top of page

Michelle ma belle.... (French and English languages in songs)

'Michelle ma belle ...sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble!' Are you singing along already?!

The recent passing of Jane Birkin reminded us all of the great musical love affair between the English and the French. She was even mentioned by Emmanuel Macron, the French president.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president's tweet following the death of Jane Birkin
Tweet re Jane Birkin from Emmanuel Macron

"Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon.

A complete artist, her voice was as sweet as her engagements were fiery.

She bequeaths us tunes and images that will never leave us."

Music has always been a bridge between cultures and especially when language creates a barrier, music is there to bring it crashing down, uniting us in song or melody.

The 1960s and '70s were a time when artists were experimenting with incorporating different languages and cultural influences into their music. During this period, French pop music and chanson in particular, were becoming popular in many countries, including America and the United Kingdom. English-speaking artists were inspired to incorporate French lyrics into their songs as a way of paying homage to the French chanson tradition or to create a unique and sophisticated sound. You probably were singing along to more French lyrics than you realised... do you recognise these songs?

(Click on the image to watch the video)

The Beatles - Michelle

Blondie - Sunday Girl

The Police - Hungry for you!

In recent decades, the trend of incorporating French lyrics into pop songs has decreased, but it continues to be a part of the musical landscape, and some contemporary pop artists continue to experiment with using multiple languages in their music. Here are two of our favourites.

Christine and the Queens - Tilted

Willow Star - Raison d'être

Do you agree that mixing languages adds depth to music?

What are your favourite tracks above? And what would you like to add to the list?

Music and singing is an important part of our Les Puces French classes for kids. Learning languages through music and song can be more effective and enjoyable for some people for several reasons:

Repetition and rhythm: Songs often have repetitive lyrics and a consistent rhythm, which aids in reinforcing language patterns and structures. Repetition helps learners internalise vocabulary and grammar more effectively.

Pronunciation practice: Listening to songs allows learners to practice pronunciation and intonation in a natural and enjoyable way. Singing along helps develop speaking skills.

Emotional connection: Music and songs evoke emotions, and learning through emotions can help enhance memory and retention. When you associate language with emotions, it becomes more memorable and meaningful.

Contextual learning: Songs often tell stories and convey emotions, providing learners with real-life context for language usage, cultural insights, and idiomatic expressions.

Multi-sensory experience: Music engages multiple senses, such as hearing and rhythm. This multi-sensory experience can help create strong neural connections and enhance language learning.

Motivation: Music can be motivating and enjoyable, reducing feelings of boredom or frustration often associated with traditional language learning methods.

Cultural exposure: Songs introduce learners to different cultures and their languages, promoting cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Overall, learning languages through music and song offers a dynamic and engaging approach that can make the language learning process more effective, enjoyable, and memorable for many individuals.

If you are looking for fun French lessons for kids then consider the Les Puces method which can be accessed online and which blends English and French languages; uses song and dance alongside projects, worksheets, stories and videos.... it's fun!

11 views0 comments


bottom of page