What if there was a magical place that catered to all your French learning needs?
What if, on top of that, its services were free?
And what if it was already an app on your phone?
And then what if I told you it had more French content than you could consume in a lifetime?
Well, this magical place actually exists.
It’s YouTube. Good old YouTube.
Sure, you may think of it mostly as the home of random cat videos. But it’s also a stomping ground for French learners of all levels.
Whether you like to learn French online with straightforward lessons or are a fan of authentic immersion techniques, YouTube has plenty for you.
Real Quick: How to Get the Most out of Learning French with YouTube
No matter your level, you may want to start by highlighting some of your shortcomings in the realm of grammar and vocabulary.
Maybe pronunciation ain’t your thing. Maybe you have French down except for that pesky subjunctive mood. Lucky you: There’s a lesson for any need. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for below, sometimes a simple YouTube search like “French future tense” or “How to pronounce French vowels” will yield pages of videos on the exact issue you’re having.
It’s often helpful to make a playlist on YouTube to keep track of resources. If something below, or something you find on your own, tickles your fancy, click the “Add to” button on the lower left of the video. Label your new playlist what you wish. After that, add videos by clicking the “Add to” button, then selecting your French playlist. To access it later on, click the menu button on YouTube (upper left hand corner) and select the playlist.
Funny French videos will no longer slip through your fingers.
Once you’ve explored some of the French lessons YouTube offers below, I recommend checking out some of the suggested immersion resources as well. They’re all fantastic ways to practice your French once you get basic concepts down. Though many of the authentic resources are most accessible for intermediate and advanced learners, no matter your level, don’t be afraid to try them out!
You might only understand a few words here and there, but use those as clues to find the context. Pay close attention to visual clues and refer back to English-language resources (like the original movie, an English book translation, a similar news article in English, etc.) when available.
You can also find the best of French-language YouTube right here on FluentU, sorted by level and with special learning features that make the content accessible to everyone.
To get started with FluentU, go ahead and sign up for the free trial.
But if you want the best of both worlds, a.k.a. FluentU on YouTube, you’ll be glad to know FluentU is also on the platform!
With the FluentU French YouTube channel, you can learn the language in a fun and engaging way.
The channel uses movie clips, trailers and other short videos and transforms them into language lessons.
For example, you can watch this video featuring the thriller L’heure de la sortie (School’s Out) to improve your grammar and listening comprehension skills:
Or learn vocabulary with the trailer of “Jurassic World,” which has been dissected so you can understand every single word without effort:
These videos made me realize I need to keep on practicing my listening skills and watching authentic content. If you felt the same way and want more great videos from the FluentU team, subscribe to FluentU’s French YouTube channel. And don’t forget to hit that notification bell!
35+ Cool Resources for Learning French on YouTube
Where to Start: YouTube for Beginners
I won’t presume to know what you know, you know? But here’s what I do know: beginners have quite the playground on YouTube. Many videos and channels cater to your particular situation. Here are some video suggestions and the fabulous channels they come from. Browse through the videos on each channel to meet your specific needs:
“How to Count 1-10 in French” by DamonAndJo:
This channel features fun, short videos that casually talk through French topics.
“Introduction to French Pronunciation” by Learn French with FrenchPod101.com:
This is a great channel for useful top-10 lists, listening comprehension and weekly French words. With a subscription, you can get access to audio and video lessons, learning tools, lesson notes and more.
“French Present Tense” by Learn French with Pascal:
This channel is also great for jumpstarting pronunciation, including songs and an easy-to-navigate site.
“How to Introduce Yourself in French” by Antastesia:
A vlogger in both English and French, she features an entire section on French lessons. The videos are short, but as a native speaker, she provides a great voice to learn from.
Groove Out to France’s Greatest Hits
Got cleaning to do? Just a music nerd? Well, fancy this: France has a great music scene. No matter what you’re into—hip-hop, punk, crooners—there’s a little something for you.
Watching music videos is a great way to get visual cues while you listen. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything you hear; it helps cultivate an ear for French. If you need writing practice, keep a journal with your impressions of the videos and the music.
Here are some channels that you may find useful, many of which have subtitles in English or French as an option for you to follow along with:
A great French hip-hop group with tons of music videos.
Céline Dion sings in French sometimes. In case you forgot that.
