Do you have a spice in your cabinet that you use all the time?
Or a tool in your toolbox that makes any job easier?
How about a French learning resource you can always count on?
I know I’ve got one: YouTube.
Even though it’s not a language learning resource per se, it’s absolutely filled with videos that are perfect for improving your French skills, no matter your level or individual learning goals.
I’ll show you six of my favorites that really demonstrate the diversity of French learning material available on YouTube. Below, you’ll find everything from comprehensive French lesson videos to exciting vlogs from a French world traveler.
I bet you’ll be coming back to YouTube for more French learning again and again!
What Makes YouTube a Powerful French Learning Tool?
- There’s a bottomless well of spoken French to listen to. If I could use only one resource to study French, it would be YouTube. Nothing can compete with the sheer mass of French content available. By just typing “français” into the search bar, you’ll see how many diverse and entertaining French videos are available.
And with new French videos being added every day, you’ll never run out of French to listen to.
- YouTube turns learning French into a leisure activity. I’m a firm believer that learning French should be fun. While it’s true you can’t get out of studying, you should also incorporate some entertaining learning materials to keep you motivated.
Personally, once I hit an “intermediate” French level, I started using YouTube more. For lack of French language programming where I lived, it became my TV. I watched dramas, films, tutorials, documentaries, you name it… and all in French! This kept my brain in French-mode and prevented burnout.
- You’ll get a strong sense of how advanced your listening skills are. After watching several videos, you’ll discover just how much French you understand in a real-life setting. You’re listening to natural, sometimes fast-paced French. Over time, paying attention to how much you rely on subtitles or rewinding will help you track your listening comprehension progress.
How to Best Make Use of YouTube to Supercharge Your French
The dedicated French learner must avoid the passive listening trap. What do I mean by that? If you just listen in the background without making an effort to understand, the sound goes in one ear and out the other. So what can we do to actually improve our French via YouTube?
- Listen to a variety of French accents. Almost all French accents can be found on YouTube, from Quebec to Acadia to France itself. You can’t limit yourself to just one accent.
In my opinion, the more “difficult” the accent is to understand, the better, because if you can understand the difficult accent, you’ll have no problem with the more neutral ones.
- Use the incredibly powerful repeat button. Unfortunately, in real-life conversation, you can’t go back in time five seconds to re-listen and catch that tricky word you missed. But in YouTube you can! Rewinding will help you train your ear and actively pick up new words, so you’ll be ready for them in real conversations.
Just hit the circular repeat button on the bottom of the screen to listen again.
- Read (and participate in) the comments section. Who says you can’t get in some reading and writing practice?! The YouTube comments section is a treasure trove of informal French, and reading the comments will help you see just how creative native speakers can be. For example, check out the following comments. If you can interpret comments like these, you have an excellent reading level.
Moi j’ai geek à mort sur [Pokemon] Platine (In my case I geeked out on [Pokemon] Platinum)
In the comment above, geek is used like in English. This is an anglicism typical in franglais (French-English blend).
Va si mec ne lâche rien kroi en toi toule monde a ces principes (Yeah man, don’t give up, believe in yourself, everyone has their principles)
This sentence has several examples of informal French. First, mec is a popular French word meaning “man/bro/buddy/guy.” Next we have kroi, an informal misspelling derived from croire (to believe). Finally, toule monde is used instead of tout le monde (everyone).
- Avoid headphones if you can. This might seem like a strange recommendation, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Headphones make it too easy to listen.
In the real world, you have to listen to French with lots of distractions. Like a martial artist training with weighted clothing who suddenly takes off the weights, you’ll find that you can understand much better over time if you avoid headphones in YouTube.
If you like this method of French learning, you should also know about FluentU. Like YouTube, it provides access to authentic French videos (like movie trailers, funny YouTube clips, inspiring talks and more). But these videos also come with innovative learning tools like interactive captions, flashcards and quizzes.
That means you’ll actively build your vocabulary with every video you watch. All while hearing French the way native speakers really use it! Plus, FluentU remembers what you’ve watched and suggests more videos based on that information. So you get a truly personalized learning experience.
