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Learning French With A Wolf Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Music, Vocabulary

A catchy song is a good way to make learning a language feel more like a fun time and less like les devoirs (homework).

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

There are many great chansons françaises (French songs) that get stuck in my head and have helped me learn le vocabulaire and la grammaire. Et si on chantait (and if we sang) the comedic song by Oldelaf et Monsieur D is a great example of a song that helps reinforce which tense to use when asking hypothetical questions.

As a beginner sometimes regular songs can be too hard to understand. La musique (music) can often involve fast lyrics, slang, accents, and many of the words can simply be difficult to remember.

Cependant (however), there is a fun way to get around the obstacle of being a beginner, but still using la musique to help you learn.

Les comptines
Children’s songs

It may sound ridiculous, but the way les comptines are structured is perfect for beginners. They are designed to be catchy and repetitive to help les enfants (children) learn basic vocabulary and grammar, so why not take advantage of that when learning une nouvelle langue (a new language)!

An example of une chanson pour les enfants (a children’s song) that quickly got stuck in my head and helped me learn new vocabulary is a short piece of music about un loup (a wolf). La chanson (the song) brings up thoughts of les contes des fées (fairy tales) and silly children’s games :

Promenons-nous dans les bois
Let’s take a walk in the woods

La chanson follows a simple pattern, making it very easy to follow even if you just started learning le français. Les paroles (the lyrics) are repeated several times telling the story of a scary loup.

Promenons-nous dans les bois
Pendant que le loup n’y est pas

Si le loup y était
Il nous mangerait

Mais comme il n’y est pas
Il nous mangera pas

Loup y es-tu ? Que fais-tu ? Entends-tu ?

Let’s take a walk in the woods
While the wolf is not there

If the wolf was there
He would eat us

But since he is not there
He will not eat us

Wolf are you there? What are you doing? Can you hear?

At the end of each couplet (verse), le loup chimes in letting everyone know how close he is to being ready. Par exemple (for example) :

Je mets ma culotte…
Je mets ma chemise…
Je mets mes chaussettes…

I’m putting on my underpants…
I’m putting on my shirt…
I’m putting on my socks…

Take a listen to la comptine and see for yourself if le loup ever finishes putting on his outfit! After just one listen, I’m sure you’ll start singing it to yourself and practicing French without realizing it.

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Lydia:

    Great post! C’était fantastique. I’ll have to listen to the song. I find that les chansons are a great way to learn French.

  2. Roohi Mitra:

    I’ve just started learning French and your blog is so interesting!