Sure, practicing your conjugations and grammar are a vital part in learning a foreign language however, one of most important things that students tend to forget is to expose themselves to the culture. From music, film, plays, and food–foreign culture is an array of possibilities to learn. After all, what good is it when you speak so properly but not know the history or famous plays written in that country? I believe that one of the best ways to learn a language completely is by exposing oneself to all the different forms of media that is available–it will teach you new vocabulary as well as make you well rounded in the culture of your choice. That being said, here is a list of French media that I have listened to, read, watched and loved:
1) Children’s Novel: Le Petit Prince by Antione de Saint-Éxupery.
Although a children’s novel, it goes into an almost philosophical exploration of human nature. It has also been translated into over 190 languages, which is great for those of you wanting to learn something other than French! This is a great book to read for beginners and will hopefully enlighten your heart the way it did for me.
2) French Films: Trois Hommes et un Couffin
I recently watched this film in my French film class and thoroughly enjoyed it! This humorous film, which was actually remade into an American film (Three Men and a Baby), not only entertains, but actually subtly explores other cultural issues. I actually hope to explore this film in a later blog compared to it’s remake to show how films are adapted to suit the audience’s cultural values and wants. So, as a head start, be sure to check this out!
Other French films that I have enjoyed are:
- Les Choristes
- Paris Je t’aime (especially the last clip)
- A Bout de Souffle
3) Play: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Even though the first time I read this was in English as opposed to French, it still made me love the French culture even more. The play is about a man, Cyrano who, although talented and gifted with words, doubts himself and believes himself unworthy of receiving the love of a women. The story is so beautiful, romantic, and deep I never get tired of it.
4) Music: Sympathique by Pink Martini
This song was introduced to me by my high school French teacher and she always made us sing it! She said that even though we were just at a level one comprehension, we would be able to understand the chorus which goes:
“Je ne veux pas travailler, je ne veux pas déjeuner, je veux seulement oublier et puis, je fume.” ( I don’t want to work, I dont want to eat, I just want to forget and then I smoke.)
Not the best song message, but we were learning French weren’t we?
Some other artist to check out are:
- Carla Bruni
- Benjamin Biolay
- Coeur de Pirate
There really are so many possibilities to put in this post, but these are the ones that have really left an imprint on me. I hope you enjoy these suggestions and share it with other people as well! Remember that immersing yourself in a culture is just as important as practicing grammer and conjugations everyday. Take time to listen, read, and watch anything in another language and you will not only seem more knowledgable, but closer to your goal of fluency too!
Bonne Chance! And if you have any other foreign films, music, and plays to share feel free to let me know!