VEVO France and Universal Music France:
Though they show music that’s popular no matter the language, they feature quite a bit of French music. A great way to discover new artists.
Bonus: Type musique française in the YouTube search bar. Tons of playlists come up.
Level Up: YouTube for Intermediate Learners
Here’s where the going gets good. You now know that you know less than you thought you knew (you know what I’m saying, no?). There are many intricacies in the French language, from the sheer volume of vocabulary there is to learn to those special grammar tricks and tenses. I cannot stress enough the value of immersion at this stage.
But to overcome some of the common intermediate hurdles, below are some video suggestions and channels to help you out:
“How to Choose a Past Tense in French” by Comme une Française:
This channel is perfect for intermediate learners because of the range of choices: vlog-style videos, tips for Christmas in France and email etiquette, to name a few.
“Y and En – How and When to Use Them” by Parapluie French:
Here, you’ll find plenty of videos on French grammar, as well as some useful guided listening exercises.
“Useful French Adverbs” by Learn French with Alexa:
Alexa’s channel is a fantastic resource no matter your level. If you can think of it, she probably has a great video on the topic. This includes cooking segments, live streams and French for kids.
Rent French Films
Yes, YouTube is free, but it’s also a fantastic resource for renting French films. The great thing about being in this intermediate stage is that you have enough knowledge to navigate the basics of a French film, but still have a lot to gain from them in the way of comprehension. YouTube has some free films available, as well as an unbeatable catalogue of French films new and old for under $4.99 (available in the US).
Although Netflix and Hulu have a lot of French films, YouTube has an even wider range, and you don’t have to be a subscriber. Plus, they usually have subtitle options in either French or English for whatever you feel you need. Below are a few selections from yours truly, though you can always type in a title you’re interested in and find it yourself.
“Un prophète” (“A Prophet”):
A thrilling crime drama about a young Algerian man who gets involved with the Corsican mafia.
“Le passé” (“The Past”):
A dramatic French film about divorce and remarriage by the director of the Oscar-winning Iranian film “A Separation.”
“La Cage aux Folles:”
Before Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in “The Birdcage,” there was the original 1978 French comedy about a couple who runs a drag club. Rent it here.
“Une femme est une femme” (“A Woman Is a Woman”):
French New Wave at its finest with Jean-Luc Godard’s 1961 feature. Rent it here.
A heartbreaking, animated coming-of-age story about a girl’s life during the Iranian Revolution. Rent it here.
Squeeze in a Short Film
I get it. You’re busy. You don’t have time to watch a whole French movie, and your listening comprehension is a little weak sauce (I promise it’ll get better). Here’s a solution: Consider short films in French. They’re often very visual (less dialogue), and as the name suggests, short.
Here are some of my favorites:
This Oscar-winning short uses over 2,500 logos in its animation. There’s a lot of slang in the dialogue spoken, but the story is easy to follow and the metaphors are on point.
“J’attendrai le suivant” (“I’ll wait for the next one”):
Under four minutes long, and with French subtitles, this short film features a man “searching for love” on the metro.
Tip: The term for short film in French is court métrage. Type that into the search bar to explore short films on your own.
Learn How to Cook
With YouTube, you say? That’s crazy, they say! Whether you’re a regular Julia Child or can barely boil an egg, why not do two things at once? Learn French and cook!
YouTube is full of French cooking videos. Follow along with the instructions in the description, watch what the pros do and read the comments for tips. The only caveat is that you’ll need to watch out for conversions, but this site has you covered on that front. Feeling nervous? Conquer something you’re familiar with in the kitchen and avoid baking. Feeling adventurous? Get a kitchen scale and try out French pastries.
Here are a few channels that may cater to your French tastes:
This channel boasts short videos that take you through a variety of recipes. Great place to start.
Telmo et Tula:
If you’re really just beginning with French cooking and can handle slightly creepy animation, this channel has easy videos made for kids.
L’atelier des Chefs (Chefs’ Workshop):
Check this out if you’re up for more advanced cooking with more complicated dishes.
Master It All: YouTube for Advanced Learners
Well, lookie here. Got something of a pro on our hands. Remember that as an advanced French learner your work will never be done. You still have to keep up with your French, refresh old concepts and learn the really fun nitpicky grammar!
Here are some lessons and their channels for your needs:
“Le plus-que-parfait” by French with Vincent:
French with Vincent takes a more traditional approach, with his videos divided up into units. Find a place you’re struggling with and watch from there. Also great for reviewing your French.
