The short answer is yes. It is not only a very good way to acquire the language, but it also gives you an insight into French culture that you would normally only have if you lived in the country.
Bear in mind there is a right way to do it so you get the most benefit for your time though - if you are at beginner/ intermediate level, pick a genre that you enjoy watching in your native language, choose a film/series in French, set the subtitles and enjoy!
Advanced students will not need them, unless they are presented with a new category of vocabulary they don’t know - medical jargon, for instance - in which case they come in very handy.
My recommendation would be to always have subtitles turned on in the target language (ie the language you are trying to learn), except if you are a complete beginner, in which case you need to read both French and English subtitles, as otherwise you won’t understand anything and will be put off.
Interestingly, I tested this approach myself when learning Spanish, which I learnt mostly with videos (but also with grammar books, as ideally you need both). I didn’t have any apps other than YouTube and as much as it did the job, it wasn’t optimal – I thought it was lacking a few functionalities that would have helped me learn faster. But you can’t complain when it’s free, right?
This is where the latest app I trialled comes in – it’s called LingoPie and is basically an enhanced version of Netflix and YouTube rolled into one.
The first thing that sold it to me is the fact that you can watch content in nine different languages with just one subscription. In my case I love alternating between French and Spanish comedies.
Take a look at Desperate Parents, which became a hit in France a few years ago. It’s a deep-dive into the home life of two very different families who are neighbours: one conservative and one liberal. It’s absolutely hilarious and typically French at the same time. I strongly recommend watching it.
Just like Netflix, the content is categorised so you can find something to watch pretty quickly. But, unlike Netflix, you can choose between films, series, documentaries or podcasts with subtitles in both languages, which means you can always find something to watch even as a complete beginner!
And what if you think the actors speak to fast? Simply adjust the playback speed (there are five different speeds to choose from).
You can also create your own flashcards with the new words at the click of a button, so you can go back and revise the vocabulary later on.
In view of the above, LingoPie is not a free app – it will cost you $12 per month if you pay monthly, or $5.99 per month if you pay yearly, but it has a 7-day FREE trial which I recommend. But considering the features it is loaded with, and the fact you have access to all nine languages in one subscription, I find it very good value for money.
Check it out here: Learn French with real TV shows and movies | Lingopie
A bientôt :)
Beginner's Guide to French