Learn French with YouTube – 35 Channels Reviewed
Paul Sulzberger, PhD graduate from Victoria University, conducted a study that suggests that listening is one of the best ways to learn a language. Where better to find listening material than on YouTube?
You can watch French movies with subtitles in your language, you could watch French TV, listen to a podcast, or watch one of the many French language presentations. There are French listening materials on Youtube at every learning level, advanced, intermediate, or beginner. Materials range from language lessons to dramatic presentations or news. Regardless of level or goal, you are sure to find a Youtube French language channel that is a good fit for you and will enable your French listening practice.
If you want to learn French, then Alexa is one of the best teachers on YouTube. Her classes are well organized, and range from complete beginner to conversational French. You might be familiar with her website or her podcasts. But here is something fun: for her introduction to French class, during which she speaks English, you can turn on subtitles which will translate her speech into both French and Spanish! Better yet, as an experienced classroom teacher, she not only knows how to organize the lessons so that you will quickly acquire basic vocabulary, but she also brings humor and understanding to the online environment.
Using the same immersion methods of Français Authentique, InnerFrench focuses less on teaching grammatical concepts and vocabulary lists and more on understanding spoken French. That means that this channel is completely in French with English and French subtitles, but the French used is spoken slowly and clearly, and it’s at an easy enough level that all learners of French can benefit from it.
As such, InnerFrench is recommended for learners at the A2 or B1 (high beginner and early intermediate) stages of their French journey.
Common video topics include tips and tricks for learning French, French media and popular culture as well as videos about French culture and travel. In the video above, for example, learners are challenged to examine their own level of French and determine what skills are needed for a high level of French.
Comme Une Française
Imagine living in a country where you understand the basic language, but the culture, the jokes, and the customs are all a mystery. That is how Geraldine felt when she worked in Britain as an engineer. After two years, she went back to France to find something different to do with her life. She has a unique perspective on being the “foreigner” because her mother is Mexican, and Geraldine witnessed her struggles to communicate and write in French. After her return to France, Geraldine taught French at the Red Cross, especially to asylum seekers. These experiences inspired her to create Comme Une Française to provide an online source that would help people not only with basic language skills, but also with understanding the culture, customs, and special information about France. Viewers get to see some of the beautiful places in France as well as experience ordinary things that might happen in a French household.
French in Action
French in Action uses the immersion method of teaching. It is not only a Youtube channel, but also an online course for learning French. The students are provided an audio recording that will help them practice the vocabulary for each lesson. They also have a textbook that helps them make sense of the story that unfolds in the course of 52 lessons — a year’s worth of learning if you do one lesson per week.
The first YouTube video explains what you can expect, the second video plunges into the story, and the fun begins.
The idea behind it is that you will watch French speaking people interacting in a normal environment. Sadly, the videos can only be accessed on YouTube in the US and Canada. They are offered on VPN, which might give access to people in other countries.
Frenchpod101 is primarily famed as a podcast. In addition, however, it is available on Youtube as video. This version contains a variety of activities designed to help you understand French words and how to use them in sentences. More importantly, it provides an opportunity to listen to French in order to improve your understanding of the language. You can subscribe to the Frenchpod 101 Youtube channel for free and learn more about how their service is structured, as well as see how French phrases are written while listening to how they sound. This makes it easy to stop and practice the words, and to go back as many times as you need to master each phrase. The lessons are interrupted by advertising, but you can quickly skip through the ads and go on with the content.
This is a spare YouTube channel that focuses on fundamental aspects of the French language. This includes the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, and words most frequently used.
If you are looking for a story or fancy graphics, this is not the YouTube channel for you. The words are displayed against a simple background, then pronounced. Not fancy, but a good way to train your eye and ear to match written French with spoken French.
This is old-school classroom style learning with a white board, vocabulary word cards, and concrete objects. In just eight videos, Jaqueline Doiron goes over fundamentals of French vocabulary, as well as giving you the official French version of “Happy Birthday.”
The lessons are not fancy, but they do get the job done.
