Do you check Facebook in the morning before you head to work?
How often do you hop on Twitter to check the news?
And when was the last time you posted a photo on Instagram of your delicious meal?
Social media dominates many of our lives.
So if we’re always refreshing our newsfeed, how can we use that to our advantage while we try to learn a language?
Facebook is probably one of best online tools for learning French. Since most people log on every day, it’s a no-brainer that adding some French to a newsfeed filled with baby photos and engagement announcements will only improve your language learning.
It’s the perfect way to turn an hour of learning about other people’s lives into an hour of learning new French vocabulary, answering that grammar question that’s been bothering you for weeks, and introducing a new idiom to your vocabulary.
Here’s how to make this social media platform your new favorite French-learning tool.
How Learning French with Facebook Will Improve Your Language Skills
Your familiarity with Facebook will give you a base
If you’re a frequent Facebook user, you know how to get around the website without even looking at the buttons—it’s almost instinctive. The major first step in using Facebook as a learning tool is to put the entire website in French.
On the main page, click on the small arrow on the very top right of your Facebook page. Click on “Settings,” then “Language,” which appears on the left side menu. Then, select “French,” and voilà!
Understanding how the website works will give you a major advantage as you start to explore using the new commands in French rather than English. Soon, moving from “home” to the French acceuil and clicking on le profil (profile) of a friend will become a breeze.
Frequent usage gets you familiar with common terms
The more often you use Facebook, the more often you’ll see terms that you not only use often on Facebook, but also in everyday conversation. Some major examples include J’aime (I like), partager (to share), modifier (edit), and amis (friends).
You’ll find yourself becoming used to the French equivalents—and you’ll likely stop translating and just associating the feature to the French term—which is exactly how you’ll become fluent.
When you need help, you have to figure it out in French
One of the best ways to learn words and phrases from a language is to be surrounded by that language—and if you can’t be in a French-speaking country, you can at least force yourself to look at French on Facebook every day.
If you’re having trouble with the website, need some direction or can’t find something, you’ll have to go to the “Help” section (or, in this case, Aide) and figure it out en français.
Additionally, you can further immerse yourself in authentic French content with FluentU.
When you’re forced to use your skills, you often learn it intimately—and quickly, too. You’ll even have to search for what you need in French, which will force you to put together some phrases and sentences.
3 Easy Tricks to Learn French with Facebook
So how do you go beyond switching your Facebook language to French and get some real use out of the website? Here are some great tools for using Facebook and its many features to improve those French skills.
1. “Like” French pages to fill your newsfeed
One of the best ways to fill your newsfeed with more French learning is to “like” (or j’aime) pages, which is essentially a Facebook profile for an organization or website, so that you receive posts by French publications and learning tools.
If you just want to keep up with French news publications, select newspapers and magazines like Le Monde, Le Figaro, Liberation, Le Parisien, Metro, Huffington Post France, Le Point, Paris Match and La Revue. All of these will post news relevant to France and the world almost every day, introducing you to a news article in French in addition to a French Facebook post.
Some will even post a video—and outlets like BBC Afrique, TV5MONDE, France 2 and France 24 are all guaranteed to post news videos in French, as they are all TV news websites.
Some French websites that teach French and have accompanying Facebook pages include The Lazy Frenchie, French Grammar Girl, Insitut français, Grammaire Française, Le Conjugueur, Français interactif and Alliance française.
These will introduce you to games and activities to improve your French grammar skills, and though these pages will often redirect you to their main website, there are also ways to play these games directly on your profile without ever leaving Facebook.
2. Install Facebook apps to enhance your experience
Another great trick Facebook has up its sleeve is the advantage of apps—which includes games, activities and even programs that help you learn a new language that you can “add” to your Facebook.
The difference between an “app” and a “page” is that the app can be installed to your Facebook page and includes some sort of interaction, meaning there are often puzzles and games to get you learning French in a fresh and fun way.
Some of the best include “Learn French,” courtesy of babbel.com, Duolingo (which is also an app for iPhone), Busuu and France FM Radio. Other pages that you can “like” can also be applications, including most of the pages I’ve introduced above. If you go to their main page, you can click on a button that says Utiliser l’application (use the application), and it will be installed on your Facebook account.
What’s also great about apps is that Facebook will often suggest ones that may interest you based on what pages you “like” and what apps you’ve already added. This means that as you add more and more pages that are French learning-related, Facebook will introduce you to learning applications that you can add to your profile.
3. Use features like “groups” and “events” to find French events near you
If there’s another thing that Facebook is really good at, it’s connecting people who live in the same city, just as social media sites often do. More great features of Facebook are its “groups” and “events” pages, where you can join a group, such as a French language group, or find an event, such as a French meetup, and add it to your profile.
For example, in New York City, there’s a group called “NYC Frenchies,” and that group will create events that you will be invited to once you join the group itself. Oftentimes, a group from Meetup.com, an external website where you can search for groups and events within your city, will create a matching group or profile on Facebook.
Sometimes it’s as simple as searching within Facebook for the kind of group you’d like to join; other times, searching online for a group and discovering it on Facebook is the best route. Perhaps the most tried and true method is to simply ask friends where you can find a group in your city—then, add the event related to the group in addition to the group itself to your Facebook feed.
Now that you have the tools, make your Facebook a French-learning mecca! Join a French meetup, “like” some French newspapers and news sites, and play a French vocabulary puzzle.
Soon, “getting on Facebook” won’t mean you’re spending an hour avoiding the real work—it will mean you are doing work. Happy language learning!
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. 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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.