Video is an extremely powerful tool to teach French.
Especially if you’re trying to reach modern French students.
Yet, videos are often underrated: If you’re having this much fun, it can’t be working, right?
Watching a video is the best thing you can do to recreate immersion wherever you are, and at a relatively low cost.
Plus with modern technology, you’re just a click away from your next lesson.
So the real issue, then, is finding the right content that is suitable to your students’ level, which will keep them both challenged and entertained. And that’s exactly why we’ve put together this list for you of the best French videos out there!
How to Best Use Videos in Your French Classes
Videos can help enliven your classes… or put your students to sleep. It really is up to you to make sure the content is interesting, and that your students make the most of it. So without further ado, here are some fun activities that will keep your French learners on their toes.
This is a great way to make sure that your students are following and understanding the video as it progresses. Let your students watch the video and pause it at the end of a scene or major dramatic turnpoint. Ask students to describe what they see, who the main characters are, their appearance and to summarize what they are saying.
Let everyone participate and chime in with what they’ve picked up. This will emulate students and generate more conversations, as well as help your students who haven’t been able to fully grasp what they watched to catch on.
This is a another playful activity and a student favorite. Mute the video and let students take over the dialogues. What are the characters saying now? Choose as many students to act as voice-over stars as there are actors in a scene.
To make it more realistic, ask a girl to play a female character and a boy to play a male character—or go the opposite route for increased entertainment. Let students get in character by standing at the front of the class and mimicking what the “real” actors are doing on screen.
Anything is allowed, but students should observe and be mindful of characters’ expressions. Their tone of voice should be as expressive as possible and match the feeling of the actors.
Let them have fun with it, and let their classmates decide how they did. Do they think this is what the characters really said? Would they have made this choice? Would students have said it like their classmate actors did? Make sure that everyone has a chance to take over and experience stardom for a bit.
Do you ever watch a movie and feel the need to tell your friends what you think is going to happen? Your students do, too! At various instances during the film or clip, pause the video and take a poll: What do your students think will happen next? What will the hero say, do or choose?
Get them excited about it: This time, they’ll be rewarded if they are right. The winner gets a point, and whoever scores the most points, wins.
Now that you know how to use videos, let’s dive in straight to what matters most: Finding the best content for your French learners!
Many of the video clips in the featured list below can be watched on FluentU, an online immersion platform built especially for classroom teachers and students. Not only does FluentU offer engaging videos, but it also has scaffolding which isn’t available anywhere else; students will find authentic content approachable and within reach.
All videos are sorted into six levels—from newbie to native—and categorized by category, so you can easily find just what you are looking for. Say goodbye to hours searching YouTube for the perfect clip, and hello to focusing on actually teaching your students!
Every word is carefully annotated so that your French learners have plenty of support. Each word comes with an in-context definition, image, audio and multiple example sentences. You can even click on a word to see how it is used in other videos across the site.
Perhaps the most interesting part of FluentU is its Learn Mode. Learn Mode takes videos and turns them into French learning lessons. The lessons are fully personalized, as the student’s learning history is taken into account when presenting questions. FluentU’s algorithm sets your students up for success by teaching them based on what they already know.
While you can definitely build an in-class lesson around FluentU, the online platform provides students with engaging at-home practice, with fresh new videos being added every week. You can assign videos, audios or flashcards to your classes with a single click, and FluentU will track the progress of each individual student. Try it free for 15 days today!
The Ultimate Selection of French Videos for Students at Any Level
There is a plethora of content out there, but only the crème de la crème has made the cut. One thing to keep in mind: Student levels matter tremendously when choosing the type of video content for your lesson, so make sure that you pick videos that are appropriate to the level of understanding of your students.
Here is what every absolute beginner and novice should watch to fast-track their learning experience:
These colorful videos are perfect for your K-2 students. Highly entertaining and available for free on YouTube, they are a collection of popular French children’s songs, all sung by various friendly, animated characters.
All videos are very brief, making it easy for you to jump straight to your lesson, recap the essentials and play them over and over again. We particularly love the clip featuring “Promenons-nous dans les bois” (Let’s walk in the woods) and “Un kilomètre à pied, ça use les souliers” (One kilometer on foot, it wears on shoes), a song often used to teach children how to count.
