Today’s learning tool of the week might surprise you, as it’s not the first place you would think about for language learning – but as I’ve recently discovered it’s one of the best learning resources you can find. I’m talking about YouTube! Yes, the site we all know for its reams of cat videos, makeup tutorials and tween vloggers is also an awesome resource for language learning.
Ten years ago, when I was studying languages at GCSE (yes it really was that long ago!), it was much harder to find authentic and fun language resources. We were pretty much stuck with the school textbook, and if you wanted anything more interesting you would have to fork out for a CD Rom, video or book. But not so anymore, as you can access a whole world of videos on YouTube for totally free. Perhaps you’re already aware of this, but for some reason I hadn’t thought a lot about the possibilities of YouTube beyond ocasionally being sent a stupid viral video of a man being chased by a cow by one of my colleagues. I certainly hadn’t realised how many great language tutorials there are on there.
But recently I’ve been inspired to improve my French a bit more, so I headed over to YouTube and searched for ‘apprendre le français’, and was happy to see there are loads of great channels (totally free) from real Francophones who are kindly donating their time to helping us foreigners learn their language.
Here are a few of the channels I’ve found helpful so far…
Pierre is a lovely typical French guy who has uploaded a huge quantity of lessons and podcasts at different levels of French. The A2-B1 videos are pretty helpful for me, as they are spoken reasonably slowly and easy to understand.
He’s also got videos on how to use various areas of the French language, such as his lighthearted video on les gros mots (swear words) – which is presented in quite a sweet way considering that he’s teaching you some less polite French!
This guy also has a huge library of videos in nice clear French on a range of topics. All are intended for intermediate French speakers, so it’s not for you if you’re a beginner, but he explains things very well for intermediate learners.
He has a great series of videos on the ‘secrets’ of learning French. He does talk a lot and is very slow getting to the point, but his points are good. Basically, he suggests that you forget classes and grammar and vocab lists, and instead concentrate on natural acquisition of the language.
According to him, the ‘premier règle’ for learning French is simply: listening. And I think it makes a lot of sense. He believes that if you spend a minimum of 30 minutes, ideally an hour or even more a day listening to French (or your target language of choice) you will gradually acquire enough of the language to improve and begin talking the language too. The caveat is: you must understand what you’re listening to. If you simply listen to someone gabbling away in fast, technical French that you don’t understand, you won’t learn. So, no matter what your level, find some videos, podcasts or other forms of spoken French about something that you’re interested in, and which you can follow without too much trouble. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand every word, as you’ll pick things up from the context, but you do need to have a general understanding. You also need to listen actively. Having some French playing while you’re doing other things and not paying attention probably won’t work either.
So I’m following this rule now, and I’ve been watching various random videos in French simply for the sake of listening, understanding and hopefully assimilating. I’ll check out later what the next ‘rule’ of learning French is according to Français Authentique and let’s see how it goes.
There are loads more great channels and videos out there, so maybe I’ll write another post about some of my favourites and other techniques for using videos and so on to help you learn.