I have a confession to make.
I suffer from FOMO.
That’s Fear Of Missing Out (it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary).
I love having the 411 on all things: weddings, birthdays, births, parties, elections, celebrity gossip, politics.
A day doesn’t start without my reading the news. I’ve gotta keep up.
True, in this day and (information) age, it’s easy to succumb to news overload.
But that doesn’t mean you should do away with the news altogether, especially if you’re learning French.
It’s all about being strategic. You just have to make the French news work for you.
Indeed, if you read the news in French, not only will you get informed, but your French will improve as well.
It’s a win-win situation for someone like me and all my other FOMO sufferers out there.
In this post, we’ll look at the latest guided resources beginners and intermediates can use to learn French with news, as well as some authentic resources you may not have even heard of that offer unique advantages for advanced learners.
So whether you’ve tried learning with the news but still feel like you can’t keep up, you think you’re an advanced French news expert or you’re brand-new to French news and have no idea what’s going on in the Francophone world, we’re betting you’ll find something in this post you otherwise would have missed out on.
But first, a quick recap of the benefits to learning French with news.
What French News Can Do for Learners at All Levels
Engaging with news in the French language is a fantastic way to learn French online. Print, audio, audio-visual—all forms of news can be put to good use.
Regardless of what you choose, French news can…
- Increase your familiarity with French sentence structure. As you learn French, you’ll soon get used to the fact that sentences typically follow a Subject-Verb-Object structure.
You’ll also learn that French is a language full of exceptions with no rhyme or reason that require rote memorization to be mastered. By engaging with French news, you’ll grow used to French turns of phrase.
- Solidify your understanding of the past tense. The passé compose, the most frequently used past tense in French, is also the form of the past tense you’ll see most often in the news.
French language news is therefore a great way to experience this versatile past tense in its auxiliary verb-having, sometimes subject-verb agreeing, occasionally exceptional glory.
- Improve your storytelling game. Being fluent means being able to comfortably express yourself in a language. Whether it be in French or English, in order to become a good writer, you’ve got to read.
And the more you read, the more you’ll realize that good storytelling entails vivid, varied language and transitions that are smooth as butter. The news can help you with all of that.
- Improve your French argument style. If you can win an argument in a foreign language, it means you’ve got a good grip on it. Editorials and opinion pieces around current events provide great exposure to two of the main French argument styles: “Thesis, antithesis, synthesis” and “dissertation.”
- Gain insight into the French-language world. Last but certainly not least, keeping up with the news in French provides insight into political and cultural values, social practices and norms across the Francophone world.
How to Learn French with the News Even If You Have No Idea What’s Going On
French News for Beginner and Intermediate Learners
As a beginner or intermediate French learner, your main goals should be improving your listening comprehension and building your vocabulary. This is where the news comes in handy. But at this stage, you might find it difficult to digest the news in its pure, authentic form.
That’s why we’re going to look at lots of sites that make it easier with guided lessons and practice for French news.
BBC Learn French
A one-stop resource for news in French for beginner and intermediate learners, BBC Learn French features a diagnostic test to help you figure out your level.
Afterwards, you can roam the links to French TV and radio news sites. Just scroll down to the “French news, TV and radio” section where you’ll find resources from across the French-speaking world.
There’s also a host of grammar and vocabulary lessons for French learners young and old.
TV5MONDE’s Apprendre le français (Learn French)
A Francophone global news channel, TV5MONDE features a wide array of lessons for beginner and intermediate French learners based on current events, interviews and news clips. The practice materials include dictation exercises, pronunciation practice and webdocs.
There are also materials grouped according to theme, such as study guides and videos (with accompanying transcriptions) for dictations.
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.
This is an online platform and learning community that uses topical French audio content to provide French language instruction on the go.
DailyFrenchPod’s system entails listening to the free daily French news podcast (which is based on recent news), reviewing content with support materials (PDF transcripts) and practicing with exercises organized according to level.
This site is a must for news in French for beginners and intermediates looking to give their listening comprehension skills a boost.
News in Slow French
The expression “you get what you pay for” really rings true for News in Slow French. This subscription service (offering news in French for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners) provides audio of news stories at a slow, understandable pace, along with lessons and worksheets on French grammar and French expressions.
Depending on your subscription level, you can get it as a French news podcast, an in-depth language course or something in between.
Brought to you by the same people who create quality radio programming for Francophone audiences, RFI Savoirs is a great resource for learners and teachers of French.
Not only are there a host of in-depth videos and radio broadcasts in simplified and standard French grouped according to themes (economy, culture, geopolitics, health, history) there’s also a community aspect to the site. Users can ask for feedback on writing, pose questions and participate in cross-cultural engagement.
Just select Participer (Participate) from the upper menu.
LingQ is an immersion app that allows you to import content from anywhere on the web, including news sites, to use within the program. Vocabulary and tracking tools are available to apply to their flexible learning method.
Similar to LingQ, Mosalingua is another app that lets you focus on and learn from real-world content like authentic French news.
When you use the desktop version of MosaLingua, you can learn from content on the web (they’ve actually recommended using news sites on their blog) using their vocabulary and flashcard tools.
French News for Advanced Learners
There will come a time (and it will come sooner than you think) in your French-learning adventure when you’ll most benefit from material meant for Francophones. In other words, news in the French language, written for French native speakers.
At this stage, guided practice will be less useful for you. Indeed, as an advanced French learner, you should focus most on further improving your grammatical agility and taking your speaking skills above and beyond in order to achieve fluency.
This is where French news sources come in. Use the resources below to put together your own advanced French news workout:
- Sharpen your composition skills by summarizing a passage from a text and then arguing for a specific viewpoint while being sure to incorporate advanced grammar (such as the beloved subjunctive) and logical connectors.
- Another idea is to rewrite passages of text using the passé simple (simple past) just for, you know, kicks.
- Why not test out your speaking chops and record yourself as you summarize the main points of an article and then express your opinion at the end?
L’Obs, once known as Le Nouvel Observateur (The New Observer) is a French news magazine. You can easily select topics that interest you from the upper menu.
As a bonus, L’Obs has a French-language conjugation app you can use to check your grammar while keeping your mind in French-mode.
This weekly print and online news source is comprised of French translations of news articles and editorials from newspapers all over the world, from Colombia to Congo.
Published in French, English and Spanish, Mediapart is an advertisement-free site that’s divided into two major sections: news and investigative reporting. It’s a great site for boosting all your comprehension skills, since you can watch videos in French and read the associated articles.
Brought to you by the folks at RFI, Mondoblog is an ambitious global platform that brings together Francophone perspectives and viewpoints from all over. Mondoblog touts a team of 800 bloggers from 70 countries. How’s that for impressive?
Learning French with news means never missing out on an opportunity to keep up with your French language skills or the 411.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.