Get an Earful of This! 6 Unique YouTube Resources to Learn French
As I said above, with YouTube, you can turn your French studying efforts into something fun. I mean, hey, we all love surfing YouTube. Might as well do it in French!
Foundational French: FrenchPod101
FrenchPod101 is a smart place to start your YouTube learning, because it’ll give you the foundations but you can also stick with it as you advance towards fluency.
There are tons of videos covering the basics, including vocabulary, cultural insights and study tips. FrenchPod101 specifically designs its videos to be informative but entertaining. The videos are presented by engaging native speakers and French experts.
For absolute beginners, check out the series “French in 3 Minutes.” If you’re looking for videos about grammar, FrenchPod101 has a great section for intermediate and advanced learners called “Ask a French Teacher.”
If you enjoy these videos, check out FrenchPod101's popular video and audio podcast lessons. There are hundreds of lessons with more being added all the time. Plus, the podcasts come with PDF lesson notes and access to a community of French learners and speakers. It’s a great option to diversify your French studies.
Short and Sweet Audio Lessons: YouLearnFrench
If you’re looking for an interactive YouTube learning experience, YouLearnFrench offers lessons for beginners with quizzes and tests, songs and sample dialogs. It’s a great series of videos for beginners because it guides you to French improvement step-by-step.
The videos are organized by topic, from the most used French adjectives to super-specific stuff like Olympics vocabulary. They’re straightforward and often only a few minutes long, so it’s easy to squeeze in some practice anywhere in your day.
Baby Steps to Real French Content: Monde des Titounis
For families learning French together, Monde des Titounis (World of Titounis) is a popular French kids’ channel. The content includes age-appropriate songs and short stories designed to expose children to French when they’re young enough to absorb it without too much effort.
Since the videos are made for French kids, they don’t feel like language study. They incorporate fun topics like drawing lessons or arts and crafts.
Even if you’re not learning with kids, Monde des Titounis is a great first-step into authentic French content. You’ll hear basic vocabulary and sentence structure, while the relatively simple themes and supporting illustrations are easy to follow.
Movie Dialogue for Conversation Practice: Classiques du Cinema Français
Watching movies in French is a strategic way to start preparing for real, live French conversations.
One one hand, the dialogue is usually at a natural pace and sometimes there are tricky accents or background noise. On the other hand, you know the context of the conversation and you can always slow down, rewind or put subtitles on the video for added support.
Classiques du cinema français (Classics of French Cinema) is a YouTube playlist offering tons of classic movies, from comedy to horror and lots more, for free.
It may be hard at first, but if you dedicate yourself to watching every film in the playlist, you’ll be listening to French without straining in no time!
The Ticket to Informal French: Bruno Maltor’s Travel Vlog
Thinking about going abroad? Or just need to satisfy some wanderlust from home? Travel vlogs like Bruno Maltor’s are a popular genre on YouTube.
Maltor is well-known in France, and in my personal opinion, not only is the content he offers amazing, but he also has a very neutral accent perfect for all levels of learners. Many of his videos also come with quality subtitles (not just the iffy auto-generated YouTube ones), which are the perfect training wheels for understanding natural and informal French.
The Last Chapter for Listening Skills: Livres Audio
This YouTube channel is a treasure trove of free, public domain audiobooks in French. It’s a great way for upper-intermediate and advanced learners to give their listening skills a dedicated workout—while enjoying some of the best that French literature has to offer.
These recordings are hours-long, so try to set reasonable listening goals for yourself. As you practice (and get more wrapped up in the story) you’ll find yourself able to hold longer and longer listening sessions.
Note: Some of the videos are recorded in English, so be sure to do a quick preview listen before choosing one.
I watch French YouTube content every day. At first it was difficult to understand what I heard, but I kept at it.
Now I can understand without concentrating… just like in English.
Amazingly, the French department in my university never recommended watching YouTube in French in my free time.
Well, now I’m letting you in on the secret: YouTube is the best online French teacher out there.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.