Do your students know what authentic Francophone culture looks like?
If you’re not sure, ask yourself this question:
What French-language resources do you use in your class on a regular basis?
Obvious answers include textbooks, workbooks and accompanying audio material.
If you’re feeling innovative, you might break out the PowerPoints from time to time.
If you and your students crave creativity, you might even already be incorporating TPRS into your lessons. Good for you!
But when was the last time you showed a movie to your French class?
Have you ever listened to French radio with your students?
The truth is, teaching with authentic resources is the way to go. It works like a charm. It engages your students and greatly enhances whatever material you’re already teaching.
But where can you find said authentic resources? Well, the Internet is a goldmine for quality content, but tracking it down can prove incredibly challenging because there’s just so much out there. You may not know where to start, what to look for or how your students will respond to your choices.
The secret to winning your class over, however, is simple: You need to focus on a wide variety of authentic French content.
Before you sigh that the task may now be even more difficult to accomplish, let me reassure you: This article will make it as simple as saying “bonjour !”
We’re going to share with you some superb online places from which you can draw fresh, diverse authentic French material over and over and over again.
So read up, and discover how to find and use high-quality authentic French resources from all over the Francophonie!
Why Teach with a Variety of Authentic French Resources?
- It’s exciting. Let’s face it. Authentic materials are more likely to capture the attention of your students than artificial, learner-focused content. That’s because real native documents have the credibility of being genuinely “French,” that is, used and loved by people immersed in a French-speaking culture and country. As a result, they’re jam-packed with information and elements that will heighten your students’ curiosity and eagerness to learn. That’s right, they’ll want more of it!
- It provides exposure to French-language culture. Using a diversity of authentic French resources opens your students’ horizons to new possibilities and reinforces their exposure to the French-speaking world. That’s right! Rather than restrict yourself to Metropolitan French resources, using authentic resources from countries across the Francophonie is a sure way to enrich your students with real-world knowledge about some of the most vibrant, fastest-growing communities.
- It puts quality content to use. Authentic resources showcase proper usage of the French language, including traditional and new words as they’re introduced along with proper spelling, colorful expressions and unique idioms used by the native French speakers of a given zone or region. This helps to create an authentic learning experience.
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How to Introduce Your Class to French Resources from Across the Francophonie
- Step 1: Discovery Process. Start by putting the resource in context, but keep it brief. Depending on the level of your students, include additional text, images or video clips that are related to the topic in question, or even a more detailed introduction about the resources they’ll be discovering. Pre-teach any keyword or expression that will help to support their understanding.
- Step 2: Accent Game. When using resources with audio, always make it a point to start by asking your students to identify which part of the Francophonie the content comes from. Ask them to give you specific elements to back their stance, including the intonation, melody, rhythm and even words and idiomatic expressions that are used. Aside from helping them recognize and understand a variety of authentic French accents, this is a fun way to introduce what the Francophonie is all about to your students, and to help them realize the full importance of learning French!
- Step 3: Detective Game. The next part is research and investigation. Ask students to use all the tools available to them to make sense of what’s being discussed in/by the resource on their own or, better yet, with a small team of fellow students. In this case, tools can include print and online dictionaries, thesauri and, of course, the team’s own knowledge and brainstorming power. Ask them to come up with a brief report answering essential questions regarding the resource: What’s it about? What’s happening and how? Who are the main players (e.g., people who contribute to a project, people who oppose it…)? Why are they doing what they’re doing? What are your team’s opinions about whatever issues have been raised?
- Step 4: Reporter Game. Then, the teams should concoct a lively five-minute TV-style presentation to discuss the issues raised in the resource. Ask them to take an objective, journalistic approach to the matter. That is, focus on facts rather than opinions, and use proper speech level and terminology. Give them the option to split the team into script writers and presenters (up to two presenters for this option), or to allow everyone to contribute as a presenter by splitting speaking time into one-to-two-minute segments between team members. This can also include the presentation of the issue and a brief field documentary with a “journalist” interviewing people appearing in the video or audio clip, for example. (These might be members of government or society who have an interest in a project or cause mentioned, whether they support or oppose it.)
- Step 5: Actor Game. As an alternative or complement to the Reporter Game, ask teams to now pitch the content or program as if it were a TV or radio ad. The goal is to make it fun and catchy! Ask them to focus on the most interesting elements to a mainstream audience, such as what they’ll learn, why it’s worth watching or what they’ll particularly enjoy. This is a fun activity that will also help students build their argumentative and persuasion skills.
Now that you have some ideas for how to incorporate authentic content into your classes, let’s look at the top places to find it!
