream of being in France and since March of 2020, that’s not possible for most of us due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Most of us also know that when in France our French language skills improve ‘out-of-sight’. We refer to the ‘magic’ of immersion, but I for one have not previously really taken this to another level.

Now—my focus is a ‘French-immersion-at-home’ approach—another level.

Living in French—how I did it before

I’ve for many years tried to include French in my life. I thought I was serious about this ‘French-immersion-at-home’ approach. However, now I’ve realised that I could do more – much more! So this year I’ve taken it to another level! Up another notch.

I was living WITH French rather than living IN French!

French film continues to provide a wonderful insight into French history, life, and culture—the way the French population lives, loves, and thinks. Suddenly I felt that I was part of the French population, with French friends: real immersion. I was ‘Living IN French’!

I thought that you may be interested to hear what I’ve discovered about learning French with French Films …

French film then infiltrated everyday life

Oh, so many French films!—finding such an extensive resource—so deep and rich, I was ecstatic!

We don’t all learn the same way…

What’s your learning style? Some people learn a language purely by listening, while others like me need the visuals as well as the audio.

Here’s how a visual learning person can learn French with film.

Learning French with French Films – how to reveal the subtitles

Here are the simple steps in case you haven’t done this before:

  1. Go to the video you’d like to watch.
  2. If captions are available, will be visible on the bottom right of the video player.
  3. To turn on Captions, click.
  4. To turn off captions, click again.
  5. Sometimes it is possible to click on words in the subtitle to reveal the English translation! Watch out for this as it’s very useful.

A few things to consider when using sub-titles on French film

  1. Which language? When using sub-titles on film, some like the audio in the language you’re learning and the sub-titles in that same target language. This is my preference.
  2. Find your preference. Whilst others prefer audio in French for example and sub-titles in English. Try it both ways until you find what works best for you. Sometimes it works to switch back and forth at times… work out what suits you.
  3. Factors determining your preference. I do believe that it will depend on a number of factors: the level of your French aural skills, the nature of the content, and the accent of the speaker. If the content is familiar to you that will help.
  4. Start with familiar themes or familiar films. This is why it’s so important to start out with films where they’re talking about things that are more familiar to you, but probably not technical terms or masses of street argot or verlan for example.

Learning French with French film – a bit more on the how …

  1. Watch the film in French but with no subtitles. From this, you’ll gain the gist of what’s going on.
  2. Now watch it the second time but in bite-sized bits, scene by scene… still no subtitles!
  3. OK, now watch each scene… with the subtitles this time.
  4. Listen out for vocabulary as well as context… notice how the words are used.
  5. Listen and repeat new words... Look up the words you don’t understand — now can be a good time to make a note of those words.
  6. AND finally, it’s time to watch the film again until you’re comfortable to have understood the gist of the conversation.

Other resources: French Film

  1. And yet another Great resource—Talk in French, have provided monthly lists of French films— more than 365 French films for you to check out: that’s a film for each day of the year! Un grand merci !

Do you find that watching French Films helps you learn French? Share your experiences below on how you’ve been learning French with French Films.


NOTE: If you have an interest in following this Living IN French series.
Please comment below, so as to be sure not to miss out on hearing about the publication of the following parts. Merci.


Living IN French series

Part #1 – French Immersion at Home
Part #2 – Learning French with Audio
Part #3 – Learning French by Podcast
Part #4 – Learning French with Music
Part #5 – Learning French with French film (this one)

How is Your French? Poll

At MyFrenchLife we’re so interested in assisting you with your French that we have a simple Poll for you to complete right now. Many thanks for participating. There is only one compulsory question, so this will only take a minute. Please help me with this as it will help me direct our content to your competency level.
Here is the link to our ‘How is your French Poll‘.
Merci d’avance.



Join the conversation

1 Comment




  1. Kameela
    3 months ago

    Before moving to France. I started watching French films ,listening to French music and reading French books including cook books, newspapers and magazines. I was lucky to have a French friend in England so I spoke French with her. If it’s at all possible finding a French speaker to converse would help enormously.