“Pronom relatif leçon” by Yannick Sayer:
The video quality is not exactly top-of-the-line, but he has so many videos (all in French). You can learn math in French, science in French or… French in French. I am still overwhelmed by the sheer number of videos.
“French Past Conditional” by Love Learning Languages:
This channel has a catalogue of videos on the nuisances of French grammar, as well as tons of vocabulary.
Tip: Don’t just watch these video lessons passively. Take notes, quiz yourself and review to ensure that you keep progressing from advanced to fluent.
Keep Up with French News
If you’re listening to or watching French news, you know you’ve made it. They talk fast and formal, and yeah, it can sometimes be hard to understand for even the most seasoned French aficionado. Luckily, some of these channels give you the gift of French subtitles (you’re beyond English subtitles now, sorry). The comments section can be interesting to check out as well. Below are three respected French news sources. All three also have the option to stream the news live.
Kill Time with French Vloggers
Perhaps the most obvious of immersion techniques that YouTube has to offer is the thing YouTube birthed itself: Vloggers! If you want to learn more colloquial French, vlogs are a great way. Learn slang and French jokes, and hear French spoken with all the pretension stripped away. Many vlogs even have English subtitles if you still need a little help.
Here are a few to get addicted to:
Natoo is my personal favorite. Her comedy breaks through the language barrier and includes tons of funny videos where she plays different characters, as well as those in the typical vlog format.
These videos are pretty random, sometimes kind of gross and always silly. Lots of songs, if that’s what you’re into.
Studio Bagel (sketch show):
Though not technically a vlog, I couldn’t resist including this. These clever sketches feature many YouTube comedians (to help you fall further into the Internet rabbit hole).
Laugh Out Loud with French Comedians
This is taking the often straightforward talk of the vloggers to another level: more intricate jokes, funny voices and often faster talking speeds. But luckily, French comedians are hilarious, and though it’s a constantly growing scene, YouTube abounds with videos from the greats.
But for now, if you need a quick laugh, here’s a great YouTube channel that’ll crack you up:
This channel not only has great stand-up comedy, but web-series, interviews and a new video every Wednesday.
Need more? Here’s a whole post about the magic of French comedy.
Listen to French Audiobooks
While there are websites that are specifically catered to audiobooks (this and this post will help you out if you’re interested in French audiobooks in general), YouTube has many works available for free. Listen along with a book: Play it in your car, or while you cook one of those French recipes we talked about. If you’re feeling nervous about your comprehension, listen to a book you’ve read before in English. You’ll know the plot points, so getting through the thick of it will be simple.
Check out these channels when your ears have some downtime:
Short stories, fairy tales and entire novels galore! This channel has you covered no matter how much time you have to devote.
Le Conteur Geek:
Another channel with a wide range of lengths.
“Le Petit Prince:”
The quintessential French novel. You’ve likely read it, but this is a great recording to put on in order to spruce up your comprehension.
Become a French Historian
I can’t be the only history hobbyist out there. Regardless of if you like history for fun or need to learn a bit of it for school, there are lots of videos in French covering various periods in history. The videos often have graphics to help along your understanding and many of the names, places and events may already be familiar to you. Plus, learning history is a lot more entertaining than you may be giving it credit for.
Here are a few videos to spruce up your world history:
“L’histoire de France” (“The History of France”):
If your French history isn’t up to par, this four-part series will cover literally everything since recorded history began in France.
This channel includes an audio series called “Au cœur de l’Histoire,” a great resource to study for your French and History exams at once.
Il Était Une Fois (Once Upon a Time):
This channel includes a variety of historical (among other topics) educational cartoons, which are super engaging and perfect if you’re interested in exploring the mysteries the past has to offer.
Was that enough to convince you that YouTube can replace your French teacher? Don’t tell them I said that.
Really, the only thing it doesn’t necessarily offer you is reading material. Though as we’ve seen, some of the resources above even offer or connect to that. Oh, and real conversation experience, though you can still use it for practicing many aspects of conversation. I’m crossing my fingers for a virtual reality French immersion program any day now.
No matter how you’re learning French—in school, on your own, with a friend, very slowly—YouTube is there to either show you a good laugh, teach you the depths of French grammar or spruce up your skills before studying abroad.
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