So have you ever watched a French film?
Thank goodness for those subtitles or else you’d make so many mistakes in understanding the film, no?
Thankfully, it’s not a matter of life or death, unlike some movie plots featured in the upcoming Cannes Film Festival!
Check out the article below for more on how to avoid the top 3 mistakes when watching a French movie, and check out the video for some French that will never die!
(This week: the verb MOURIR – to die)
The Cannes film festival is around the corner, and it made me think of how move-watching is considered a must-do activity for a francophile who wants to improve their language. But it also made me think of its traps.
First, I’d like to tell you about this year’s festival. I was swept away by the details of the upcoming event – the greatest film festival in the world.
Between 13-24 of May, this year’s festival brings an even greater crowd on the glittering shores of the Côte d’Azur.
The official selection of 17 movies includes: Carol (Cate Blanchett), Macbeth (Marion Cotillard), Youth (Michael Cane) The Lobster (Colin Farrell), the Sea of Trees (Matthew McConaughey), Louder than bombs (Isabelle Huppert). The opening film will feature Catherine Deneuve – a French icon known by most francophiles.
I told you I got swept away – and then some – when I saw the poster featuring Ingrid Bergman who was President of the Jury in 1973. When I read about Cannes, its hotels and red carpet, I was almost sorry I wasn’t there, but then I remembered the overpowering crowd in the venues. Even while the names Hotel Martinez, Petit Majestic, Nikki Beach sound appealing, we know that one has to be invited or accredited to enjoy the entire show of the festival.
But you and I will most likely watch these movies at home, and we will want to watch the French ones (La loi du marché, La tête haute, Je suis un soldat), possibly with subtitles.
So, what is the big danger of watching French movies? Here are 3 scenarios:
Your level is much too low for this exercise. You understand some words but majority of the dialogue is hard to follow. That frustrates you because of your level and, if you insist on watching more movies, it may convince you that you don’t have any chance at mastering the language.
You may try to use subtitles and thus your attention is split between the French audible dialogue and the English subtitles. Your brain is easily fatigued when switching activities at that pace PLUS the subtitles rarely cover the spoken dialogue because of the difference between the speed of the speech and the speed of human reading.
You find it easy to follow the French dialogue and the English subtitles. Then, I must caution you that the translation is often unreliable for expressions. Most times subtitles are automated and the meaning as well as subtleties of the expressions are often lost. Or, if translators write the subtitles, I found that people who don’t live in both cultures don’t find easily the equivalent for the expressions, and the result could be quite confusing.
So, what is the solution for the movie lover who wants to enjoy a good French flick?
Don’t rush into movie watching before creating a solid foundation for your ear training and comprehension. Watch the movie with subtitles without forcing yourself to follow the French dialogue.
Take care of your pronunciation – if you pronounce the French words correctly, you will understand what the French are saying even at a faster pace.
Go on a 1-on-1 immersion with an instructor who can guide you into the spoken language at your own pace. Group immersions are rarely effective, as they reduce the participants to an average level.
If you want to take advantage of the benefits of watching French movies, and improve your listening and speech, speak out loud as you are watching it – passive listening doesn’t work, because you’re not preparing to respond, you’re not engaged, the brain wants lazy comfort. Don’t give it to it! 😉
Immerse yourself as you FINALLY reach your dream of becoming bilingual, learn to speak Parisian French and BREAK your language barrier!
Now it is your turn!
Comment below and let me know how many weeks you think it takes you to learn French.
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À la prochaine,
Photo credit: Amazon