JeFrench is an excellent place to begin learning French. It gives a series of simple classroom style lessons with an off screen voice over that explains the simple vocabulary slideshow. It covers common phrases, pronunciation, and conjugation of some common verbs. Words are used in sentences. The videos are clear with attractive color backgrounds. They are not fancy, but the information is excellent.
Learn French with Vincent
This is a good one for starting out with learning French. The lessons begin with learning how to pronounce the vowels, followed right up with consonants — both very important if you wish to say French words accurately. Subsequent lessons are arranged logically, presenting useful words that allow you to cumulatively build a useful vocabulary. As you become more fluent, or if you are just doing a brush up, there are dialogues that might occur in real life that will allow you to practice situational French.
Lingoni French is a new off-shoot of Lingoni German, which was originally presented as “German with Jenny.” The videos are designed to go with the Lingoni French app, but that does not mean that they cannot be useful to you. Each video is presented in a mixture of English and French, especially in the beginning. But as the learner is presumed to be more fluent, the amount of English diminishes, and the amount of French becomes greater. This is especially true of the intermediate level videos.
The lessons are classified as A1 (beginner), A2 (advanced beginner), and B1, (intermediate). This makes it easy to select the lessons you need. They are further divided in vocabulary, expressions and grammar.
Oh La La, I Speak French
Oh, la la, translates as “Oh, dear!” or perhaps “Oops!” and is the companion series for Oh, La La Hollywood Speaks French.
In the first Episode of Oh, La La Hollywood speaks French, Sophia (Soso) arrives in Los Angeles. She has discovered her husband, Robert, in bed with his mistress. She lands on Lili’s doorstep, unannounced, along with all her luggage. What can a friend do? Lili takes her in. If you still do not have enough French to follow the dialog, no worries. English subtitles are available.
Oh, La La, I speak French sometimes uses scenes from the comedy videos to illustrate the language lessons, beginning with Soso and Lili demonstrating both formal and informal greetings. With these two, you can have a good time while getting in some serious learning.
In the second season, Soso returns to her favorite city, Paris, where the fun continues. Not only do you get a chance to learn the correct way to say things in this series, you also learn some naughty French slang phrases for those moments when you so do not feel politically correct.
Walk, Talk and Learn French
The title says it all. You accompany Pierre-Benoît as he shows you the sights in France. You are also introduced to a slightly different way of speaking French. Pierre-Benoit, has a Scottish accent (he was born in France, but has lived for thirty years in Scotland)! He has an incredibly mobile face and is ready to entertain as well as instruct. For example, the first lesson involves some language fun inspired by a movie poster. What might have been a dull explanation of grammatical use of en, for example, becomes a great deal of fun while you are learning all the nuances of that poster. That is only the beginning of an enormously entertaining series of language lessons.
Organized as super easy slides with the French and English displayed, a voice over pronounces the French twice, with pauses in between words to facilitate practice. It covers a wide range of topics, beginning with the alphabet (organized like a children’s picture book) and extending on up through all tenses of verb conjugation, as well as vocabulary you might need in various real life situations, such as booking an airplane flight.
While not overly dry, the lessons are arranged in a straightforward manner, without excess dramatization.
le français illustré
Simple sentences in French are illustrated with cartoon sketches. They are frequently humorous, and always fun. An excellent way to practice reading French for those who have some fluency. Little or no English is spoken, but the illustrations make it easy to understand the written French that is displayed on the screen.
Damon and Jo
Damon and Jo travel the world and produce hilarious videos dedicated to their adventures, food, beauty products, dancing…and French grammar. The duo make boring topics such as le passé composé entertaining and explain French culture from an American and Brazilian perspective. They occasionally publish videos in French with English subtitles which makes their Youtube channel a must for French learners of all levels. The videos are presented in “Franglish”, a mix of French and English that makes it fun even for those who do not speak French, or do not speak it fluently.
Learn French With Pascal
This Youtube channel contains a large selection of videos on different topics such as verb tenses, pronunciation, songs and grammar lessons. The presentations use cartoon illustrations and are an excellent way to expand your vocabulary. New words are presented, used in context, and various ways to use each word are given. It is fast paced, jovial, and generally fun.
