4 fabulous Ted Talks to inspire French learners

Author: Nicole

TED talks serve to inspire and to educate people- but they’re also a fantastic way to learn some French- 4 French TED talks you should check out.

YouTube has become a gold mine for French language resources.
Videos on French grammar? Check.
Videos on how to sound more French? Check.
Videos on how to make learning the subjunctive easier? Check. 
Basically, you can find just about anything French related on there. 

Lately, I have been exploring the world of TED talks on YouTube in French – and it turns out they can be an interesting and useful tool to supplement your French learning!

What Are TED Talks?

TED talks are videos (usually under 20 minutes) of speakers presenting powerful, well-informed ideas or concepts. They can also discuss passions and inspirational life stories and successes. 

After I finish watching a TED talk I usually feel hopeful for humanity. Some of the stories are so inspiring that I’m left with a tear or two in my eye (I’m not even ashamed to say that!) 

There is something so great about watching some talk passionately about something they love – or having overcome some tough obstacles… Anyway, back to French learning. 

Why watch TED Talks in French?

There are many benefits to watching TED talks in the French language. One of the best aspects is that the speakers are actually really good at speaking. This means they articulate ideas easily and with clarity (making the French a bit easier to understand). Most French TED talks come with subtitles meaning that you can follow the audio with the written transcript. 

TED talks can be about so many different topics-  this means you will naturally be exposed to new vocabulary you would probably never come across in French textbooks. Also, if you struggle with watching movies and series in French because they’re loaded with French idioms and sayings you’re just not that familiar with yet, TED talks do tend to have less of these (so you might understand more). 

Lastly, you will be gaining valuable life knowledge and tips (in another language). So, it’s a win- win scenario!

Depending on your level of French (follow the link to take French Today free audio placement test), you may or may not want to switch the subtitles on in the videos. Don’t feel pressured to understand every single word of French. Remember, it is a learning process. Maybe you want to watch the talks once without the subtitles, and then with the subtitles on the second time round. It really is up to you. 

If you are a beginner, don’t feel surprised if you don’t understand much at all- though you can still use the videos to get used to some French sounds. (You may actually want to begin your French journey with Camille’s French audiobook).

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Today I’m going to show you my 4 favorite TED talks in French on YouTube.
Let’s take a look:

1 – Rien ne nous arrive par hasard (Nothing happens to us by chance)

What happens when a woman who has been a perfectionist with a do-it-all-herself attitude her whole life finds out she is now paraplegic after an unsuccessful spine surgery? Instead of letting life defeat her, she turns her pain into power. She finally decides to make her dreams come true, no matter the circumstances. 

This talk left me with goosebumps. She is a fantastic, clear speaker and I love the way the French is so easy to follow.

You can accompany this talk with the subtitles in English and in French.

Quote that stood out from this TED talk:
“Parce que ma vie, elle a été broyée.
D’actrice de ma vie, j’étais devenue spectatrice
d’indépendante, dépendante;
d’hyperactive Wonderwoman, même pas capable de lire ou d’écrire.”

2 – J’habite dans une grosse dame (I live inside a fat lady) 

In this TED talk, an oversized lady (Caroline) debunks the classic stereotypes people make about “fat people” (by the way, here is a link to an article where Camille explains how to translate fat in French).

Is it really true that fat people are big because they eat too much, or does it go a bit deeper than that? This talk will really make you think about how judgmental human beings can be. I find it really easy to empathize with this speaker.

You have the option of both French and English subtitles in this clip. She does speak pretty clearly so that should help your understanding. 

Quote that stood out from this TED talk:
“On mange avec ses émotions, on ne doit pas manger ses émotions.”

3 – La France, pays de l’égalité? (France, country of equality?) 

The speaker of this TED talk is a lady who grew up in Iran and was forced to wear the veil as a child (something she did not agree with). Listen to her speech on gender stereotypes and how she believes we can achieve gender equality for women.

The lady (Abnousse) speaks quite rapidly so this will be a test for your French understanding, and better suited for advanced French speakers. The subtitles come in French.
Quote that stood out from this TED talk:
“Une femme ne vaut pas plus qu’un homme. Elle vaut autant.”

4 – Se libérer du regard des autres en 5 minutes (Free yourself from the gaze of others in 5 minutes)

Have you ever struggled with poor self esteem or worried about what others think of you? This video is for you. This inspiring young speaker was afraid to even lift his hand in class whilst at school, and is now delivering speeches to audiences of over 1000 people. 

He offers 3 useful pieces of advice he learnt on his journey. He’s also pretty funny. Note that he is a very rapid speaker so I recommend using the subtitles whilst watching. You can have them in both English and French.

Quote that stood out from this TED talk:
“L’entraînement rend obsolète les critiques.”
“La critique est inévitable”.

If you want to look for some more TED talks in French, you can simply go to YouTube and in the search bar type in: “TEDx” followed by a French keyword (a topic you are interested in). For example: “TEDx Amour.”

There are thousands of talks on so many different subjects! Let us know if you have any of your own favorites.

Author: Nicole


I'm a language tutor and freelance writer from London. I have always been interested in all things language and culture related, so I studied French and Portuguese at University. I spent half of my year abroad in Paris which was amazing! Now I'm spreading my love for languages through writing!

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