Watching French shows on TV and YouTube is a great way to immerse yourself in the language and improve listening comprehension.
It’s a good, productive downtime activity to help boost what you’ve learned in your French courses.
If you’re a beginner, I advise you to look to French cartoons for level-appropriate content.
Since cartoons are generally aimed at children, the dialogue is often much simpler to understand.
I’ve covered the best (in my opinion) seven French cartoons to help you learn (all are easy to find on YouTube).
Best cartoons to help you learn French
Based on the famous Asterix comics created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, the cartoons of the same name are well-known and loved across the globe.
The comics are available in 111 different languages, and the cartoons are entertaining and educational.
Astérix follows the adventures of Astérix and Obelix, (two friends and warriors who belong to the Gaul tribe), as they travel to a range of countries around the world.
As you watch each episode, you’ll therefore learn a huge range of French vocabulary.
In the cartoon film version, for instance, some of the prepositions you’ll notice are après, dans and avec.
And, as well as the contractions of various pronouns and verbs, you will also pick up on key verbs such as aller in its many conjugated forms.
Les Aventures de Tintin
Based on the Tintin comics, written by Georgés Remi (Hergé), some episodes reflect the political climate that Georgés Remi found himself caught up in — namely, the occupation of Belgium by Nazi Germany.
This led to beloved protagonist, Tintin, to become an explorer instead of a reporter.
And as he explores a range of continents and countries, you’ll love learning about other places in the world as well — all in French!
As this world-famous French cartoon follows the adventures Belgian reporter Tintin and his dog, you’ll learn plenty of French phrases and new words.
In one of the very first episodes of Tintin, for instance you’ll be able to pick up on big numbers such as 3 millions in French.
The fact that you can easily follow what is happening in each episode makes learning French fun.
It’s ideal for intermediate level learners and, with captions, an upper beginner level student will be able to follow the story as well.
The Babar French cartoon series has been translated into over 30 different languages, but it was originally broadcast in French.
It is a loveable series that is based on the books of Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff.
Babar tells the story of an elephant that learns about the lives of human beings after seeing his mother be killed.
You’ll learn the crucial verb être, which means ‘to be’ in English. And in the second episode, through the antics of the protagonist Babar, you will also pick up on the difference between the formal vous and the informal tu.
You might have heard of this incredibly popular French-Canadian cartoon that has charmed young children all around the world.
Madeline first appeared on screen in 1988. Based on the children’s books of the same name, which were written by Ludwig Bemelmans, the cartoons follow the many quandaries that young Madeline finds herself in at her Paris boarding school.
You’ll learn a range of basic French vocabulary from watching Madeline.
By following the subtitles of this entertaining French cartoon not only will you also learn to recognise some French numbers, you will even learn to how to write the time in French.
We recommend it because it’s a fun and engaging cartoon series that features a French narrator who provides context to each scene.
This will help you to follow what is happening throughout the story.
This fairly recent educational French cartoon series was adapted from the books written by Hélène Desputeaux.
It follows the adventures of Caillou — an infant who spends his time with his mum, dad and sister Rosie. Caillou’s actual name translates to English as pebble.
Just by watching Caillou, you’ll notice the difference between masculine and feminine articles and how they should be modified to complement certain nouns such as les enfants (the infants).
You will also learn to recognise cognates when Caillou makes some cookies, such as biscuits, and verbs conjugated in the past tense, such as fait (which means ‘made’).
As the episodes continue, you’ll even start to notice how to construct sentences in the negative.
The French cartoon Manon is a delightful animated series that is based on the books of Gerard Moncomble and Nadine Rouviere.
The cartoon tells the story of the adventures of Manon, who lives on a farm with animals.
It is a fairly recent series that was first broadcast in 2007.
Manon features a selection of French vocabulary related to the earth, the farmland and nature, such as terre (earth) and soleil (sun).
It’s a fun way to boost your French vocabulary and learn phrases that you might not have heard used frequently.
You’ll also augment your knowledge of basic French verbs such as savoir ‘to know’ (in relation to knowledge and facts, as opposed to connaítre, which relates to people and places).
Les Malheurs de Sophie
Based on the book written by Countess of Ségur, Les Malheurs de Sophie focuses on the antics and jaunts of the protagonist, Sophie.
The French cartoons are set in the French countryside, in a castle, as are the books.
As Sophie gets into arguments and predicaments with her cousin, Paul, you’ll learn and pick up on various important French verbs.
From demander (to ask), to laisser (which means to let), watching this cartoon series is both entertaining and educational!
Boost your listening comprehension with French cartoons
There’s plenty to learn from watching French cartoons!
Activate the subtitles and set the speed to 0.75x.
Cartoons are generally aimed at children, but you’ll understand a lot more with a little help from the written dialogues if it’s available.
So, improve your French with the help of some French cartoons.
Know of any other French cartoons you’d add to this list?
Share them below!