Whether you’re stuck indoors or out for a run, listening to a podcast can be a great distraction from today’s worries. I’m writing this post to recommend my FAVOURITE French language podcast that’s a little different. Duolingo French Podcast has been keeping me entertained and is one of the best ways to learn French and improve your French listening skills. No lessons. Just uplifting, fascinating, true stories shared in English and French.
You have probably heard of Duolingo or recognize their logo—the green owl. They create education language apps and their purpose is “free language education – no hidden fees, no premium content, just free”. They have some of the most popular language apps in the world. The French app is highly effective with fun and entertaining exercises to help you improve your language skills: grammar, pronunciation, and comprehension. I’ve used it for years and so have my friends.
Duolingo’s French Podcast
In 2019, the folks who created Duolingo came out with a weekly podcast for intermediate-level French learners to improve their comprehension. The episodes last about 30 minutes and the host, lawyer and journalist Ngofeen Mputubwele, introduces the story in English. He provides context throughout the story and as I have seen as a teacher when the context is provided, learning becomes easier.
Occasionally Ngofeen interjects translations of French words (ie. “He contacted a local nonprofit, “Roya citoyenne”, and together…..”) so you’re learning new vocabulary easily.
Both Ngofeen and the French “character” in the story are native French speakers and they are easy to understand. They also speak at just the right speed. Not too fast. Not too slow.
The best part? No grammar lessons. No exercises. And it’s free. A transcript is provided so you can double-check your understanding of the dialogue.
Some Of My Favourite French Podcast Stories
The reason I like the episodes of Duolingo French Podcast is that it’s all about great story-telling. The real-life narrations are interesting, uplifting, and hold your attention so you don’t even realize you’re learning and improving your French vocabulary and understanding. Here are some past episodes. I won’t give away everything that happens, but as you can see, the very idea of the story is enough to want more.
“Le Magician des Baguettes” (The Baguette Magician)
Mahmoud M’Seddi’s mother didn’t want her son to be a baker like his father but things didn’t turn out that way. His parents were Tunisian immigrants and they were as shocked as he was when he won a most prestigious honour at the age of 28: Grand Prize for the Best Baguette in Paris in 2018, an honour which has him delivering baguettes to the French President every day for a year. It’s a heart-warming story worth a listen. When you’re in Paris, you’ll likely want to pick up one of his baguettes.
“La Championne du Fromage” (The Cheese Champion)
Viriginie Dhorne was a Ph.D. student whose dream was to have a career in academia. But things didn’t turn out quite the way she had planned. The political science graduate who she married decided to open a shop, a type of shop she really disliked. She hated how these types of stores were cold and smelled. What happened is heartwarming and a big surprise.
“Le Surfeur Sans Limites” (Surfer Without Limits)
Eric Dargent loved surfing but one day he was attacked by a shark and lost half his leg. His story is not sad but inspiring when you learn how he recovered and what he has done with his life.
“L’Amour après le deuil” (Love after grief)
This heartwarming story begins with Raymond Silvestrini, who was involved in a tragic accident in 2015. His partner, Lucienne and 42 other passengers—many from his senior’s group— were killed in a coach bus that collided with a truck and caught fire. But there was a sweet, happy story that followed.
Learning French by podcast is a wonderful way to enrich your understanding and knowledge of the culture and broaden your vocabulary. Duolingo French Podcast also keeps you entertained with wonderful stories. It has two seasons with six episodes in Season 1 and so far eight episodes in Season 2. They can be found on these platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, and Stitcher. Have a listen and enjoy.
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