To read “5 ways to learn French while having fun” in French, click here or you can even listen to it below:
Are you tired of the boring dialogues of your textbook and want to make your French learning more enjoyable? In this article, I give you 5 fun ideas to learn French regularly without being a burden. Learning French while having fun is the key to staying motivated, specially when you’re an intermediate student and think you’ve reached a plateau.
1. Do activities that you love in French:
Yes, being an active student goes beyond taking notes in class and revising them. You can also be an active learner of French in the literal sense! During the lockdown, many of us took up an online activity. Why not try to do it in French? There are thousands of videos available for free on YouTube.
Also, if you love doing fitness or yoga in your native language, try to hear the instructions in French; this can help you understand the new language. It’s a bit like reading a foreign language novel that you’ve already read in your mother tongue.
You already know the story! The advantage of sports videos is that you can follow the instructor’s movements if you get lost! Here are my recommendations of French YouTubers to follow for active learning:
Sissy Mua for fitness
Yoga Coaching for yoga
2. Cook in French:
Instead of typing “beef burgundy” in your browser, try to search “boeuf bourguignon” and use the original French recipe! You can avoid the “faux-pas” of free adaptations (how dare they?). An essential site for discovering typical French recipes is Marmiton.
You can also follow French YouTubers who share their favorite recipes. In Spain, the show Les carnets de Julie is a hit on RTVE. And if you’re an intermediate, it’s best to follow a real teacher who explains the recipe more slowly and with subtitles. I recommend the must-see French channel with Pierre, here preparing a Quiche Lorraine.
Finally, you could learn how to cook and speak French simultaneously with a native speaker. In London and online, Cook and Speak is an authentic school that allows you to kill two birds with one stone, learning how to cook healthy meals while you learn French having fun!
3. Speak French outside the classroom:
Talk on your own :
Speaking out loud alone will allow you to take time to make sentences. It might seem weird at the beginning. However, it could soon become a unique moment of introspection. If something is bothering me, I sometimes talk to myself as if I were with a friend (or a psychologist!).
I make it a bit more interesting by doing it in Spanish or Italian. That introspection time allows me to see things more clearly and consider the pros and cons of a situation, which helps me decide the best option.
I often do it while I’m walking, but you could do it while you’re driving or doing the housework. Try it and see for yourself! If it’s too weird, why not talk to your pet in French? One student told me that she loved talking to her dog in French about her daily activities.
Talk to others :
If you prefer to practice with other people outside the classroom to have fun speaking French, I won’t blame you. Here are some options you can use to practice:
- Meetup: find a French conversation or language exchange group in your city
- Applications to finding a language partner: Tandem and Hello Talk are the most famous. You can chat or even send voice notes.
- Dating apps: If you don’t dare to approach French people in the street yet, you can use dating apps such as Tinder or Badoo. If you can’t flirt with other people in a foreign language, what’s the point?
4. Read light novels or magazines:
Yes, I recommend you forget L’Etranger by Albert Camus and Le Petit Prince. Why? As soon as I arrived in London, I bought Jane Eyre and Emily Brontë because I thought they’d look great on my shelves, and maybe I’d learn English faster. The two books are still there, like trophies, of which I have read two pages at most.
I understood that 19th-century vocabulary wasn’t going to help me understand my English-speaking friends in the capital of the UK. Instead, I started to read Time Out and newspapers or magazines that grabbed my attention on the street. It’s much easier and entertaining. Later on, I devoured Sophie Kinsella’s My (not so) perfect life in one week. No shame. In short, the idea is to find a novel that fits our level and interests.
So I recommend you to read contemporary novels where you will find modern vocabulary that you can use in everyday life. For example, Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is an excellent book to start reading at B1 level. The play Art by Yasmina is a classic, and it’s studied in France, but you can read it to enjoy the dialogue and humor. If you like chick-lit, try reading the most read novelist in France, Sophie Grimaldi, Le premier jour du reste de ma vie.
5. Use unconventional resources:
To learn French while having fun, the choice of resources is critical. We all tend to go to the classic grammar books or newspapers in French once we’ve reached a certain level. But what if we chose something that makes us laugh? Here are my recommendations to learn French with some unconventional material:
- Funny, light-hearted, everyday life podcasts: slate.fr is unbeatable with hundreds of different general, politically incorrect, or even taboo topics.
- Fun websites: Topito is a nice option (here is my teaching activity based on one of their videos about the lockdown in 2020) or celebrity interviews on Konbini, I recommend Emma Mackney one’s, the famous half-French actress from the series Sex Education.
As you can see, learning French having fun is not that hard and can boost your learning process, especially when you have lost motivation and think you’ve reached a plateau. Let me know in the comments if you have other ideas or strategies to learn French unconventionally!