16 Top Spots to Find Authentic Resources for Your French Class
Mama Lisa’s World: International Music & Culture
This is a beautiful site featuring songs, rhymes, lullabies and other authentic materials from all around the world. Perfectly suitable for children or beginner French students, this is a place to discover uplifting and simple, yet highly cultural, musical content.
We particularly recommend their selection of children’s songs from France, which includes favorites such as “Alouette, gentille alouette” (Lark, kind lark) or “Am stram gram” (see some background here). You also don’t want to miss out on the beautiful collections of songs from French regions such as Alsace or from French-speaking countries like Belgium or Gabon.
This section of the TV5MONDE site features a collection of lyrics from popular songs in French along with top-quality teaching materials and worksheets to use in your French classroom. Not all songs include worksheets, but you can find lots by heading over to the “Paroles de clips” section.
These worksheets and videos are plenty to keep your students busy for some time! You can browse songs by difficulty level and theme. We’re unable to embed links, but highly recommend that you check out “Puzzle” by Barcella and “Initiales” by David Cairol, both of which have a strong literary feel.
This site is a great place to discover emerging artists from Africa, Canada and European French-speaking countries through the extensive lyrics library. There are over a thousand sets of lyrics from well-known songs to discover and read, but our ultimate favorites remain “À bicyclette” (On a bicycle), a French song adapted by artists from the French reality TV show “Star Academy,” “Premier Gaou,” (First Fool), an Ivorian song by popular band Magic System and “Encore un soir” (Another night) by Quebec superstar Céline Dion.
Speaking of the above, how about adding African music to your French classroom playlist? The fantastic portal of this modern Pan-African cultural site offers free video clips available for streaming without registration or software download.
These videos are a beautiful way to expose your students to the unique lifestyles and colorful, cheerful and lively music from this continent. Each video lists the artist and country of origin to help facilitate your selection. As a bonus, the site features a roundup of African news and country facts. Your class will really enjoy “Kokorico,” a dancy song from Cameroon or “Confirmer,” a happy, engaging song from Guinea.
TV and Videos
If you wish to curate a wide range of high-quality authentic French audio and video resources while also supporting your students’ learning by stimulating all four language skills, then head over to FluentU!
Each video includes (optional) interactive bilingual subtitles along with smart exercises, flashcards and quizzes to turn your videos into effective mini-lessons.
You’ll find authentic French TV shows, video clips and audio that are suitable for learners across every level of fluency. FluentU has a great selection of French YouTubers’ videos, like Cyprien’s “Cyprien the Music Critic” and “Let’s Talk About the Train System in France,” as well as other comedic clips such as “Sexism at the Car Dealership” and “Would You Love Me If…”
No matter the age level, interests or level of your class, you can easily search FluentU’s video library to find the perfect content to slot into a lesson plan or make the featured presentation of the day.
Aside from giving you the opportunity to use FluentU in the classroom, a Teacher account lets you assign students videos for homework and then track their learning and individual progress. How cool is that?
Start using FluentU on the website, or better yet, download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
Are you looking for Belgium’s most popular and trusted TV shows and videos? Then you need to head over to RTBF today! A good way to introduce this channel to your students is to discuss its name: RTBF stands for “Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française,” which means “Belgium radio and TV station for (Belgium’s) French-speaking community.”
The site features neat content, but we particularly recommend heading over to the “Revoir” (replay) section and focusing on general shows such as “Le 12 minutes” (12 minutes) or language shows like “À portée de mots” (Within word-range).
Who doesn’t love la télévision québécoise (Quebec TV)? Télé-Québec is an informative and educational public TV channel featuring content from popular French-Canadian TV shows, children’s programs and documentaries available for streaming.
We particularly love the very adorable show “100% Animal,” a kid and family-friendly show filled with tips and stories about our favorite four-legged furry friends, or “Parents mode d’emploi” (Parents’ owner manual), a hilarious series showing two overwhelmed parents and their three children.
Radio Télévision Suisse
Attracted to the serenity of the green Swiss mountains? What better way to transport your students to the suisse (Swiss) countryside than immerse them in a real Swiss environment? Radio Télévision Suisse (Swiss Radio-Television) is the leading TV network for Switzerland’s French-speaking community.
Incredibly informative, Radio Télévision Suisse gives you access to a wealth of multimedia content and premium TV shows. Our favorites? Without a doubt, “Couleurs locales” (Local flavor), an approachable program focused on local French-Swiss news, cultures and trends, and “À bon entendeur” (You’ve been warned) a trusted consumer show featuring reviews, tests and buying tips, perfect to learn the vocabulary of argumentation and retail products.
France 3 Régions
Ever wished there was a way to familiarize your students with the diversity of accents in metropolitan France? Enter France 3 Régions (France 3 Regions). A popular watch in the Hexagon, France 3 becomes France 3 Régions at certain hours of the day and features regional TV programs.
