You’ve just finished a great French novel, and you’re ready to try something new.
Maybe you want to read some short stories or catch up on some features about those sports players you keep reading about in the newspaper.
Or maybe you’d like to test your French vocabulary skills with some games and puzzles.
Luckily, French magazines abound—and vary in topic from fashion to sports to general interest. With the variety and accessibility on the internet, there’s something for everyone.
How to Use Magazines to Learn French
What’s so great about the structure of a magazine is that it’s filled with many different kinds of content. One page will contain a photo essay, another a crossword puzzle, and yet another a long feature. This is great for learning a new language because you experience it in several different ways in one single publication.
While books exercise your reading comprehension over a long narrative, magazines teach you to jump from a different kind of content to the next. This will train your brain to process the language in different ways, which is essential to becoming fluent. In general, magazines are written for the general public, meaning the language will be easier to understand.
And magazines don’t only offer engaging articles—they often give great recommendations for the best current movies, books, and TV shows, which are all great resources for practicing your listening and comprehension skills.
If you’re living in France, most of these magazines can be purchased at your local kiosque à journaux (newsstand). If not, you can either order them online through their respective websites or a vendor like Plus de Mags or Uni-Presse to be delivered to your home.
You can also visit their websites to read the articles and features that often appear in their print edition. Just like newspapers, magazines typically post the same content online as they do in their print magazines—and navigation tabs on the website make for easy searching.
For well-rounded learning, be sure to mix in other authentic French materials alongside your magazine reading. FluentU is especially helpful for various reasons.
It provides French videos that have built-in learning tools (like clickable subtitles, professional English translations, flashcards and fun quizzes). The videos are organized by level and include everything from movie clips, to music videos, to inspiring speeches.
You’ll be immersed in real French content without ever worrying about missing a word.
The Top 5 Types of Magazines to Learn French Best
What kind of magazines are offered in French? Think of any topic you’re interested in, and you’re most likely going to find it. Here are some of the best kinds of magazines to help you learn new vocabulary and keep your French skills sharp.
1. Puzzle magazines
Puzzle-focused magazines represent a great challenge for language learners. They’re filled with crosswords and word-inspired games that are filled with potentially unfamiliar vocabulary words. If you pick up one of these magazines, pick up your dictionary, too—and get ready to learn some new words!
If you’re a beginner, treat this as an exercise to learn new vocabulary, and if you’re advanced, treat it as a chance to challenge your own knowledge. Try completing one puzzle per day—and up the level as your French improves and you become more familiar with the puzzles.
Crosswords are often difficult even for native French speakers, so don’t be discouraged if you find mots croisés (crosswords) difficult. Tired of crosswords? Try mots fléchés (arrow puzzle) or mots mêlés (word search).
We’re all familiar word searches, but what’s an arrow puzzle? An arrow puzzle is a variant of a crossword that does not have as many black squares as a true crossword, but has arrows inside the grid, with clues preceding the arrows. Not specifically French, it’s said to come from Sweden. They’re hugely popular in Europe, and you’ll often find arrow puzzles in puzzle magazines in France.
2. Sports magazines
The French love their sports, and the variety of magazines available for sports enthusiasts certainly displays that. From Onze Mondial, a soccer magazine, to Le Cycle, a biking magazine, there is something for everyone.
Just like magazines published in English, these often-monthly publications will typically feature recaps and previews of tournaments and games while also giving tips for novice players. If you’re a tennis player, you may get to read predictions for the French Open right after an article about how to perfect your forehand. It’s possible you’ll even find a crossword puzzle at the end where you can practice your tennis vocabulary!
A great way to combine two ways of keeping up with French—reading and listening—is to watch the sports news after you’ve read the most recent edition of a sports magazine. This will complement what you’ve read by providing more updated information and further specifics on tournaments and players. It will also test your comprehension skills on what you’ve read in the magazine. Try reading a few pages and watching the news at least once every day.
If you’re local, sports magazines are a great source for discovering new places to hone your skills. For example, skiing magazines suggest the best locations to spend a weekend hitting the slopes. A soccer magazine might list community and intramural clubs where you can grab some friends and play for fun. This encourages mingling with others and improving your language skills in a completely unfamiliar setting—on the practice field.
3. Literary magazines
There are many benefits to picking up a literary magazine in French—not only do you get to read some of the best short stories and poetry in the French literary scene, but you also get to discover new writers and poets. Of course, there is always a distinct challenge (just like when you pick up a new French novel) to understand the nuances and underlying meanings in the writing.
Pull that dictionary back out that you had when working on your crossword puzzle before you dive into a new poem or story. If you have any trouble, consider reading some background on the writer or use Word Reference forums to look up peculiar words and phrases. Aim to complete a literary magazine once a month, and read a few stories or poems per week. Soon you’ll be comfortable enough reading one magazine per week!
Just like sports magazines, literary magazines tend to list great bookstores or readings in the area if you’re local. This is a great opportunity to discuss with other literary lovers what you’ve read recently, and will help you practice your vocabulary. It will also discuss the latest news—who’s won recent awards, what book was highly reviewed, and other interesting information.
4. Fashion magazines
French fashion magazines are perhaps the most famous magazines in France, most likely because an English version exists for many of them. They’re also a great tool for learning new vocabulary relating to clothes and fashion, since many pages are filled with visual aids like photos of clothes, shoes, models, and make-up accompanied by the name of the product. These words often repeat throughout the magazine, too, reinforcing new knowledge and anchoring your reading with familiar terms and phrases.
Fashion magazines are a great staple for everyday reading, since they contain many photos and are often written in language that a wide audience can understand. Consider reading an article or a few pages every day, and practice identifying the articles of clothing, accessories or makeup titles you learned while reading as you go through your day.
If you enjoy fashion, it also gives you a great conversation topic with friends who also keep up with the magazines—what’s going on at fashion week? Which celebrities changed their fashion style recently? What colors are in for the winter season?
5. News magazines
Picking up a news magazine is a great change from a newspaper because it typically contains more photo essays, giving you an opportunity to read articles with more visual aids. Features are longer and more in-depth, giving extra detail that may not be found in newspapers. Though magazines don’t provide breaking news stories, they have the unique chance to explore aspects of the news that newspapers just don’t have time for.
Some publications, like Paris Match, will also report on celebrity news and other pop culture information. These pages are great for keeping up with what’s going on in France. Consider the suggested tactic for sports magazines and complement your news reading with a news radio or TV broadcast.
In general, news magazines have a wide variety of information from all over the world—and not just in France. It will catch you up on international news, keep you knowledgeable about French culture and teach you new vocabulary.
Magazines are a great way to learn French; from puzzles to poetry to news features, magazines provide access to the latest news and culture while introducing new vocabulary and testing your French skills. Enjoy!
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
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 learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. You'll receive video recommendations that suit your interests and current level of progress.
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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.