Want to know how French people think? Each episode features French people answering questions and sharing their opinions and feelings about different topics in authentic street interviews. Topics include Paris, French cuisine or being a tourist.
The episodes are presented in conversational style, with subtitles in both French and English. It is a great way to develop a natural way of speaking French because you hear several people talking.
As its name indicates, this Youtube channel is all about authentic French. You can find lots of nice videos where Johan explains common French idioms or simply talks about topics he is interested in, such as personal development. Johan is also the host of the Français Authentique podcast and creator of the Français Authentique course.
The lessons are presented in French, so it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of French. With that said, Johan explains some of the more difficult aspects of grammar, such as the conditional tense.
Français avec Pierre
Pierre regularly explains common French expressions, but he also interviews other French speakers and talks about a variety of topics such as culture and grammar. The lessons have English subtitles, but Pierre speaks naturally, just as he might if he were lecturing a classroom full of students. In addition to the subtitles, French vocabulary words are displayed beside Pierre, making it easy to pick out the new vocabulary for each lesson.
While Golden Moustache isn’t made specifically for French learners, this Youtube channel contains lots of entertaining videos with English subtitles. For example you can find lots of parodies of movies, such as Star Wars of Skyfall. Some of the episodes are gritty, but all are entertaining.
Advanced or Fluent French
Benjamin Houy, of French Together, regularly posts French videos with English subtitles. The movies cover a variety of topics and different kinds of drama. You can also find various levels of French lessons on his YouTube channel.
The videos listed below are examples of some of the videos he has suggested.
Florence Foresti is a stand-up comédienne who takes on the many issues encountered by an emancipated woman. Her topics include the way men whimper over the least amount of pain whereas women routinely endure childbirth.
Another stand-up comedian. This one does stand-up comedy in both French and English, frequently making fun of the acquisition of language. He explains how English is taught in French, with such stock phrases as “Where is Brian?” or “It is raining, where is my umbrella?” He has a complete comedy routine in English, in which he explains what it is like for those who speak French to try to learn English, especially English idioms.
Comedy is all about performance, including demonstrating how to speak like a native Frenchman, and perhaps how to use the word “putain.” In addition, you get to see what it is like to be running late to a speaking engagement, and having to go onstage stuck in your motorcycle helmet!
In this video, Cyprien, a young French comedian talks about studies abroad, an experience that is perceived very differently by the person going and other persons.
Yet more comedy! You do not have to speak French to figure out want Norman is saying in LE CONFINEMENT. All you need is the repetitious views of Norman getting up in the morning, accompanied by a brief clip for Groundhog day. While there are few subtitles, he speaks clearly. This is a good listening exercise for those who are at the upper end of Intermediate.
Coffee Break French
Coffee Break French is the parent company for Pierre-Benoît’s Walk, Talk, and Learn French. Students are likely to enjoy the lively presentations which focus on everyday situations, and are often shot at famous locations. La Vérité éclate toujours is the advanced French class from Coffee Break French, and presents a complete story with all the suspense and trimmings of any good detective story.
Monde des Titounis
It is said that if you wish to learn a language, sing the songs and learn the stories. Monde des Titounis is produced for the children of France. That makes it a natural selection for mom, dad and all the kids, or for classrooms full of school children. The stories are familiar ones, such as the ant and the grasshopper or the Mouse who Saved the Lion.
Directions for crafts that go with the stories are also provided making language lessons even more fun for the junior members of the family.
Classiques du Cinema Français
Action helps explain sound, so even if you do not speak French, watching a movie is a good way to grow accustomed to the sound of spoken French. If subtitles are available, your task of figuring out what is going on becomes much easier. Recorded material allows you to manipulate it, so if something does not make sense, you can listen to it again.
Since this is a list of French movies of all kinds that are offered on YouTube, the price is right. “Free” means you can listen to what you like, as often as you like. Even if you must watch with a dictionary in hand, the more you listen, the easier it will be to understand.
