Searching for fun ways to keep up with French language
August 6, 2011 1:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm fairly fluent in French and would like fun ideas for keeping up with the language.

By "fairly fluent," I mean I can get around fine without a dictionary. I also took a literature course at the University of Nantes and understood about 80-90% of the lecture...on the other hand, went out to dinner with a group of 30 and 40 something French natives and had a much harder time following the conversation--understood more like 30%.

I love the language, but have little opportunity to use it nowadays. I plan on returning to France every 10 years or so to visit and would like to keep somewhat in touch with the language--especially current vocabulary, including slang and idioms.

Are there any fun and/or well-written blogs or TV shows (accessible online only--don't have cable) that you could recommend to keep up with my language skills?

Or do you have any other ideas for light-hearted ways to follow French language and culture? I discovered this YouTube channel by a French student named Julie that talks about makeup, which fits the bill for me:

Other areas of interest: paper crafts, Provence, education, pop culture.

Thanks in advance!
posted by lirael2008 to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mdonley at 1:29 AM on August 6, 2011

livemocha is a site for learning languages from native speakers. You could set up conversations with French people.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 1:41 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

My mom keeps up with her Portuguese by reading YA novels and her favorite books in that language- so she has, for example, read all the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books in Portuguese since she came back. She has a truly stupendous vocabulary in re: elves and witches for a former missionary. I'm sure you could do the same with French.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:43 AM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

maybe it does not fit your "fun" requirement but C dans l'air is the best "serious political" show in any language IMHO and it is available online to watch.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:50 AM on August 6, 2011

Best answer: Check the front page of the French Wikipedia site every couple of days and click through to whichever random featured article grabs your interest. A good way of introducing yourself to unexpected new vocabulary. Read, and maybe translate.

Also, in the past I've found it quite absorbing to get involved in the discussions on This is particularly the case when you are trying to use the language actively rather than passively.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 2:35 AM on August 6, 2011

Best answer: Garance Doré (Scott Schuman's SO) has a great fashion blog in French, and there's also the option to switch to English which can be helpful sometimes.

You could start listening to mostly French music. Camille is fun, and I heard this song the other day which reminded me I need to search for more French artists.

Autour de la question, is a pretty interesting podcast, definitely worth checking out. Bon courage!
posted by seriousmoonlight at 2:44 AM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, I know plenty of people who watch American tv shows online that are dubbed in French. I don't know where to direct you but I imagine you can just search something like "streaming en français".
posted by seriousmoonlight at 2:50 AM on August 6, 2011

If you live in a college town or a larger city, there may be French conversation meetups to be found. Also, advertising on craigslist for a conversation exchange - your French for my English - might be fruitful.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:48 AM on August 6, 2011

French Podcasts! You can search for them on virtually any topic of interest and perhaps people will have specific suggestions for your interests.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:22 AM on August 6, 2011

You may be amused by Parlez-Moi (educational, firmly in the pop culture pantheon for, um, Ontarioans of a certain age?)
posted by kmennie at 6:16 AM on August 6, 2011

Listen to the radio! You can work your way through this fairly exhaustive list of French radio stations streaming on the Web. I recommend France Info or France Inter for news, France Culture for interviews and "think" pieces, Rire et Chansons for the comedy (a great way to learn slang). One that's not on the list that might be fun is Radio Ici et Maintenant, a kind of new-age station, where there are interviews and discussions about everything from UFOs to conspiracy theories to alternative medicine. They also do call-ins, which means you can listen to real people rather than perfectly-enunciating radio professionals.

I also agree with sciencegeek: look around where you live for a French person willing to exchange conversation. That's really the best way.
posted by Paris Elk at 6:38 AM on August 6, 2011

Best answer: FMyLife is in French and is sorta fun, particularly for colloquial language.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Is there a French school or French immersion school in your town? You could volunteer there or somehow get involved with it.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2011

I like to read the culture section of French newspapers - here's the culture section of Le Figaro, where I've found enjoyable articles about Paul Simon, Johnny Hallyday (he has a new album! It's really not very good!), and interesting theatre that's going on in Paris.

I also really enjoy listening to the "Making Of" series on Belgian radio RTBF. Enthusiastic Belgians discussing the making of your favorite classic rock albums! Totally worth it for me just to hear them say "[French accent] Tumbleweed Connection de Elton John[/French accent]". "Making Of" is available via iTunes, but the episodes expire pretty fast, and things sometimes get mislabelled or poorly labelled, so it's nice to have the website handy too.
posted by kristi at 5:57 PM on August 6, 2011 is worth a look and has a free e-hebdo.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:39 PM on August 6, 2011

Comic books!France has a viberant and insanely entertaining comic book culture.

Older stuff and classics

And my current favorite living French comics author/artist

The Rabbi's Cat is just wonderful.
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 PM on August 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who responded so far...yes, I've tried the national TV channels but it seems like I can only access the news and not the sitcoms (eg I tried watching a recent episode of one of those CSI equivalents). I've also tried listening to radio stations that stream online.

Unfortunately I do not have access to a French school or French-speaking community where I live.

I've also thought about reading YA books in French, but when I looked at the bookstores it seemed that a lot of the popular books were translations from English or other European languages and I'm more interested in reading works originally written in French.

I was wondering if there was a French equivalent to YouTube or Hulu or popular miscellaneous blogs like LifeHacker.
posted by lirael2008 at 10:48 PM on August 6, 2011

I like watching DVDs with the subtitles on French. That way I can follow the dialogue along. It's not always a perfect translation but the pace is very quick and helps with the conversational pace of everyday French.
posted by therewolf at 12:10 AM on August 7, 2011

I have heard that people are learning & practicing languages over Skype or Google Hangouts.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 8:09 AM on August 7, 2011

I've been looking for foreign language equivalents of reddit and metafilter, myself. There are foreign language subreddits, but they're fairly sparsely populated-- are there any fast moving general interest forums in French? (or any other language for that matter)
posted by empath at 11:34 AM on August 8, 2011

Best answer: empath -- look at, and filter by the language you want. Here are all the biggest discussion forums in French, for example
posted by rollick at 2:43 PM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: found more videos of french tv:
posted by lirael2008 at 1:24 AM on August 26, 2011

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