Refresh Your Memory: 7 Effective Memorization Techniques For Language Learning
What is the most powerful tool for learning a foreign language? It is our memory.
French cinema has a long and storied history. It provides a great window into French life and glimpses into the minds and hearts of French speakers.
Watching French movies are also a great way for beginner language learners to improve their fluency as it will expose them to the language as spoken by native speakers. It’s also fun!
Making sure that language learning is fun is important because it will help keep you motivated and interested even if things are getting a little more complicated and difficult. At the very least, if you pick the right movies, it’s going to keep you wanting to learn because you want to really understand what is going on.
French movies for beginners can help keep you motivated to learn as it keeps things interesting. It’s also a good way to make sure that you are constantly exposed to French speakers so that you pick up the language quickly.
Here are a few other reasons why language learners, even at the beginner level, should watch French movies.
1. It will improve your pronunciation
The best way to really nail the pronunciation of French words and improve your French accent is for you to actually hear French people talking.
2. It will train your ears and improve your listening comprehension.
While there are great French textbooks out there, reading French in a textbook or even in a list of common words is not the same as hearing it.
When you arrive in an area with a lot of French speakers, you are going to be expected to understand French when you hear it, not when you read it. So watching a French film is a great way to practice listening to and understanding spoken French.
3. It will expose you to the French culture
Watching French movies won’t just get you used to hear the language, but it will also expose you to daily life in French-speaking areas. It is also a great way to pick up common French slang words and idioms.
4. It’s fun!
Memorizing common French phrases and words is a necessary step towards building fluency in French BUT it can be a bit dull. Watching a French film will allow you to take a nice break from your studies while still exposing yourself to the French language.
If you can find French movies with subtitles, like on streaming services such as Netflix, you should use this feature to improve your ability to learn.
First, try and watch with subtitles in your main language or a language you are more familiar with. For example, if your first language is English, set the audio to French and the subtitles to English.
While watching the film, you should try and concentrate on the audio, recognize the French words and phrases as they are being said. If you come upon a word that is unfamiliar to you or an expression that just doesn’t seem to make sense, glance at the subtitles to see if the translation will help.
Afterward, try watching the film with French audio and French subtitles. It is at this point that you should focus on how the words sound. Since you now know how to understand the dialogue and can follow along with what is going on the screen, you need to focus on the proper way to pronounce the words and phrases and improve your accent.
The title of this 2004 musical drama film translates to “The Choristers” or “The Choirboys” and it inspired by the origins of a real-life boys’ choir, The Little Singers Of Paris.
New teacher Clement Mathieu arrives at a French boarding school for troubled boys where he begins to bond with them and change their lives by forming them into a choir.
This film was nominated for Best Foreign Language film during the 77th Academy Awards so it’s a great example of not just French cinema-style but also acting. The song “Vois sur ton chemin”, composed for the film was also nominated for Best Original Song during the Oscars and is just an example of the great French songs you will hear as you watch.
This popular nature documentary was released in 2005; in both French and English (as The March of the Penguins. It won the 2006 Oscars for Best Documentary Feature.
The documentary takes you along on the yearly journey faced by the Emperor Penguins to their breeding and feeding grounds in the Antarctic. Every year, penguins of breeding age walk from the ocean to their breeding grounds where they court, mate, and lay their eggs. The documentary shows us that harrowing journey for survival in gripping detail.
One advantage of watching French documentary movies, especially for beginner language learners is that the dialogue is relatively straightforward and easy to follow. Documentaries often feature just one or two narrators who take turns to speak and don’t use too many slang words or expressions so it’s easy to follow along.
This French comedy-drama, translated to “The Toy” is from 1976 is directed by the renowned comedy director Francis Veber. Not only is it a fun watch, but it’s a great film for beginners to get a feel of French jokes and humor.
In the film, a young boy who feels neglected by his father decides to buy a “toy”, a journalist who he hires to spend time with him and be his friend. The two eventually bond and become real friends which also affects the boy’s relationship with his real father.
This buddy dramedy was released in 2011 and is the second biggest box office hit in French cinema history and that year’s winner for Best Film at the Caesar Awards. It is the most viewed French film in the world, with 51.4 million tickets sold by 2014.
French-speakers and others really enjoy this movie, and you will too. It features a fun and unlikely friendship between an “angry” young Frenchman and a rich quadriplegic who hires him to be his companion and caretaker.
This 1995 French comedy, translated to “Family Resemblances” is a great French movie for beginners as it won’t just help you learn the language but also gain some insights into the family dynamics of French-speaking cultures.
The film happens over the course of one night as an “average” French family gathers to celebrate a birthday by having a nice meal at a restaurant. Through the course of the night, the family’s history is revealed including both the good and the bad.
This dystopian action thriller released in 2004 is directed and produced by Luc Besson. It’s credited with introducing the sport of “parkour” to the action-loving public at large. Every Hollywood movie that has some chase sequence where the protagonists leap and flip and basically fly all over your screens in an urban environment owes a lot to Banlieue 13.
Être et avoir, which translates to “To Be and To Have” is a 2002 documentary film about a small rural school.
The documentary chronicles a single school year in the primary school of a small commune (population just over 200) in south-central France. The school has one class of mixed ages (four to twelve years old) and one dedicated teacher.
The film provides an interesting look into both the educational system of France and life in a small community.
This 1966 comedy film, translated to “The Great Stroll”, is set during World War II. It focuses on some French civilians as they attempt to help the crew of a downed Royal Air Force boomer gets out of German-occupied territory.
This movie was the most successful French film in France for forty years after its release and its still the fifth most successful film ever in the country.
This film stars two of the most famous and renowned modern French film performers, the actress Catherine Deneuve and the actor Gérard Depardieu.
The film was released in 2010 but is set in 1977. It’s quite a feminist tale with some interesting and entertaining points to make about the differences between the sexes.
In the film, a formerly meek housewife finds herself having to step up and take over the running of her husband’s factory when he has a heart attack. To everyone’s surprise, she turns out to have quite the understanding of business and doesn’t just successfully run the day to day operations but also gains the loyalty of the employees.
This is a fun little fantasy comedy heavy on the time-traveling shenanigans. The protagonists, a 12th-century knight, and his squire find themselves traveling through time to the 20th century and find themselves basically, well, men out of time.
This movie was the highest-grossing film in France when it came out in 1993 and is the fourteenth highest-grossing French film ever. It’s spawned two sequels and an American remake called Just Visiting that was released in 2001.
This 1998 animated film based on West African folk tales was successful enough to have two sequels. The hero, Kirikou, needs to save his village from an evil witch called Karaba.
Though Kirikou is just a “newborn”, he can already speak and walk and has a quick and clever mind that allows him to help the people of his village out of several dire predicaments. It’s a fun story that is beautifully animated which will help you learn French.
The movies we listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the world of French cinema. There’s more out there that you should check out.
One of the best ways to find some more good French movies for beginners is to ask a native French-speaking tutor. Tell your tutor that you want to watch French movies for fun and learning, they are sure to have a few more good suggestions.
Talking about French movies that you have seen is also a good topic of conversation and you can suggest to your tutor that you discuss movies in order to practice your French. When you are introduced to French speakers, movies they loved or would recommend are also a good icebreaker topic.
What is the most powerful tool for learning a foreign language? It is our memory.
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