If you have begun the journey of basic French lessons and still want to further immerse yourself in the language without the expense of traveling abroad, there are some really easy ways to do this that you may have not thought of.
One of the many excellent ways to grow your French vocabulary and command of the language is to watch French movies and French TV – including the news.
But perhaps you have already indulged in every French film you can find and perhaps the news is too complex to follow. Have you ever thought about focusing on the French words you find in newspapers or books?
This could really help improve your vocabulary on topics you are already interested in - here are some tips to get you started.
Learn Online Using French Newspapers
If you have embarked on French lessons for beginners, remember that newspapers are a fantastic way to identify the French words that you have already learned in your classes.
And the great thing about newspapers is that the subject matter is so varied, ranging from articles and obituaries to adverts. It is bound to be a good learning curve, so grab your dictionary, or simply use a highlighter for the words you know.
Either way, this is a good method to see if your French lessons for beginners is actually paying off.
It’s always good to know a little history so in case you would like to know, France’s first newspaper was called the Gazette de France and was published in 1615. By 1631 it became a weekly periodical.
By the 18th century, there were around 1,300 newspapers published during the period covering the French Revolution and the Terreur, but most of these were based on the political propaganda of the day and didn’t last long.
Today, there are several French newspapers of an international standard, some of which you may have already heard of. Firstly, there are the daily papers like Le Monde, to regional papers like La Voix du Nord and local publications like Nice Matin.
Here are a few well known daily French newspapers:
- Le Monde is probably the most well-known of the French newspapers and the most accessible outside of France. This one should not be mixed up with Le Monde Diplomatique which is a left-wing publication that concentrates on foreign affairs and culture.
- Le Figaro is an international publication and the oldest French newspaper in circulation.
- Le Parisien is also daily that is France’s most widely read newspaper.
- Les Echos is a daily that focuses on economics and business.
Here is a list of France’s weekly newspapers:
- L’Express is a magazine, founded in 1953 and is very similar in style to Times Magazine.
- Le Nouvel Observateur, also known as l'Obs, publishes in-depth articles on current affairs.
- Paris Match is a tabloid that contains all the up-to-date and saucy information on France’s celebrities.
France is also known for its satirical newspapers, so look out for anything on this list if you would like your basic French lessons to include a dash of sarcasm:
- Le Canard Enchainé dates all the way back to World War I. This publication is privately owned and funded by its own journalists and is quite unique. There are no advertisements, it features political cartoons and investigative journalism which might make it difficult to incorporate into your basic French lessons.
- Charlie Hebdo is a French publication with mainly left-wing views that made international headlines for the publishing of a satirical cartoon which sparked a terrorist attack.
French Newspapers Online
When it comes to supplementing your basic French lessons by reading French books and newspapers, it doesn’t matter whether you are reading printed or online versions, you will still be familiarising yourself with French words – and this is so important when studying a new language!
Online newspapers often include a video with the article which could also be really helpful to your learning.
There are several exclusively online French newspapers, some you could search using Google include:
- France Soir, a daily publication that became exclusively available online in 2014.
- La Tribune, an economic newspaper that digitised in 2012. La Tribune also has a printed weekly version.
Using French Magazines to Improve French
If the news is too heavy to incorporate into your French lessons for beginners, find a magazine that covers your favourite topics or hobby. You might even find French translations of a magazine that you already subscribe to in English.
Printed French Magazines
The best place to pick up French magazines or French translations of your preferred English titles is in France. If you are fortunate enough to visit, make sure you check out the local newsagent or browse the magazine shelves at train stations and airports.
If you are unable to get to France, try finding someone who could ship you a stack of material on subject matter that you enjoy. It makes sense to learn French words on matters that are of interest to you! If you love cooking, try and get a copy of Cuisine & Vins de France or Cuisine et Terroirs.
French Blogs on Your Favourite Topics
In today’s digital world, you have access to just about everything, anywhere.
Why not try searching a few French blogs that cover favourite topics? Even just the act of searching online is an excellent way to make French lessons for beginners more interesting and more practical.
French Literature and Audio Books
Reading a book, especially if you already know the plot in English, is an excellent way to add to your basic French lessons.
Consider finding the French translations of your favourite classics. Then, you could even circle the French words you recognise in one colour and the ones you want to look up, in another.
Another way to learn French words is to read French translations of your favourite children’s books.
If you are feeling confident to dip into some classic French literature, here are a few titles to get you going.
For Beginners: Let Petit Prince
The Little Prince is a wonderful, bittersweet tale written by aviator Antoine de St.Exupéry, about innocence and love.
In the story, a young boy decides to leave his home which is an asteroid to find a friend. On his travels, he meets many strange people who reflect the trials and peculiarities of adulthood. After learning many lessons, he finds his purpose for living on the asteroid and decides to return.
The Little Prince is a great piece of simple and charming literature to incorporate into French lessons for beginners. The chapters are short and there is even a film on it too.
For Intermediate Readers: Candide
Even though Candide was first published in the 18th century, the language is actually not very complicated which makes it a great piece of literature to really give your basic French lessons a boost.
Written by Voltaire, Candide is a philosophical tale about the adventures of a young man who wants to be reunited with his love. Candide is a great way to add new French words to your vocabulary while actually being entertained.
For Advanced Readers: Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers)
If you have left your basic French lessons behind you and have begun more advanced classes, Les Trois Mousquetaires is a highly recommended read. Written by Alexandre Dumas, it is a 19th-century story of political adventure.
The reason this book is an excellent option is because it is descriptive and yet not as long-winded as other 19th century classics. This is one where you really want to have your dictionary at the ready – so be prepared to add a lot of new French words to your vocabulary.
If you don’t have time for reading, but still want to improve your French and add French words to your vocabulary, consider listening to audio books. This model of learning is also the best way to improve your French pronunciation.
Finally, when it comes to choosing French translations of magazines, newspapers, literature and audio books to supplement French lessons for beginners, the advice of a tutor would be helpful so as to ensure that you select material that is at the correct level for your ability. Remember, you need to choose content and find activities that keep you engaged.
If you don’t have a French tutor, consider searching for one on a tutoring platform where tutors are filtered by location – you might find one very near you. On Superprof, many tutors offer their introductory session for free which is a good way to find out if you think the tutor is right for you.
And if you can’t find a tutor near you, there’s no need to despair because if you have an internet connection and a webcam you could be tutored online with a French tutor from anywhere in the world – even France!