Did you know you can use Netflix to learn French? It’s true! And it’s one of the most fun ways to learn a new language. So grab some popcorn and get ready to “Netflix and chill” your way to better French. Before you dive in, we have some suggestions on how to get the most out of your screen time. After you read our quick guide, check out our list of the best French movies and TV shows on Netflix for learners.
Who Should Use Netflix to Learn French?
We think that Netflix is a great way for anybody to improve their French, but we do have some recommendations. One study by American researchers showed that watching movies or TV shows with subtitles was effective for all but the very newest learners. If you’re at the very start of your language learning journey, you may want to wait before diving in.
Once you’ve learned a bit of vocabulary, you’ll be all set to get the most out of Netflix. Don’t forget, you can use MosaLingua’s app to learn new vocabulary fast. When you feel ready, start by watching Netflix with subtitles in your native language. As you get more comfortable, you can switch to subtitles in French, and eventually, turn off the subtitles altogether.
How to Use Netflix to Improve Your French
To get the most out of your French Netflix marathons, here are some important tips and suggestions. You might be used to watching movies or TV to unwind, but at least in the beginning, we recommend an environment that’s more suited to learning.
- Make sure the room is well lit. If it’s too dark, you may start to drift off and lose your focus. You might also find that your eyes get tired from reading the subtitles when the room is totally dark.
- Be prepared with a pen and paper. Write down new words as you go instead of constantly pausing your show to look things up. This is a great way to learn French with Netflix, especially if you want to pick up local vocabulary and French slang.
- Finally, make sure you’re comfortable — and don’t forget to grab some snacks! If you’re already familiar with using subtitles on Netflix, click here to jump to our recommendations. Otherwise, keep reading!
How to use subtitles on Netflix to learn French
Subtitles can be a great resource when you start using Netflix to improve your French. Start by watching series or films on Netflix with subtitles in English. When you’re more comfortable, you can switch to French subtitles to help you follow along with the dialogue. Finally, when you’re confident with your level of French, remove the subtitles altogether. These are important steps. It can be a bit unnerving moving up to the next level, but you have to if you want to keep making progress. It can be tempting to use subtitles on Netflix as a crutch — but as soon as you feel comfortable, make sure you take the next step. This way, you’ll be sure to keep improving!
Immersing yourself with audio description
Audio description is different from subtitling, but both accessibility features are helpful for learners. Instead of reading the dialogue on the screen, a voice will describe what you’re watching. This is a great way to improve your descriptive vocabulary and sentence structure. And since you’ll always see what’s being described, you can follow along more easily. The connection between hearing and seeing will help improve your comprehension. Audio description exists for many but not all shows. This is just one great way to immerse yourself in French.
Regional restrictions on French movies
Not all French movies and series are available outside of France. At the time of writing (February 2020), all of these shows and movies were available on American Netflix, and most of them were available globally. However, one or more of the shows listed below might not be available in your region. One way to get around this — although we don’t condone it — is to use a VPN. Otherwise, you can always go to France on vacation! Netflix also adds and removes content regularly, so if one of the shows on our list isn’t available to you now, be sure to check back frequently. If you want to learn French with Netflix but you can’t watch the shows on our list, browse by genre.
How to use this list
We’ve divided up our favorite French Netflix movies and shows into three levels of difficulty: content for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced learners. This is based on the presence of slang, the complexity of the language, the range of vocabulary, and the complexity of the subject matter and storyline. However, remember that you can also vary the level of difficulty with subtitles! If you’re finding one of the beginner shows too easy with subtitles, try watching it without any. If you want to dive into the more difficult ones, try watching them with subtitles in English, and then moving to French. The categories are just guidelines, and you can play around with your subtitles and audio description to find a good level for yourself.
Netflix in French for Beginners
The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin, 2011) [Animated Movie]
If you want to learn French with Netflix, you really have to watch this childhood classic. If you’re too young to remember the original adventures of Tintin and his adorable and clever dog Snowy, you can still join in the fun with this Netflix movie. The original actors actually speak English, but because it’s an animated film the French version feels perfectly natural. Plus, it’s based on a beloved Belgian comic book series, so the French voice actors are excellent.
It’s a film made for the whole family, so the language and subject matter is easy to follow. But don’t worry — this famous Belgian amateur detective will keep you plenty entertained. In this particular adventure, Tintin and Snowy aid an old sea-hound named Captain Haddock (whom Tintin fans will recognize from the original movies and TV show) to recover pirate treasure once held by Haddock’s ancestors. The language is simple and straight-forward, but there’s plenty of action and lots of dialogue to keep you engaged.
Heartbreaker (L’arnacoeur, 2010) [Movie]
Heartbreaker is a romantic comedy (comédie romantique) set in Monaco, a French-speaking country bordering the South of France. Alex, his sister Melanie, and her husband Marc have a unique business. Concerned friends or family can hire them to infiltrate the lives of unhappy couples and give them the push they need to break up – for a price. Marc has just one cardinal rule: he only intervenes if the woman is truly unhappy. However, when the trio is hired by a gangster to stop the marriage of his daughter, they find that the couple are a match made in heaven. Financial pressures push Marc to take the job anyway, but things don’t go quite as expected.
This is one of the best French movies on Netflix. It’s light-hearted, full of laughs, and easy to follow. The language is fun and relatively straight-forward, and a good amount of physical comedy helps break up the dialogue.
Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent, 2015) [TV Series]
Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent) is a comedy-drama series that follows the lives of four movie-star agents trying to keep their agency afloat after the sudden and unexpected death of its founder. Besides getting a behind-the-scenes (albeit cliché) look at French cinema, the show keeps it fresh with a series of guest stars and an engaging plot. Mixing the superficial and the profound, Call My Agent is at times hilarious and at others tear-jerking. While there is some movie and TV industry-specific jargon, you’ll catch on quickly, and the language is usually quite simple. The actors are evocative and both the comedic and dramatic aspects mean that facial expressions, gestures and body language will help you follow along with the dialogue.
The Best French Shows on Netflix for Intermediate Learners
The Hook Up Plan (Plan Coeur, 2018) [TV Series]
Another French rom-com series, The Hook Up Plan is about Elsa, approaching 30 and still hung up on her ex, and her two friends Charlotte and Emilie who scheme to get her out of her rut. Elsa meets a charming, witty, handsome man — but has no idea he’s an escort hired by her two conspiring friends. Hilariously tense situations and farce-style ins-and-outs make this an engaging and fun comedy with lots of laughs between cringes and bated breath. The Hook Up Plan is a good start for intermediate speakers. The actors speak and act with lots of emotion, and the language they use is a little more mature and informal.
A Very Secret Service (Au Service de la France, 2015) [TV Series]
Step aside, Austin Powers! A Very Secret Service follows the sometimes heroic, often hilarious efforts of André, an unsuspecting and unlikely French secret service trainee. While the comedy—both spoken and physical—is light and fun, the context is historically enlightening. You’ll have a chance to learn about France’s role in the Cold War and its struggles over independence with both French West Africa and Algeria. The series parodies spy and crime-detective films and TV shows from this period in France’s history. André must navigate labyrinthine French bureaucracy and put out unending political fires. He and his three instructors will keep you entertained while you learn political jargon and more than a few plays on words.
The Chalet (Le Chalet, 2018) [Mini-Series]
Le Chalet is a whodunit crime thriller set in two timelines over 6 episodes. Because it’s a mini-series, you can learn French with Netflix without making a huge investment. You’ll be able to watch the whole thing in a short time. In 1997, Jean-Louis moves his family to the sleepy alpine village of Valmoline, hoping to remedy his writers’ block. Their transition to the village is not easy, and the family members turn outward for relief from their domestic problems. One day, the family disappears, without explanation.
Twenty years later, the children of Valmoline are grown up and back in town for a wedding. But when a rockslide traps six of them in a chalet with no internet or phone service, secrets from the past come out. A terrible crime follows not long after. The Chalet will keep you on the edge of your seat and paying attention — which is great for our purposes! The language is sometimes difficult, and the actors do not always speak clearly or facing the camera. Use English subtitles at first if you have to, but try it with French subtitles and see how you do.
Netflix in French for Advanced Learners
The Break (La Trève, 2016) [TV Series]
Set in French-speaking Belgium, The Break follows the story of Yoann Peters, a police detective who moves from Brussels back to his hometown, where a suspected suicide has just rocked the community. Peters, however, finds evidence of foul play and pursues an investigation. Bit by bit, we discover the sinister underbelly of this seemingly peaceful town, and who may have had a motive in the crime.
La Trève is on our advanced list because of the difficult language and complex subject matter. Viewers have to keep track of a number of different threads to really appreciate the show. Don’t worry if you miss some things the first time you watch. You can always hit that Pause button and go back! The dialogue is varied and includes some medical and police jargon. Individuals often speak unclearly or mumble, and unstable or indirect camera angles make it difficult to see some speakers’ lips. However, the story is engaging and with subtitles in either English or French, you’re sure to learn lots.
Ad Vitam (2018) [Mini-Series]
In a future where death essentially no longer exists, the collective suicide of seven young people is an anomaly. 119-year-old detective Darius and a rebellious and quarrelsome young woman named Christa investigate the deaths. Together, they try to piece together the mystery of the suicides, apparently linked to some kind of fanatic cult. Ad Vitam has great visual effects and a pleasure to watch. Its depiction of a world without death, and all the social and economic problems that come with it, is stimulating and thought-provoking.
The language is mature and while often direct, the complex storyline means that missing one or two things can cause confusion. Be prepared for a fair amount of technical, medical and judicial jargon. Treat this as a learning opportunity for some fantastic vocabulary and you’ll be in the right mindset to take full advantage of the dialogue.
Osmosis (2019) [TV Series]
Osmosis is the story of a small but technologically advanced dating-app firm whose goal is to bring true love to its users. Users swallow a pill that monitors their brain, hormones and social media accounts to find them the perfect match. We get to see not only the emotional and psychological effects of the program on its 12 trial participants, but also the intense pressures that motivate and obstruct the firm’s passionate but often discordant team.
Osmosis is an engaging sci-fi look at the near future. Fans of Black Mirror will find themselves right at home. The language is often complex, with made-up slang and future technical jargon, plus lots of psychological and medical terminology to keep you on your toes. The series is emotionally charged, and there is no shortage of laughing, crying and screaming to make the language that much more difficult to grasp. However, with subtitles and perseverance, you’re sure to enjoy this realistic, intense, and emotional futuristic drama.
So there you have it, our favorite Netflix shows and movies for French learners, whether you’re new to the language or practically fluent. Did we miss one of your favorites? If you’ve already learned French using Netflix, comment below to share your recommendations! For more, check out:
- The super short French TV show, Bref, which is great for people who can’t seem to stay focused throughout an entire 20- to 60-minute episode of a French Netflix show.
- The 7 Best TV Shows for Learning French
- The Best French Movies for Improving Your Understanding
- and MosaSeries: L’Homme Sans Nom, a MosaLingua original audio series designed to help users improve their listening comprehension in French with a captivating mystery!
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