Reading books or magazines, listening to French songs or conversations on the radio, or watching TV programmes are all ways of improving your French. But there’s another medium that can help you to consolidate your knowledge of the language of Molière: films. What’s more, French cinema is among the most prolific in the world, offering an unrivalled range of genres – drama, crime, comedy, and more. Do I even need to remind you that the biggest film festival is held in France?
What advantages do films offer when it comes to learning a language? First of all, dialogue helps you to get used to listening to the language. With male and female characters of various ages, speaking at different speeds and in different timbres, films are an opportunity to become accustomed to the diversity of situations found in real life. By watching a scene from a film, you’ll also gain a better understanding of informal language, the spoken register and idiomatic expressions which French people tend to use. Films such as The Intouchables or Tais-toi (Ruby & Quentin) are full of this type of vocabulary.
Another advantage is that all films are expressions of a country’s culture. La Famille Bélier, for example, will introduce you to the everyday life of a french family in the Pays de la Loire region, Entre les murs (The Class) immerses us in the classroom of a secondary school in a tough Parisian neighbourhood, and La Traversée de Paris (Four Bags Full) transports us into the world of occupied France. Equally, you’ll no doubt gain a clearer idea of French humour by watching some of the most popular french comedies (La Grande Vadrouille, Le Dîner de cons, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis [Welcome to the Sticks], Le Père Noël est une ordure, Les Bronzés font du ski, etc.). Before watching the whole film, first check out the trailer which will give you an overview of the whole thing. Don’t try to understand everything and be sure to note down any words you don’t know or expressions whose meaning is unclear. If you’re a little apprehensive about a traditional film, don’t forget about short films – they’re also interesting but more accessible. There’s even a festival (the Très Court International Film Festival) which rewards the best works in this genre. As you can see, there’s something for every taste! As part of your French lessons in France, think about watching some films: whether it’s before, during or after your stay in Antibes, French films are a perfect way to learn while enjoying yourself.