Phenomenal intermediate French resources are sitting right under your nose.
These resources offer unique, high-quality learning material perfect for an intermediate level of French.
They also offer many visual, audio and written features that compete with those of formal language programs.
They can be accessed on any device that connects to the internet, they’re constantly being updated and they’re free.
They provide a variety of tools for practicing your French, they’re overflowing with endless real-world content—oh, and did I mention? They’re free!
The mysterious resources I’m talking about here are French news networks.
Let’s face it: Intermediate French can be difficult.
The honeymoon period of your language learning journey is over, your progress seems sluggish and your climb to fluency is tough and sometimes tiring.
But with the right learning material, you can easily beat the intermediate French blues!
That’s where the news comes in.
Besides all the wonderful podcasts you can listen to, blogs you can follow and books you can devour, you can now tap into some of the most diverse and extensive French-language networks right in your own home.
You Want Me to Watch the News?
Short answer: Yes!
News networks are an invaluable resource for learners of French, and in the age of the internet, you can access their content easily and use it to your advantage in a variety of ways.
Watching, listening to or reading the news are excellent ways to learn vocabulary, see grammar being used properly in real situations and experience the French language in a modern, ever-changing environment.
The news is perfect for learning intermediate French, mostly because of its structure. Even if you have trouble following the actual spoken language, information is often broken up into segments such as world news, domestic news, weather, sports and others, making it easier to grasp the general ideas. It’s like news stations are dividing their broadcasts into digestible modules just for you!
Because of this, the news allows learners to easily follow reports and conversations. Reports revolve around a particular topic, often one that is referred to by a predetermined headline or supporting article. Even the interviews are predictable, especially when they follow a basic question-and-answer style.
The best part about the news is that it is, more often than not, exceptionally high-quality learning material.
The sound for TV and radio is immaculate, and the language comes to viewers in a crisp and clear format for easy listening. This benefits French learners immensely, especially when the internet seems to be crowded with low-quality sound-bites that are supposed to teach proper pronunciation. It’s impossible to sound French when you can’t hear the people you’re supposed to imitate clearly!
Accessing the News Online (with Bonuses!)
Aside from the inherent benefits provided by using the news as language learning material, many French news networks are specifically catering to French learners.
In addition to their written, audio and video content available online, many of these networks have created targeted media to help French learners understand the news and increase their overall competency in the French language.
Some of them have also made their regular content more accessible by providing additional materials, such as transcripts for video and audio.
Another great option for learning French with a wide variety of modern, relevant content is FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
So what news networks will give you a good helping of actualité (news) and intermediate French online? Check out the top 6 news websites for intermediate French learners.
6 Select News Hubs for Owning Intermediate French Online
1. BBC Afrique
In true BBC fashion, BBC Afrique offers comprehensive news coverage of the world’s developing stories. Learners can access stories in written and video formats pertaining to world events, sports news, culture and technology. But the coverage doesn’t stop there.
BBC Afrique is unique in the sense that it offers a large amount of its actual TV and radio shows online. You can listen to daily bulletins of major news stories, download entire morning, midday and evening reports and even tune in to the radio en direct (live). Learners can also watch entire shows about sports, culture and music. The best part is that the BBC is well-rounded and offers news from all ends of the spectrum, so the topics are endless.
TV5MONDE is a full service news agency that has also taken the time to create a fantastic resource for learners of all competencies with their Apprendre le français (learn French) lessons. The program features modules focusing on a range of subjects, and each has listening comprehension materials, exercises and short grammar lessons for practice. To date, there are over 100 modules to choose from at the intermediate level.
In particular, their series entitled “7 jours sur la planète” (“7 Days on the Planet”) features pertinent news topics from all over the world. They’ve covered US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the history of one of France’s most beloved foods: the baguette.
In addition to its intermediate French modules, TV5MONDE also offers a French proficiency test that grades a learner’s competency in accordance with the European Union’s language learning framework.
3. France 2
France 2 is primarily a news station, but provides other features as well. Online viewers can watch the day’s news reports online in shows such as “13 Heures” (“1 o’clock”) and access special interest documentaries on subjects such as the Second World War.
France 2 also offers a large variety of videos that touch on all types of media so you can catch up on episodes from popular French TV shows or see the latest highlights of your favorite sports teams.
When you’re not watching the news reports, you can use the site to play online games to boost your reading and listening comprehension and improve your French skills. Who doesn’t like a good game now and then, and what’s better than one that lets you practice French?
Aside from offering learners the opportunity to watch or listen to reports live, Euronews helps intermediate learners understand the news like never before.
For each video clip on the site, there’s a corresponding text. The texts are accurate, word-by-word transcriptions of what’s actually being said in the news stories so that learners can follow along. This is especially helpful for when you don’t understand a particular word. Simply pause the video, find the word in the transcription, look it up and press play on the video to continue where you left off.
Euronews also has an extensive social media network where learners of French can access news on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as listen to podcasts in the French language. Making French news part of your social media life will make even passive browsing an opportunity to practice.
5. Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale (RFI) offers many resources for intermediate French learners in addition to their extensive coverage of world news. These offerings include a course in business French and numerous listening exercises. They have podcasts featuring characters such as Kwamé, an African gardener who explores the history and culture of Africa in “Le Talisman brisé” (“The Broken Talisman”) and a British journalist in the bilingual crime serial “L’affaire du coffret” (“The Matter of the Small Box”).
Perhaps the best feature of RFI’s website for learners, however, is the “Le journal en français facile” (“The News in Simple French”). Each day, a news bulletin is uploaded so that intermediate learners can hear real news stories told in a level of French that is easy for them for understand.
Furthermore, the “Fait du jour” (“Spotlight of the Day”) focuses on a single news clip from the day that you can listen to and complete exercises on, and “Mots de l’actualité” (“Words in the News”) allows you to learn about a word used in the day’s news that may be new.
6. France 24
France 24 is just like any news agency in the sense that it covers big stories from all around the world, but it has taken a particularly interactive approach. Aside from being able to watch and listen to its shows and reports online, French learners can watch long-form video journalism from correspondents all over the world and participate in France 24’s webdocumentaires (web-documentaries).
During a webdocumentaire, learners use interactive info-graphics and modules to understand current events. For example, you can explore all the evidence that authorities have in a shooting connected with the Charlie Hebdo attacks or use interactive media to understand the conflict in Gaza. This innovative approach not only makes for impactful journalism, but for epic learning.
So what are you waiting for?
Get out there, devour current events and learn French at the same time!