Pick your poison.
Snapchat? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter?
You’re likely already on multiple social media platforms, but have you ever thought about turning those minutes on social media into French learning opportunities?
Twitter lends itself particularly well to this strategy, because it allows users to link to longer articles, tools, resources and pictures, while still providing bite-sized content.
For the typical French learner looking to save money and time, this is a big bonus.
But just as there are millions of French speakers out there, there’s also a huge range of French Twitter accounts to follow.
Diving into the world of French Twitter can be overwhelming at first, but don’t worry—we’ve broken down the basics and listed some fun and interesting accounts for you to check out.
Why Use Twitter to Learn French?
- You can keep up with language in real-time. Just ask the Merriam-Webster Dictionary folks who recently included web-speak like LOL and emoji in the dictionary. As we change and evolve, so does our language.
It can be hard to keep up if you don’t live in the country of origin. (In fact, my first overseas trip to France and Switzerland left me painfully aware of the fact that I spoke the French of my grandparents). Following French Twitter accounts is an easy, free way to stay on top of the latest language trends.
- You’ll be up-to-date on current events. We all know that when big news breaks, you can track the headlines—and the reactions to the headlines, and the reactions to the reactions—all on Twitter. It’s a great way to learn what issues are important to French speakers and what terms or lingo they use to discuss them.
- You’ll make friends with other French speakers. Of course, the best way to learn French is to practice it, but this requires you to know French speakers and you may not have access to a local French network. Joining in on French Twitter conversations can help you make connections with people you would never encounter otherwise.
- You’ll stumble on an array of resources and information. Sure, you can Google a particular topic you’re interested in, but you’re limited to resources and tools that match your search terms. With Twitter, you’ll discover a wealth of articles, books and other tools through hashtags and by following French accounts.
- You’ll do more French reading: You don’t have to sit down with a book to practice your reading comprehension (although this is a great idea as well). Reading a few short sentences here and there on Twitter can be a very gentle and easy way to increase your exposure to the language.
- You’ll experience a whole new world. Without getting too “Aladdin” on you, we really don’t know what we’re missing when we stick to our tried-and-true social media usage. Discover what French-speakers are reading, talking about and interested in by joining the French social media world.
Bonus tip: By changing your Twitter language settings, you can immerse yourself even further in modern French vocabulary.
3 Simple Tricks to Learn French on Twitter
1. Learn the Vocabulary
You’ll find that a lot of vocabulary used on Twitter is adapted from English, but it’s still helpful to become familiar with the most common Twitter-specific words.
Fun fact: France has banned the use of the words Facebook and Twitter on TV.
- Le twittosphère: This refers to the Twitter world we all know and love, but normally refer to as the Twittersphere/Twitterverse in English.
- S’abonner/un(e) abonné(e)/suivre: These words mean “subscribe,” “a follower” and “follow,” respectively. This is vocabulary that can be used outside of Twitter as well, to refer to a subscription.
- Les tweetos: This might sound like a cult, but it just refers to Twitter users. (Most of us have joined the Twitter cult already.)
- Mot-dièse: You might see French speakers refer colloquially to “le hashtag” but the official word is mot-dièse. Interestingly, the French government also banned the word hashtag in an effort to preserve the purity of the language.
2. Use the Hashtags
After some time immersed in the French Twittosphère, you’ll find certain topics trending. While most hashtags are universal, some are specific to certain places. For example: #mtl (Montreal), #svizzera (Switzerland) and #team243 (Congo).
By using and exploring hashtags, you can find and be found by other French speakers. For example, you could try: #parismaville (Paris my city), #découvrirensemble (explore together) or #OMPSG (the Classic match between French soccer clubs.)
To find what’s trending in French-speaking countries, you can also use a tool like Trends24. In addition to Twitter, you can explore hashtags on Facebook and Instagram that’ll lead you to all kinds of interesting content in French. Try following hashtags like #ig_france.
3. Follow the Right Accounts
The accounts you follow will be totally dependent on your taste and interests, but it can be difficult to find accounts that publish consistently in French, particularly if the account is well-known outside of France. Here we’ve suggested popular accounts that publish consistently in French.
These accounts are a great way to keep track of current affairs in French-speaking countries. You have the added bonus of being able to compare coverage in both English and French, which can test your reading comprehension and help you slowly increase your comfort with using Twitter in French.
- @Le Figaro: France’s longest running newspaper outlet with one of the largest circulations. This news outlet leans conservative.
- @Le Monde: At 7.6 million followers, this is the news outlet with the largest following on Twitter in France. It’s considered the news provider of intellectuals and academics.
- @Libération: Libération is a centrist-left news outlet that has wide coverage of world events.
Entertainment and celebrity accounts:
Sure, news outlets are great for staying educated on the French world, but you can learn a lot by following public figures and personalities. Plus, you can start to get a feel for how French can be applied to a variety of settings.
- @Equipe de France: It’s no secret that soccer (or football as it’s known in Europe) is a big deal in France. Keep on top of news from the national soccer team.
- @Gad Elmaleh: GAD is a well-known Moroccan comedian and actor popular in France. He has a huge audience at 7.6 million, and most importantly, he tweets in French.
- @Vincent Glad: An independent journalist who has worked for Slate, Libération and Brain Magazine. This is a good account to follow to keep up to date with various issues of interest in a variety of publications.
You may think you understand the ins and outs of a language… until you come across jokes that make you go, “huh?” Following humorous Twitter accounts will immerse you in a different kind of French vocabulary that’s used in humor.
- @OuiMeNon: This account has landed on lists of best Tweets of the year, with its short yet oh-so-relatable jokes.
- @CeciEstMonTweet: Clever punchline jokes, for the most part, with some political commentary.
- @Klaire: A French comedian who goes by Klaire Fait Grr (Klaire Goes Grr). She also has a blog, website and YouTube channel.
French grammar/language accounts:
You can always search for articles on a specific topic, but by following educational accounts, you’ll stumble on information you may not find by yourself.
- @Bescherelle: Sure, this is a grammar account, but it teaches you about French grammar while entertaining you at the same time.
- @LL_French: Featuring words of the day and other short snippets to up your French ante.
- @FrançaisToday: Provides easy-to-digest facts and tips for French grammar and pronunciation. This account also presents information in a combination of French and English which can make it an easily accessible account for beginners.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using social media to learn French. But whatever your interest, skill level or schedule, there’s a whole world of French to discover on Twitter. Happy exploring, and don’t forget to #découvrirensemble.
Loie Gervais is an educational writer and editor. She specializes in language, post-secondary education, academic skills and organizational behavior.