Who in France doesn’t know (and love!) Toto? The notoriously cheeky French student has been celebrated by children from all over the Hexagon for his ingenious jokes, ability to circumvent the schooling system and unparalleled resourcefulness.
If you are looking for fun, highly entertaining short stories where students can also learn key grammar and vocabulary in a simple manner, this is what you need. FluentU has a fantastic collection of Toto videos that are perfect for beginners.
We particularly love “The Shower,” which covers the days of the week and passé composé with great humor and efficacy, and “The New Headmaster,” a hilarious video that features Toto in a difficult encounter.
Use the video as an introduction to practice questions using the structure described in the video, present tense verbs and some colloquialisms. A simple way to do this is by role playing. Pair students and have them take turns asking and answering questions. Rotate and eventually ask them what they think about Toto: Do they know someone with the same personality? What do they think?
This is the best collection of English and French videos for absolute beginners. All the essential topics are covered to master basic conversation in a few weeks, including greetings, introducing yourself, counting and more.
Use them as a basis and expand the elements discussed by letting students formulate their own sentences using the words and concepts mentioned, and by asking students questions on the points they may have missed.
For access to more content from FrenchPod101, including material through the advanced level, consider subscribing on their site. You’ll get access to over 1100 audio and video lessons, along with PDF lesson notes you can use to help guide your students and expand upon for your own lessons.
These popular 2-minute YouTube clips are all made in France by Pierre, a friendly French native. All videos have subtitles, making it easy to follow for your beginner students.
In his videos, Pierre covers the basics in an interactive, approachable and comprehensive manner. His videos all incorporate a highly cultural component, including Christmas vocabulary, popular idioms and even French cooking.
Start with Pierre’s French language test on video, a playful and engaging way to evaluate your students’ progress. Use the resources discussed by Pierre to add your own cultural perspective and ask students to compare with their own culture.
This YouTube channel features a wide array of videos to help your students master the basics of the French language. Ideal for intensive sessions or to focus on a specific language point, you will find numerous brief videos on JeFrench—think of them as mini-French lessons.
Very popular with learners and teachers alike, all videos found on this YouTube channel incorporate images, text and audios, making videos easy to follow for absolute beginners and beginners alike. Topics range from vocabulary and grammar to conjugation.
To-the-point and interactive, we particularly like the fact that all voice-over content is being read aloud by a native French speaker. This is important for your students who have had limited to no exposure to the French language, and is critical in helping them develop good listening and pronunciation skills.
Finding content for intermediate learners can be tricky. Overly simple videos will prove unchallenging and may result in decrease in motivation, whereas videos that are too difficult may result in frustration and abandonment.
Not to worry! These videos are perfect to keep your intermediate learners stimulated and help them achieve fluency in no time.
This is the show that put Jean Dujardin in the spotlight.
Highly popular in the 2000s (and still iconic today), this humorous show follows the daily adventures of Chouchou and Loulou, a typical Parisian couple with a lot of personality.
FluentU has an extensive selection of the series’s most hilarious and notorious episodes. Our personal favorites include “Cutting in Line,” about the couple’s adventures at a local supermarket and “Does This Scale Make Me Look Fat?,” where Chouchou’s better half has to tiptoe around a highly sensitive subject in the life of every couple—dealing with weight expectations and body perception.
Beyond the comedic aspect of this short video, it is a perfect way to teach your students key expressions about surprise and dismay, as well as to review the imperative tense.
Complement your imperative lesson with this clip of “Parking the Car,” an everyday task that can be funny to watch, depending on the driver.
A French YouTube star from Senegal, Pat has made a name for himself thanks to his hilarious YouTube videos, all of which have topped a million views.
On his channel, Pat keeps it short and sweet, and always entertaining. Spontaneous and unscripted, his videos incorporate mainly spoken French and some slang—the ideal content for intermediate learners.
Another popular French YouTuber, Cyprien has gained notoriety for his quirky, fun French videos.
Since Cyprien speaks fast, his videos are best for upper intermediate and even advanced learners. He uses mainly spoken French, though, and you have the option to add subtitles in all his videos.
FluentU features an extensive selection of our favorite Cyprien videos. Your students will delight in “Apple Watch,” where Cyprien imitates Apple CEO Tim Cook as he praises the new Apple Watch’s features—and contradicts himself in the process. Ideal for teaching negation (and irony!), this video is terribly funny and will get your most uptight students bursting into laughter.
