Make language learning fun

© Franck Thomasse - Fotolia.comWatching films in French is a great way to familiarise yourself with the language, wherever you are in the world. Settle down with a DVD at home and just allow the words to wash over you. This simple exercise will help your ear to ‘tune in’.

But if after several attempts you are still struggling to keep up, then switch on the sub-titles and see if looking at the French words as they are spoken helps you to identify them. Failing that, watch the film with English sub-titles until you grow in confidence.

If you buy a French language film and want to watch it outside of France, it might be worth checking first to make sure that the disk will be compatible with your DVD player by referring to the DVD region code indicated on the box.

If you have the opportunity next time you are in France, why not go to the cinema? Over the course of a 90 minute listening exercise you’ll have earned your popcorn! Below is a list of popular French films, give them a go:

  • The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain – who hasn’t heard of this one?
  • OSS 117 – a James Bond style spy spoof
  • Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis – a comedy about the North-South divide in France
  • La Vie en Rose – a film about Edith Piaf
  • Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon – Bauby can communicate only by blinking, award winning
  • Le Dîner de Cons – recently given a Hollywood makeover (Dinner for Schmucks)
  • Le Pari – two brothers-in-law vow to stop smoking, with hilarious consequences…
  • Delicatessen – one for Halloween, perhaps?
  • Taxi – a speeding taxi driver is forced to help the police catch criminals
  • Jules et Jim – a classic!
  • Ne le Dit à Personne – thriller based on a novel of the same name, with Kristin Scott Thomas


Reader recommendations:


  • Le Hussard sur le Toit – beautiful scenery and Olivier Martinez, need I say more…?
  • Joyeux Noel – masterpiece about WWI
  • Intouchables – success of the year, 2011
  • Jean De Florette and Manon des Sources – adaptations of Marcel Pagnol’s classic books. Exquisite scenery, acting and a great narrative make these must see French movies
  • Mesrine – a remarkable true story about a bank robber. Quite violent.
  • Le Placard – comedy about a man who decides he had better come out of the closet to improve his job prospects, with Gerald Depardieu.
  • Les Choristes – a heart warming film that also incorporates French music.


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