How about some maple syrup popcorn with your next binge-watch?
It’s familiar but deliciously unique.
Just like the French Canadian TV shows you’ll be watching while you snack.
If you’re specifically studying Canadian French, TV shows are the perfect tool to pick up the accent and culture. But they’re also fun and helpful for general French learners who want to mix up their listening practice.
We’ll show you the best French Canadian TV shows and where to watch them tonight.
Why Watch French Canadian TV Shows?
- The accent is different from the European accent. Are you planning to study or work abroad in French Canada? (If so, lucky you!) Even if you’ve studied French in the past, picking up on the French Canadian accent will throw you for a loop.
I’d studied French for five years before I enrolled in my first class with a Québécois professor. It took me an entire semester to figure out what on earth she was saying at any given moment. Watching shows is the perfect way to pick up on this unique accent and hear it in realistic conversations.
- French Canadian culture is distinct. French Canada differs from France in numerous ways, and you can learn about these distinctions by watching TV programs. You’ll familiarize yourself with regional cuisines, the names of public figures and important places—and, of course, you’ll witness some of that famous Canadian friendliness.
- TV shows are shorter than films. I don’t know about you, but when I sit down to watch an entire two-hour film with the intent to learn French, I peter out after about 30 minutes. It’s just so overwhelming!
Some of these series’ episodes are only around 20 minutes long. If you have more time, opt for one of the shows with 45-minute episodes. This timeframe makes learning with shows feel attainable, and learning in snippets could even help you retain more information.
- They provide hours of learning. When you finally finish that two-hour French language film, it’s time to search for another one! But when you commit to one TV series, you have episodes and episodes (maybe even seasons and seasons) of French learning and entertainment.
No more scrolling through Netflix to find just the right thing to watch. And as you see the characters develop over time, you’ll become invested in the storylines. This makes language learning much less laborious.
We’ve also been sure to choose shows with French subtitling options to help you catch every word. If you want to supercharge this type of TV watching, add FluentU into the mix.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the French language and culture over time. You’ll learn French as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with FluentU's adaptive quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning and play the mini-games found in the dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
As you study, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a 100% personalized experience.
It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Spend Your Weekends Binge-watching These 6 Best French Canadian TV Shows
The Best French Canadian Comedy TV Shows
“La Job” (“The Office”)
You may already know that the original TV show “The Office” aired in the U.K. Then the U.S. created its own adaptation, which became insanely famous.
What you may not know, though, is that numerous countries have created their own versions of “The Office,” including Germany, Chile, India and Israel, just to name a few. Canada is no exception.
Following the antics of Les Papiers Jennings (Jennings Papers) and the painfully awkward boss, David Gervais, you’ll learn plenty of vocabulary related to business and life in the office. Pick up on terms such as la réceptionniste (receptionist), l’ordre du jour (agenda) and des mises à pied (layoffs).
If you’ve already fallen in love with the British or American version of “The Office,” this could be the perfect French Canadian TV series to help you learn the local language. You’re guaranteed to love the plot and mockumentary style, and you’ll have fun comparing all the characters to their counterparts in the series from your home country.
You can watch the full series, which is sadly only 12 episodes, on YouTube. The channel provides closed captions in French, so you can follow along by reading if understanding by listening alone is too challenging. This can also help your French reading skills!
“Les Bougon: c’est aussi ça la vie!” (“The Bougons: This Is Life, Too!”)
This show takes a comedic look at poverty and crime in Canada by following the Bougon family.
Once upon a time, the Bougons were a family of upstanding citizens… until the father, Paul, tried to stop illegal trafficking at his job on the harbor and was silenced by the authorities and fired. Now the entire family has denounced “the system,” and they constantly swindle people and businesses out of money.
The characters of “Les Bougon” might remind you of American shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The League” in that all the characters are evil, but you can’t help but love them.
This is the ultimate show to watch if you really want to perfect your comprehension of Canadian French. The characters speak quickly and often mumble. They also use a ton of Canadian French slang.
