If you're learning to speak French, and like music, you can combine both to help you improve your French. In this article, we're going to talk about the benefits of using songs to learn French and some of the best French songs for French learners.
Did you know that music is beneficial to your brain?
There has been plenty of proofs that music can help you focus and is, therefore, useful for learning. I'm sure that many of you French learners like music. And because I have used songs before to learn French with success, I decided to write this article.
The goal here is to help you choose the coolest, easiest-to-understand, but entertaining songs to learn to speak French. From classic French songs to modern ones, I include songs to cover every taste.
Don't worry if you're just beginning to learn French. Since music is universal, this method doesn't exclude complete beginners.
Follow my tips on using songs to improve your French so that you can reap the benefits faster.
Benefits of Using Songs to Learn to Speak French
Here at Speechling, we always want to introduce you to the best ways of learning to speak languages. Music is definitely one of them.
Here's how songs can be a great help when you're trying to progress your French speaking!
1. Improve memory
Have you ever noticed that it's easier to memorize lyrics than anything else?
There's a study proving that sung words, associated with rhythms and melody get "stuck" more efficiently in our brain to compensate for the flaws in our memory. It's not surprising that many great teachers take advantage of music to help their students remember their lessons.
When you're learning a French song (note that I use the word "learning" instead of merely "listening"), you'll see that the words tend to stick around, too.
If you couple this with the effort to understand what the lyric means:
Boom! You're golden: you'll remember the words PLUS their definition for a long time (even forever - if you keep using them).
2. Build Vocabulary
Learning vocabulary is tough if what you do is sitting down with a dictionary. Try a fun way!
Among the best ways that we recommend:
In songs, there are words that you have never even heard before, maybe even some slangs.
At first, they will sound foreign to you. But I'm inviting you to look them up and write them down.
When you understand them and hear them often (as songs tend to repeat some words over and over again), they'll no more hold a mystery. You can, then, use them in other instances.
And this is a much more efficient way of building your vocabulary than the spaced repetition method!
3. Get a Taste of the French Culture
By learning the culture, you develop an understanding of how the people think and act in a given situation. As a result, you start to see the "logic" behind their grammatical rules and syntaxes.
Songs are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in French culture and help you progress!
4. Help You in Pronunciation
For many people, French pronunciation is one of the most challenging aspects to master when learning to speak French.
But French songs can help you with this! Through a song, you can hear how a native speaker pronounces certain words.
And even better, some words are also repeated multiple times (for example, like in the chorus), which will allow you to REALLY get how one should say them.
Now that you know how so-and-so words sound, you'll feel more confident to replicate that sound with your mouth.
If you need more help to boost your confidence, here at Speechling we have pronunciation coaches who'll be happy to help!
Best Songs to Learn French
Now, if you're convinced that music can help you in your French-learning curve, here are six excellent songs that you can try.
1. Champs Élysées by Joe Dassin
This is one of the first songs that I learned and made me want to come to Paris and see this magnificent avenue.
What's so great about this song for French learners:
- it's upbeat rhythm
- it's catchy melody (you won't forget it soon)
- the words are not hard to understand. If you're an intermediate French learner, you must already understand 70% of the lyrics.
2. Papaoutai by Stromae
You may have heard about Stromae, the Belgian singer/songwriter. Well, this is one of his amazing works.
The song is great for beginners since it uses le Présent Simple (Simple Present Tense). Plus, the words in the song are those that people use on a daily basis, like "travailler" (to work), "parler" (to talk), and "devoir" (must).
3. Quelqu'un qui m'a dit by Carla Bruni
This is another catchy song. It's soft, and the slow rhythm are perfect for those who enjoy the songs with a cafe vibe.
I would recommend this song for beginner and intermediate French learners alike. The words are easy and familiar enough.
Some sentences may be too long for beginners to decipher, but when you break them into several chunks, it's not an impossible feat. Consider it your "progress can be found outside of your comfort zone" moment!
4. La vie en rose by Edith Piaf
If you've watched the Pixar movie called "Wall E," you must have heard this song but in the English version. Try the French one for a more authentic experience.
Even though some would consider it as a "classic French song," the lyric is one of the easiest you can find out there. Even if you only know basic French, you'll get a grasp of what it is about.
Plus, it only uses the Simple Present Tense, which should facilitate your comprehension further.
Another great song for beginners from Edith Piaf is Non, je ne regrette rien.
5. Pour que tu m'aimes encore by Celine Dion
Would this list be complete without something from the great Celine Dion?
This song is one of my favorite French songs because it's so easy to memorize - it tends to stick in one's head.
Besides, you'll be able to see the examples of using Subjonctive (Subjunctive) in a sentence through this song. That's a big reason to learn it in my opinion.
6. Bella by Maître Gims
If you like hip hop, this is the perfect song for you. Maître Gims is a famous French hip-hop artist.
Since it's a recent song, you can expect to find idioms and slangs. But don't be intimated, as they are super easy to understand.
Also, even if the song is fast, the words are those that you may have already learned in class. I'm pretty confident you can understand it after learning the lyrics.
How to Use Songs to Learn French
If you're ready to learn your first French song, that's great! But first, check out these tips on learning to speak French through music to super-speed your progress.
1. Pick Songs You Like
Like for movies and books, you should not force yourself to listen to music you don't like. If you hate it, it's guaranteed that you don't want anything to do with it.
But the more you like it, the more likely you feel motivated to study it.
It's okay to pick the songs based on the genre or melody first (check the point number 2). The goal here is to make sure you'll want to know what the words mean.
2. Listen First, Understand Later
I encourage you to listen to a few songs from your favorite genre first, before picking one that piques your interest the most.
Try to enjoy the melody first, the rhythms, and so on. Do this at least once.
Now that it's become familiar try to understand what it says/means. Start from the title before anything else.
Then, go into a deeper understanding of the lyrics. Translate them with a dictionary. The more you understand what it says, the more engaged you are to the song itself.
And ultimately, try to understand the grammar rules. Find out the tenses used and why. This will help you with your grammar and syntax learning.
3. Listen Often
Listening to music is so fun, that you can forget the final objective.
Be a serious and active learner. Make a point to listen to the same song at least once a day. This is also why it's important to choose songs that you like.
It's okay if you don't understand the song entirely at first. The more you listen to it, the more the elements make sense.
And when you've grasped some sentences from the lyric and really understood them, try using them in real life.
Music is great when learning French because you can use it for pronunciation, cultural aspects, and learning grammar all at the same time.
Also, don't forget that when you listen to music, your brain gets a boost. Your mood picks up, and your interest gets (re)piqued. This is an excellent thing which will help you stay motivated.
Plus, it's also cool to be able to sing an entire song in French, right?
When you've "mastered" a French song, you'll be confident to learn many others. This is a good sign and we're encouraging you to find another one you love!