When I was learning French in a classroom, one of the biggest challenges I faced was that I wasn't surrounded by native speakers. I was learning how to express myself, but not necessarily in the way that real French speakers would do it. I wanted to speak authentic French – but how?
Luckily, I got to spend some time in France, but not all of us have the resources or opportunity to do this. That's why you need awesome video resources like this one – it lets you hear how native speakers really sound! Plus, the bilingual subtitles allow you to read along in French or English.
Follow the lesson plan below to develop your skills in speaking (and understanding) a more authentic French. :)
Play the video once all the way through, sound only. Don't try to understand everything being said; simply absorb the language and listen to the accents. This allows you to warm up your "French brain." Don't worry if you have trouble understanding! Learning a language takes a lot of time and practice. :)
Now, watch the video, sound and video, following along with the French subtitles. If you don't understand what's being said, glance at the English subtitles (you can pause if you need to). Focusing on the French subtitles helps you better understand what you're hearing. The video does move pretty quickly, so don't be afraid to re-watch parts of it as necessary.
Read over the vocabulary below. I've included the phrases that native speakers use all the time, which you might not learn if you're studying in a classroom or on your own. Copy them down in your French notebook if you like! Practice saying each a few times. When you watch the video now for the third and final time, you'll probably find that your comprehension has improved!
Congratulations – you've just completed an excellent French practice session. :)
Ça bouge. – There's a lot going on.
Literally, "it moves." People often say this about cities where there's a lot of action, a lot happening, always something to do. "Ça bouge énormément," means, "there's always a ton going on."
Il y a plein de... – There's a lot of... (colloquial)
You've probably learned the more correct way to say there's a lot of something: "Il y a beaucoup de..." But in France, you'll hear this version a ton. It means the same thing – "Il y a plein de monde," and "Il y a beaucoup de monde," both mean "There are a lot of people." However, "plein de" is the more colloquial, informal way to say it. Kids use it more than adults do. I use both, depending on who I'm talking to.
Ça s'arrange. – It's manageable. / It works out okay.
Literally, "it arranges itself." The guy uses this around 1:20 after he complains that Paris is a bit big for his tastes. "Mais ça va, ça s'arrange," he says, or "But it's fine, it's manageable." You might use this phrase in the future tense – "Ça va s'arranger," – when you want to tell someone, "It'll work out okay," or "It'll work itself out."
Se promener – To wander, to walk around and explore, to go for a walk
A colloquial synonym for this that you'll hear a lot is "se balader." The man at 1:30 enjoys going to Paris and walking around, seeing the sights. Note his pronoun use: "me promener" means to go for a walk, while "m'y promener" means to go for a walk THERE (meaning Paris).
...et tout ça – and all that
In English, you might say, "There's a lot of cultural things to do, with the museums and all that." It's the same in French, as the girl says at 1:41: "les musées et tout ça." Generally used in the same way as et cetera.
sympa – nice
Short for sympathique, which literally means nice or kind. Sympa is used very frequently in French, just like in English we use nice to describe all kinds of things. "Une personne sympa" is a nice person, "un endroit sympa" is a nice place or area. You can even describe an experience as "sympa." Another throwaway word French young people use to describe everything? "Cool! C'est cool!"
...quoi – (there's no real translation. Maybe "y'know" or something.)
When French speakers, particularly young people, want to sound a little cool or blasé, they add "quoi" to the end of sentences. It doesn't really add anything to the meaning of the sentence, and it's certainly not formal or correct. But it's a form of slang that's really common, kind of how Americans say "like" all the time. Hear the guy at 3:24 use it: "Chacun est renfermé, quoi."
Voilà – Exactly / There you have it
French people use this word more than you can even imagine. It's everywhere. When we traveled to Nice together, even my dad, who doesn't speak any French, picked up on it. If you want to sound more authentic, agree with people by saying, "Voilà." You can also say, "Exactement," (exactly) or "Je suis complètement d'accord." (I completely agree.)