Media circus

Having a good grasp of French is a must if you’re planning to live in France. There are lots of ways the media can help you get to grips with the language before you make a permanent move…

On the airA great way to grow more accustomed to French spoken at conversation speed is to listen to French radio. Listening on a regular basis will help your ear and brain get to grips with everyday speech and you will soon find yourself laughing along with the quips and asides as things start to become clearer. Radio France broadcasts a wide range of programmes, which can be accessed via the internet (see www.radiofrance.fr) or, particularly if you live in the south of England, via long wave and FM frequencies on your humble radio! So whether you enjoy news, culture, discussion or music, you’re bound to find a programme which captures your interest and improves your French, and all from the comfort of your own living room.Channel surfingTelevision of course is a great way to improve your French language skills and in this case, at least there are pictures to help you decipher what’s going on. TV5 is an international television channel dedicated to promoting French language and culture. It is run by a consortium of broadcasters from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada and programming includes news, chat shows, quiz shows, sitcoms, dramas and documentaries. The website www.tv5.org is a great way to access all the programmes and language-learning material but you can also watch TV5 on your television via cable or satellite. Screen testSettling down with a glass of wine to watch a DVD is a perfect way to round off a busy week but it’s also a great opportunity to work on your French. There are hundreds of French films out there… both with and without subtitles and now with the advent of the DVD you can often choose the language you want to watch the film in before you press play. Try watching the same film twice – once in English and then in French – to see if that helps you better understand the action. Many libraries have sections dedicated to foreign films, making it easier to borrow them for a small fee rather than having to spend a fortune.Cast the netDownloading a podcast and listening to it while running or at the gym will take your mind off the pain of exercise and help you focus on your French. Listening to podcasts aimed at children is ideal; the subject matter is entertaining and the vocabulary and sentence structure simple enough for non-native speakers to follow fairly easily. Try the Petits B�teaux podcasts on Radio France’s France Inter station (http://sites.radiofrance.fr/franceinter) to access a collection of children’s amusing and thought-provoking questions followed by answers from experts.Hobby horseBuying French magazines that feature a hobby or interest are a good way to extend your vocabulary. Just as in the UK, in France hundreds of magazines are produced covering a vast spectrum of specialist topics so whether you’re into gardening, home interiors, horse riding, skydiving, photography or sailing, you’re bound to find a magazine which will hold your fascination long enough to help you brush up on lots of new words. Concentrating on a subject you’re interested in will help you remember what you’ve read and will also stand you in good stead when you take up your hobbies following a move to France.