You can watch this show on YouTube with closed captions in French (the video above will take you to the playlist).
“Dans Une Galaxie Près de Chez Vous” (“In a Galaxy Near You”)
Calling all sci-fi fanatics! If you like “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “Mork & Mindy,” this is probably the French Canadian show for you.
It’s the year 2035… which isn’t so far in the future now, but when the show first aired in the late ’90s, it seemed like an eternity away. In 2035, human pollution on Earth has destroyed the ozone layer. A group of space explorers sets off to find a galaxy that can sustain human life.
This show is a great option for people already familiar with Canadian French slang or who are a tad more advanced in their French studies. It’s full of puns based on local sayings.
Of course, you’ll also learn tons of sci-fi and science-related French terms, like la bonbonne d’oxygèn (oxygen tank), and French names for concepts and organizations you might be familiar with, like l’OTAN (NATO).
Watch “Dans Une Galaxie Près De Chez Vous” on YouTube (click video above) and follow along with French closed captions.
The Best French Canadian Drama TV Shows
“Série noire” (“Crime Thriller”)
“Série noire” is both a drama and a comedy, so whatever you’re in the mood to watch, it’ll scratch that itch.
Follow the antics of Denis and Patrick, two screenwriters who’ve co-written one season of a crime drama TV show. Their show’s first season is loved by audiences but bashed by critics for being unrealistic. They decide they need to kick things up a notch. They need real-world experience to make their second season more believable.
You’ll definitely get your laughs as these goofballs involve themselves with criminals. But you’ll also find yourself enthralled by the dangerous situations they get themselves into.
What kind of dangerous situations, you ask? Well, let’s just say you’ll learn terms such as la sortie de prison (prison release) and attentat à la bombe (bomb attack).
I hope you never have to use these phrases yourself! But if you like to listen to or watch the news in French, you’re bound to hear them again.
You can watch the series on ICI TOU.TV, a video-on-demand site. The only downside is that you either need to be in Canada or use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access this website.
The first month with ICI TOU.TV is free, then it’s only 6.99 CAD (roughly 5.30 USD) per month.
“19-2” is the ultimate police drama. The show follows Nick and Ben, two partners in the Montreal Police Department. They aren’t big fans of each other, but there’s plenty of character development and you see the highs and lows of the men’s relationship.
In case you’re wondering, the show’s name comes from the call sign on the men’s police car.
The French is fairly difficult to follow, so I’d recommend this show for advanced learners. On “19-2,” you’ll hear fast dialogue, street French and vocabulary related to crime and the police force.
Oh, and curse words… lots and lots of Canadian French curse words.
You can watch “19-2” on Google Play. Buy a full season for $19.99 or an individual episode for $1.99. Each episode includes French closed captions!
“Unité 9” (“Unit 9”)
If you like “Orange Is the New Black,” you’ll love “Unité 9.” The characters and storyline are different, but the general idea is the same. The show follows a group of women in prison together.
Sure, you’ll hear prison-related terms, such as la cellule (cell). But that’s not the bulk of what you’ll learn. The women discuss a wide range of topics, from their lives before they ended up in prison, to their piano lessons, to things they want to sneak into their unit from the outside world.
As you can imagine, this prison show doesn’t include clear, concise dialogue. You’ll hear lots of Canadian French slang and colloquialisms.
You can watch this series on TV5MONDE USA. The subscription cost varies depending on your satellite or cable provider. The service provides French closed captions to go with the audio.
What do you want to binge-watch next weekend? A show about writers fighting crime? A drama about women in prison?
Or you could do what we all love to do every weekend… re-watch “The Office.” Except this time, it’ll be in French!
Which of these best French Canadian TV shows sounds most binge-able to you?
Laura Grace Tarpley is an editor at FluentU. She loves tinkering with crossword puzzles and playing with her puppy, Tuna. Follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.
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