When you are learning French in France it is obvious that the more you extend your learning outside of your French immersion class the quicker you will progress. Doing technical work like listening and writing exercises is obviously very worthwhile but you are unlikely to want to do this all evening long. A real turning point is when your entertainment and learning begin to merge. You are probably aware of this and you may have been looking for places where you can get a decent choice of films, TV series or whatever either with French subtitles or better yet that is completely in French. This is where Netflix has been of great use to me and I think it has great potential for all of us doing French language stays in France.
I already had a Netflix account before I came to Montpellier to study at the Easy French Immersion School and I had no idea how useful it would be. In part that’s because I had no idea how extensive the translations of all of their content was because I had never looked. Sure enough, almost all of my favourite shows had French subtitles right there ready to go, amongst tons of other languages of course.
This was my first port of call for using Netflix to help me learn French in France. It seemed completely effortless, I could indulge in all of my favourite shows with the comforting knowledge that I was enriching my French learning at the same time, although a bit of discipline is required at first to make sure you are actually reading the subtitles. It’s very easy to get distracted and just watch it normally, don’t worry though it won’t always be a conscious task. If you put the effort in for a little bit of time you will automatically start to do it and then you are rolling.
Watch Your French Progress as You Watch Great Productions
After that I moved onto watching French shows and movies with English subtitles. Netflix has got tons of really good French productions even if your account is registered in your home country. Nearly all of them come with English subtitles so you can improve your listening comprehension but still follow whatever it is that you are watching but be careful of paraphrasing. This is a bit of a tipping point as when you first start you can follow the subtitles as much as you like but then as time goes on you can try to use the subtitles less and less. It’s like doing an exercise with the answers popping up at the bottom so it’s easy to glance at them but again with some discipline this becomes easier to avoid and eventually you will be able to only look at the English equivalent when you need to. After that you can go for French subtitles which is very useful for learning the spelling of certain words you hear and avoiding confusion.
The great range of choice on Netflix is a major asset and there are more effective ways of using it to help with your French immersion experience. Now I try my best to vary what I watch, I enjoy the documentaries a lot but I try to layer it in amongst movies, TV shows, factual, fictional and so on. A lovely little bonus of doing this happened when I started to watch some of the comedy series and stand-ups available on Netflix. When I was hanging out with a few of my French friends a couple of days later they referenced something I had seen on a show and whereas previously they would have had to explain it to me I understood it on my own. Just a little thing but I felt a step closer to French culture.
I recommend to anyone learning French in France to make use of this service even if it’s just for a bit. You can get a free account for a month which is how long many people do a language stay for and it will really help you on your French intensive course for adults. You can structure it around your own interests and keep it interesting for yourself which is massively important.