Programs alternate French speakers with regional accents and interviews featuring real people who speak the particular dialect of the region with French subtitles. We particularly recommend focusing on accents from Alsace, Provence and Aquitaine, since they’re very frequent and difficult.
Podcasts and Radio
Rire et Chansons
Because it’s always time for something funny, your students will absolutely enjoy this popular radio station and their collection of podcasts. You’ll also find jokes, videos and detailed bios of your favorite French-speaking comedy artists, perfect for framing a lesson and filling it with information.
The station features iconic and new one-man-shows along with legendary comedy artists and emerging talents, such as Gad Elmaleh and Coluche, both of whom have a typical Parisian accent, or Jamel Debbouze, known for his heavy Moroccan accent.
Looking for something melodious? Let your students be captivated by the singing accents from Marseille and the Provence region by tuning in to Mistral FM. This local radio station features a wealth of programs and podcasts, including the very upbeat “Les Blagounettes de Jicé,” (JC’s jokes of the day), a very brief dynamic comedy show featuring well-delivered jokes and lots of colorful French idioms and expressions.
Students will also appreciate the daily info news report, another brief program delivering local news. For live news, find the player from the home page by finding “En ce moment sur” (Now on), located below the header on the upper left-hand side, and clicking on “Écoutez maintenant” (Listen now).
Bring your students closer to the French-Canadian culture and expose them to authentic Quebec radio by streaming ICI Radio-Canada’s incredible selection of news and high-quality shows.
Very diverse, this well-respected local radio station gathers together political, society, cultural and lifestyle shows. You’ll particularly want to check out “Aujourd’hui l’histoire,” (Today in history), an investigative, highly-captivating history program filled with anecdotes and stories, and “La Nature selon Boucar,” (Nature according to Boucar), a fascinating science and biology show for educating your students about the planet and life.
The French-speaking African continent is often overlooked in the French classroom. Be sure to remedy that by incorporating some of RFI Afrique’s world-class radio programs into your curriculum.
Aside from 24/7 live news from and about Francophone African countries, you’ll discover some beautiful, positive local shows, including “Couleurs tropicales” (Tropical colors), a musical show highlighting the best and freshest music from the African continent, and “Invité Afrique” (Africa guest), a political and business podcast where African influencers and experts on Africa issues take the stage.
Magazines and Newspapers
Mon Quotidien (My Daily Newspaper)
This kid and teen-friendly French daily newspaper is the perfect resource for quality, accessible French and world news on subjects including politics, the economy, science and society. You’ll need to subscribe for a membership, but you’ll be happy you did.
Members can access fresh articles with highlighted keywords along with explanations, images and activity ideas, as well as comprehensive research on newsworthy topics, infographics and more. You’ll find it all by clicking on the “Dossiers thématiques” (Thematic files) category.
Alternatively, sign up for a free account and read one article of your choice every week. You can also access videos, comics and quizzes for free and without registration.
L’Actu (The News)
More advanced than Mon Quotidien, this daily newspaper is specifically targeted at French high school students looking for a more comprehensive, yet insightful look at French and international news.
Also membership-based, you’ll get access to in-depth, annotated articles and theme documents to guide your students during their reading. They can also register for free, read one article per week and access the study flashcards and infographics used by French teenagers to prepare for the French baccalaureat exam. These are fantastic materials to deepen their cross-cultural knowledge of French subjects and acquire proper terminology on concepts taught in a French high school syllabus.
All You Can Read
This fantastic news aggregator gathers all the leading French-speaking online news sites in one place so you can conveniently find, browse and read news from any French-speaking country, for free. You can browse content by country or territory, including France, Algeria, Mayotte or even Reunion.
Be sure to bookmark your favorite outlets found throughout this site, as you’ll notice that staying on top of so much content can easily become overwhelming. Our personal choices include “L’Express de Madagascar” (The Express from Madagascar), which features authentic news from the French-speaking tropical island, or the French-Canadian newspaper “La Presse” (The Press).
Le Quotidien (The Daily)
This trusted Senegalese newspaper will become your resource of choice for in-depth information and reporting from and about Africa. Completely independent, it’s been publishing a glossy weekly newspaper since 2003 and now continues the good work online.
This is a great place to expose your students to African politics, economy and society in French using content that Senegalese locals read and value. You’ll also find superb investigative articles, opinion pieces and debates, articles about Africa’s rising and famous artists and politicians as well as breaking news content.
Now that you know where to find authentic French resources from all over the Francophonie, we have no doubt that your students will come to fully understand the beauty and diversity of the French language and the cultures that speak it.
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