Movies are a great way to relax and lose yourself in a different world for a couple hours, and what better time than when it is freezing cold outside. During this time of the season, there is no better feeling than being warm and cozy inside with a cup of hot chocolate, while we revisit some of our favourite Christmas movies from our childhood and experience some holiday magic through the screen. But, instead of watching the same movie every year, this holiday season try to watch those same Christmas movies in French or even discover new French movies that you have never seen before. This is a great way to help you learn the language and it can be fun to watch new movies or some of your favourites in a new language!
Why are Movies a Good Way to Learn French?
Cinema is great for beginners or advanced learners of French. For beginners it helps them start to understand how the language sounds when spoken and it sparks an interest in the culture of the language. For advanced learners it helps the language stay fresh in their minds and maintain what they have learned while helping them improve their listening abilities. For all language learners, movies are a great way to stay interested and engaged with the language, especially if you don’t speak it in everyday life.
In general, movies are a fun way to spend a couple hours, but one of the issues is that some people don’t find that it is a productive usage of time, but if you can learn a language while enjoying a movie, then you are getting the best of both of worlds, by being productive while having fun!
How to Use Movies to Learn French
There are many ways to learn French using movies, if you’re a beginner you can listen to it with English subtitles just to hear what the language sounds like and see what you understand while enjoying the movie. Once you are more advanced you can even watch it with the subtitles in the original language and see if you can follow along that way. Then if you find words that you’re unfamiliar with you can pause the movie and search for the definition of the words and add those new words that you learned to a list of new vocabulary, but only add the words that you think will be useful or that you see yourself using. By the end of the movie, you should have a decent list of words that you can review, so try to review this list once every couple of weeks until you are comfortable with it, this way you will expand your vocabulary and retain what you learn.
Another useful trick combines both of these methods by displaying both English subtitles and the French subtitles at the same time during the movie. This is possible with Google extensions such as Language Reactor which can be used with Netflix and Youtube. It allows you to view both subtitles at the same time which is very useful because it lets you translate what you are watching while you enjoy the movie, without having to pause and search for definitions on Google.
The last and most important piece of advice is to choose movies that you enjoy and are interested in. This means it is a good idea to watch movies that you have already watched in English, but this time watch it in French. This is effective because you already know that you enjoy the movie, and because you know what happens in the movie which makes it easier to understand the plot and the dialogue. You will be surprised how much you understand even without subtitles, because you will use context and your memory of the movie while you watch, and your brain will automatically translate many words that you didn’t even know you knew. Give it a shot! But also, don’t forget to watch new movies that you have never seen before to discover French culture and spark new interest in the language. Either way, if you enjoy the movie, it will make it that much easier to learn. So, since it is Christmas time, without further to do… Here are 6 of the best French Christmas movies to watch!
Top 6 French Christmas movies
A Christmas Carol (Un Chant de Noël) (2009)
Perhaps one of the best stories of all time, A Christmas Carol is truly a classic, there have been many remakes since Charles Dickens first wrote the book in 1843, which is a testament to how timeless and great the story has always been. This movie has a special effect on its audience, it fills people with the holiday spirit as they leave the theater wanting to be a jollier and kinder person during the holidays. You may have already watched this movie in English, but there are so many good versions that are worth watching, and it is certainly worth watching again in French. I personally love the 2009 animated version, featuring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, which has a version dubbed in French.
Joyeux Noël (2005)
One very underrated and less popular Christmas movie is Joyeux Noël. It tells the true story of the Christmas Truce that took place during World War 1 between the French and the Germans. Instead of fighting each other in battle the two sides were brought together by the holiday and decided to celebrate for the night. It is an excellent historical movie that shows how powerful the holidays can be, and how it can even bring enemies together. The movie is available in French, and it is a great watch for anyone interested.
Le Père Noël Est Une Ordure (Santa Claus is a Stinker) (1982)
This is considered a cult classic among French Christmas movies, and it is considered one of the best French comedies out there. It is intended for a more adult audience, but it is a barrel of laughs from beginning to end as it follows the story of a man dressed up as Santa Claus who shows up to an interesting Christmas Party.
La Bûche (1999)
A great original French drama to watch during the holidays. The movie is about three daughters who come together to attend their step-father’s funeral, and as Christmas Eve approaches secrets are exposed and tensions become high. A great drama that captures the essence of the importance of family and how the holidays bring us together.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This is a beloved adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s story about our favourite grumpy green friend, and it holds a special place for many. The story is about the Grinch who plots to ruin Christmas for the festive citizens of Whoville, but his plans change when he meets a kind little girl named Cindy Lou Who. This movie never gets old, it is hilarious and captivating, and it is a great film to watch in French for a change.
The Polar Express (2004)
A favourite for many kids, this adventurous film follows the journey of a boy who takes a train ride to the North Pole and discovers the importance of believing. This is a feel-good movie that can be watched every Christmas and feel just as special as the first time, and it is also available in French.
Have you seen any of the movies on this list? What is your favourite Christmas movie, and will you be watching any French ones this holiday season? Let us know in the comment section below!