Bruno Maltor’s Travel Vlog
Bruno Maltor brings absolute joy to his vlog, as he describes the various locations he visits. Some of them are set up with closed captions in French, while others have English subtitles. A personal favorite is his recent Halloween visit to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. (You can tell it is recent because of the masks worn in many of the shots.) The French has English subtitles, the English has French subtitles. But best of all, you get to take a look at the castle of the original Vlad Dracule, the ruler who inspired Bram Stoker to write his famous novel. If that were not enough, you get to see magnificent shots of the Romanian countryside.
Maltor speaks clearly, making it easy to follow along, even if you do not have a large vocabulary in French. For this episode, he is accompanied by Andrada, a native of Romania, so you even get to hear a few words of Romanian.
If you are fluent in speaking and listening to French, you will love Livres Audio. It is a service of Audible.com, so some of the books that are in the public domain are free, but you can also purchase your favorites in French.
Recorded books, especially if you get the accompanying text, is a good way to train both your eye and ear, connecting written and spoken French. The drawback is that with a voice recording, you do not have any visual cues to go with the story, so this is best for advanced or fluent French language learners.
Audible offers recordings in several languages, so double check to see if your selection is in French. You can search for French language audio recordings by using the advanced search. Scroll down about midway in the form, and check the box for French.
Français avec Pierre
Français avec Pierre talks about French in French. This can be a little scary at first, to say nothing of confusing. However, to help you out, most of the episodes have English subtitles to assist you with puzzling out the information, as well as getting in some ear training. If you are sufficiently fluent in French to understand Pierre, it is a good idea to turn off the subtitles, and only listen to the French.
Each lesson focuses on an aspect of French. A recent one considers five mistakes that people make when speaking French.
If you sign up for classes offered through the blog, you will have access to additional materials that can help you on your journey to speaking French and to understanding it when it is spoken.
Comme une française
Comme une française teaches you to speak French… well, like a French person!
Using English as a medium of instruction, Comme une françaiseis less focused on French grammar and more on vocabulary and tips for sounding more French. As in the featured videos above, this channel is focused on French as it’s actually spoken with many videos talking about pronunciation and slang.
You can further enrich your understanding by listening or reading material from Patrick Baud. He has a collection he calls “Nanofictions”. The book is available through Amazon.com
Another literature source is La Belle au Bois Dormant, as read aloud by Geraldine LePere. She reads a paragraph from an older version of the story, old enough as she points out in the first session, that it is in the public domain.
First off, “the frenchguy” is clearly not French. He has an educated American accent, and in one of his early videos is wearing a shirt with NYC on it. A better title for this section might be “Anyone can Speak French,” which is how he announces each video.
He does a very nice job of de-mystifying conversational French, and he even does an episode of 90 Second French, titled A Mon Avis. If you look at all his work, brace yourself because his music video, Three Words, is startling to say the least. However, it is relevant because the final chorus is sung in French and one of the episodes revolves around translating it.
While so very clearly not French, his presentations show just how passionate he is about the French language, and how much he enjoys speaking it and making the videos. He clearly enjoys music, as well, and combines the two enthusiasms in some of his presentations.
The length of the videos varies from the 90 second A Mon Avis to some that are ten minutes long. He speaks quickly, but clearly, and all French words are flashed on the screen. It is a fun way to brush up on those odd little bits, like how to tell time or how to politely state your opinion.
The Travel Linguist
Travel Linguist is another YouTube channel that covers those “most needed” phrases and vocabulary, such as how to order food, or count, names of the days and months, and — very important — how to ask directions.
This channel covers these basics for several languages as well as French. Each language has three levels, and covers the same essentials for each. If you are traveling through several different countries for the first time. This is a YouTube channel you might want to have bookmarked on your phone.
Each video follows a similar format, so while you might not become truly fluent in any of the languages presented, you can quickly develop an understanding of the words most needed for your journey. These are only a few of the many French language resources available on YouTube. May your enthusiasm for and enjoyment of the French language never cease, and may your vocabulary grow daily.