Readers’ tips: What is the best French TV show for language learners?

Each week The Local asks its readers to share their tips about various aspects of living in France. This week we asked their opinion on the best French TV show to watch for people trying to learn the language. And they came up with a lot of good viewing options.

Readers' tips: What is the best French TV show for language learners?
Photo: Depositphotos

So which TV show is the best for improving your French?

There were a lot of different suggestions but the overall winner was watching the news or news programmes… with French subtitles if possible. 

Why did our readers think the news was such a good way to learn French?

Reader Roy Beard recommended BFM TV for its 24 hours of news and the fact that “most newscasters talk clearly and slowly.”

Another reader said the reason why it was so effective is that you are “usually familiar with whats going on, which makes it easier to understand what is being said”. 

Also, he added, “usually the stories are repeated, so one can piece together the gist of the conversation.”
If you're interested in using French news channels as a way of improving your French, in addition to BFM TV there is also C NEWS, France INFO TV, LCI France 24 in French , Euronews and you'll also find news programmes on M6 and France 2.  
Several people commented that it was important to watch French television with French subtitles rather than English ones which might be your instinct.
Tom Killiam, who is a firm believer in the value of using French subtitles said: “You need to move out of constantly translating to make progress. Also, make free use of the pause button and dictionary” on your TV.
Which other French TV shows were recommended?
Several readers also recommended watching quiz shows, such as the French equivalent of Pointless (Personne n'y avait pensé!) and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (Qui veut gagner des millions?) and French game show Slam
“Vocabulary is helped by quiz questions and then chat with contestants is good for exposure to general chit chat /small talk themes,” said Caroline Middleton. 
Reader Clare Jevon, who also recommended game shows (as well as cookery shows) also had advice on how to go about using them as learning aids… and she was one of a few who suggested English subtitles were worth a go.
“Record a programme, give it a go, then rewatch with English subtitles,” she said (see Tweet below). 
Some also advised beginners start by watching kids TV shows like Peppa Pig and Rugrats in French as a way of easing your way in. 

Meanwhile some of the more advanced among you might want to give Tom Killiam's tip a go – the well-known hit police show Spiral (Engrenages in French). 

“You'll know you've progressed to master level when you can follow the super-fast Parisian blather in the top cop show Spiral!” he wrote. 

If you would like to ask The Local's readers a question to hear their tips on life in France, email us at [email protected]


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Readers reveal the worst places in France for pickpockets… and tips to avoid them

If you're someone who has had their holiday to France ruined by a pickpocket, then you're certainly not alone. And it isn't only in the French capital that you have to watch out.

Readers reveal the worst places in France for pickpockets... and tips to avoid them
One reader said that people should watch out for pickpockets at Lyon train station (pictured above). Photo: AFP
A recent report revealed that 2019 has seen a surge of cases of pickpocketing on the Paris metro. But the French capital isn't the only place in France where you need to watch out for petty crime. 
We asked our readers who know France well to tell us where else in the country you need to be that extra bit cautious about your handbag, wallet or phone and for any advice on keeping possessions safe.  
Unsurprisingly many of the places mentioned by readers were in cities with high levels of tourism. 
One of the places that came up again and again was the eastern French city of Strasbourg, with readers noting that thieves tend to operate around the train station, old town and the very popular Christmas markets. 

Photo: AFP

“I was targeted by pickpockets in Strasbourg walking near the old town. Two women – a 40-year-old woman with a 20-year-old girl — walked very close behind me, as I was walking very fast, and tried opening a small shoulder bag,” said Greg Moore from the US. 
Another reader said that they “watched a group of girls working the crowd at the Christmas markets.”
The beautiful southern French city of Nice was also highlighted by several readers as a place where it is wise to keep a close eye on your belongings. 
One reader noted that there are “pickpockets in abundance” and that the city in general “is horrible for pickpocketing”. 
“My credit and debit cards were stolen and used when we visited there a few years ago,” they said. 
Lyon, the capital city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is very popular with tourists who are drawn to the city for its architecture, culture – and of course the world famous cuisine. 
But while it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by beautiful surroundings, Lyon was also highlighted by readers as a place to be cautious. 
Linda Martz, who has lived in the city for three years, told us that a pickpocket stole her wallet while she boarded a train. 
And another reader Sandra Beard told us that drivers should be particularly careful due to “scam artists” targeting people with cars.      
There are “scam artists who “help” you at parking ticket machines while they palm (and take) your credit card (and tells you the machine took your card),” she said.
“They have your PIN after looking over your shoulder,” she said, adding that when this happened to her the man “withdrew €5,000 from three banks before we froze our account (within 10 mins).”
Photo: AFP
It might not be so surprising that the resort town of Cannes on the French Riviera, which has a reputation as a bit of a playground for the rich, was also on readers' lists, with one saying that his brother was pickpocketed as he stepped onto a train at Cannes train station. 
Meanwhile reader Leslie White, who lives in Paris, said she and her husband were “hit with the 'bird poop scam'” while strolling in the grounds of the Domaine de Chantilly in northern France. 
“A plop of green goop landed on my head. A helpful couple walking behind us helped to clean us off with disposable wipes. My husband somehow had some on him too. They also cleaned out his wallet and of course it was they who had thrown the 'poop' at me in the first place. We didn’t figure it out until the next day,” she said. 
Other readers mentioned Tours train station and tram stop, the market in Arles – where reader Sue Byford said her gold necklace was snatched from her neck – and Disneyland, where one person told us they had their new phone stolen, as specific places where pickpockets operate.  
Police around France are aware of the high levels of pickpocketing in certain cities and have offered advice on how to avoid becoming a target, including avoiding the “temptation to make valuables, such as expensive handbags and jewellery, too visible or easy to take”. 
They have also advised caution when sitting on the terrasse of a bar or café. 
It's important to be “very vigilant, do not leave a wallet or phone on a table, in front of everyone” or leave your valuables in your jacket if you leave it slung over a chair,” the Rouen police previously told the French press. 
Our readers also had some suggestions of their own, including using zip ties on bags and neck pouches for credit cards and your phone. 
One reader said they take the extra precaution of putting mini-locks on all the zippers on their backpack. 
Two readers pointed out that unfortunately it is “necessary to be wary of friendly people”.
“Any distraction is an opportunity,” said one.