Also check out “An Apartment in Paris,” where Cyprien discusses his struggles finding the home of his dreams in the French capital, using his characteristic sarcasm and over-the-top humor with the passé composé.
If you are looking for more “serious” videos, 7Jours consists of a large selection of authentic French news videos extracted directly from TV5MONDE, all with subtitles, and all under 10 minutes.
If you’ve been looking for topical content for intermediate learners, this is what you need.
Our favorite videos include “Homosexuality in Africa,” which touches upon a taboo subject in a delicate, objective and informed manner, and “Racism,” which discusses France’s struggle with differences and how it impacts society. Feel free to use them as conversation starters by getting your students’ perspective on issues affecting the French-speaking world, or by asking students to compare both cultures.
Content for advanced French learners is arguably the most challenging (and, let’s say it, interesting!) type of content. Here are some great videos that are perfect for your superior to proficient learners, who speak almost like French natives.
TED needs no introduction. This global conference network features talks on technology, innovation and compelling ideas from interesting speakers who are authorities in their fields. But did you know that TED also has talks in French as well?
That’s right! We can’t think of a more incredible way to get your curious learners more vested in perfecting their language skills, and to show them that mastering the language will, genuinely, open a new world of opportunities.
FluentU features a solid collection of interesting TED Talks in French. We highly recommend checking out “Giving the Data Back to the Consumer” (part 1 and part 2), about the importance of sharing with the consumer marketing data collected about the consumer.
Your most curious learners will love you for introducing them to this fascinating French YouTube channel.
There are no subtitles (it is a French-only zone here), so it requires more focus and dedication than other content, but the reward is immense. What better way to acquire technical vocabulary—and to learn about science—than from an actual French science channel?
Netflix is a fantastic tool to teach the French culture and language, yet it is one that is often forgotten. Luckily, we have a gathered a great selection of French movies on Netflix for you.
Seasonal and ever-changing, this selection evolves constantly with new additions that include a mix of French blockbusters and classics, so you never get tired of old content and keep your lessons fresh and current.
We particularly love “Haute Cuisine” and “Le Chef,” both about the eccentric masterminds behind exciting French cuisines, and “The Chorus,” which received a BAFTA in 2005 and follows unruly children living in a boarding house in the 1950s who found an escape through singing.
And if your students prefer love stories, try “Marius” and “Fanny,” both based on the notorious novels of Provence’s most celebrated writer, Marcel Pagnol. Beyond the language component of these films, you will be exposing your students to 20th century French literature. What’s not to love about that?
13. French TV
If you prefer more topical, mainstream content that is unscripted, you’ll love our selection of videos from French TV channels. After all, this is what the French themselves watch back home—and you can bring it to your classroom, free of charge and almost instantaneously.
More complex, these videos feature no subtitles and are as real and “natural” as it gets. Here are our favorites:
- Canal Plus — The cable channel is known for its irreverence and criticism of the political status-quo.
“Le Zapping” and “Les Guignols” are institutions and must-watch shows. They provide a brief recap of the news of the day under a strong editorial angle. Getting your students’ opinion on how information is handled and reported on this show can give rise to very interesting conversations.
- France 5 — Known for its more intellectual editorial line, this public channel offers interesting shows that will provide an interesting glimpse of what the French ‘elite’ and educated general public like to watch (debates, debates, debates!)
“C dans l’air” (It is in the air) is a perfect example of a great debate show. Every weekday, this show gathers a panel of academics, political stakeholders and businessmen to discuss a hot issue. The show is rich in information and is designed to help viewers form an opinion about complex problems. Use it as a starting point to a great class debate. Feel free to encourage students to take notes that could be useful to back their stance on a certain question, and let them speak.
- France 2 — More mainstream than France 5, this public channel is notoriously watched by a broad demographic throughout the country.
Viewers love “On n’est pas couché” (We’re not sleeping yet!), a talk show featuring the hottest entertainers and politicians of the moment. Highly effective at testing your students’ ability to understand spoken French (often spoken at a very fast pace), it is also a great way to expose them to current French pop culture and pop news.
Now that you have a great selection of videos, you are fully equipped to recreating a real immersion experience without leaving your classroom. We hope that you enjoy them!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach French with real-world videos.