Improving Your French with YouTube Comédiens

You’ve long been looking for a way to brush up on your français in short, daily spurts that doesn’t involve opening a textbook – now you have one. If you’re stuck in a bit of a language learning rut and are looking for a more memorable way to spice things up, you could do worse than subscribing to the following French YouTubers.

The phenomenon of YouTube is showing no sign of letting up. Users can create and upload content in the blink of an eye from all over the world, resulting in a constant daily stream of new content. A lot of which is a load of rubbish, of course. But think of this as a prime opportunity. Not just for watching funny prank videos (you know the ones – often entitled ‘EPIC FAILS!!1’ or with a similar click-bait title), YouTube can also serve as an educative tool for improving your language skills. I myself, a learner of French throughout my academic career, genuinely find this to be one of the most useful and entertaining ways of getting my daily dose of French, keeping it ticking over whilst simultaneously never feeling like doing any work. It’s the best of both worlds, and once it becomes a routine (or at least, not an effort) you’ll find your language skills improve dramatically.

Normanfaitdesvidéos

I have long been a subscriber of Norman and have witnessed the quality of his videos (in terms of the filming, editing and actual content) grow enormously over the past couple of years. Now a quasi-French celebrity, his phone must constantly be ringing with all of the guest appearances he has made on various French television programmes, interviews he has given, as well as touring with his own stand up show in France and Belgium. A pretty busy schedule for a guy that was shooting fairly low quality videos in his bedroom only around 5 years ago.

His content is, by and large, genuinely hilarious and never fails to make me laugh. Subject matter is largely aimed at ‘Génération Y’ (the more technologically savvy generation), he never goes over the top with the editing and has a great deadpan style.

French learning +

- ‘Current’ vocabulary

- Often English subtitles on his videos

French learning –

- Not the best enunciation

- Speaks pretty quickly

Cyprien

The French Youtuber with the highest amount of subscribers (over 10 million! That’s more than the population of some countries in Europe!). You can tell that a lot of work goes into his material (although in a subtle way, which I like) and his videos are varied but with a consistent formula.  

French learning +

- Speaks clearly

- Easy speed to understand

French learning –

- Actually no negatives that spring to mind; he is arguably the best for intermediate/advanced level French learning purposes

 watching YouTube on smartphone with earplugs 

Why not have a watch on your commute?

Kemar

My personal favourite for the absurdity of his content.

He has a very droll, satirical style which tickles me greatly

You couldn’t exactly call uploads on his channel regular (maybe once a month, tops) but to be fair, he is often shooting for StudioBagel (more on that later). He has a very droll, satirical style which tickles me greatly. My favourites are from the ‘Micro-Crottoir’ series, in which he plays a variety of different characters, each one getting increasingly more ludicrous and unsettling. Budget/lighting etc. don’t come into the equation here which I think actually sits well with a lot of viewers – he isn’t trying too hard, and for that reason, his videos always have a slightly raw, and as a result, hilarious quality.

French learning +

- Often satirically uses quite formal/high level vocabulary which makes the material simultaneously more funny but also more useful to a language learner (I’ve genuinely used some of his video descriptions, for example, in French essays I’ve written)

French learning –

- Due to the bizarre personas he takes on, it’s sometimes hard to catch everything he is saying

Natoo

The only female on my list, I realise (although there are, as far as I’m aware, few well-known French comediennes). She is absolutely brilliant (and happens to be together with Kemar - their humour clearly rubs off on one another) and produces regular content.

French learning +

- She speaks very clearly and (relatively) slowly

French learning –

- Similarly to Kemar, she will often take on bizarre personas which make comprehension trickier

LeWoopGang

A group of actors/comedians who also do live shows, similar to Norman. Headed by MisterV (a YouTuber/podcaster in his own right and probably the funniest of the lot), they collectively might not be to everyone’s taste and I feel the quality of their videos has declined somewhat recently. Still pretty funny though and worth checking out.

French learning +

- You’ll definitely pick-up some nice colloquial phrases/street-slang from these guys. Most of my 'verlan' has definitely been as a result of watching these videos

French learning –

- The majority of them speak at a rapid rate and some of the speech tends to be quite garbled. The most challenging of the lot and only for advanced learners, I would suggest

StudioBagel/Golden Moustache

More of a troupe of professional actors, their videos clearly have a higher budget and more production value. Can be very hit and miss from my experience. Perhaps not worth subscribing to but worth having a look.

French learning +

- Often have English subtitles

French learning –

- Generally speak incredibly quickly (sometimes that it the point of the character or role)

- Sometimes very little dialogue in the videos (not great then for learning a language, duh!)

So there you have it. The channels mentioned obviously vary in their usefulness-to-entertainment ratio (some managing more of one than the other, some both). Naturally, if you are keen to start learning a language from scratch, there are plenty of good options as well. Ultimately, you never want it to become a drag – if you can find a way to work it into your daily routine, whether it’s a 10-minute vlog over breakfast or a 5-minute comedy skit over lunchtime, making a habit of it ensures you keep your brain on its toes and keeps you immersed.

About the author

Will

Will is a British intern at bab.la, hailing from the exotic south-eastern county of Essex, England. Having already lived in Biarritz, Paris, Berlin and now Hamburg during his studies, he hopes to be able to continue this trend and sample the finest delicacies from across the rest of Europe (and the world) before he runs out of money and stamina. He is obsessed with football and cooking, and enjoys the Great British Bake Off a little too much.

Enhance your vocabulary with these Youtuber favourites

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