Posted on by Peter Editor

"Non, je ne regrette rien" - Learning French With a Song...

Edith Piaf sings" "Non, je ne regrette rien..." Our June 2013 entry about the Spanish song "La Paloma" has been one of our most read blogs for several months now.

Here is the part of our November 2012 blog again, which had suggested Edith Piaf's famous "Non, je ne regrette rien" as a wonderful song to learn and practice French with.

Listening to foreign songs is an excellent way to memorize key phrases and expressions – and having fun doing it. Find a song you like and binge listen. Sometimes, you may even start humming and repeating the refrains without exactly knowing the meaning.

In an earlier blog post - 6 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language - we had suggested listening to songs as tip #4, as listening to music and songs can also fuel your enthusiasm for learning a new language. Lifehacker also has several posts about music and lyrics training for learning a foreign language.

Non, je ne regrette rien

Many may remember Edith Piaf's famous song: “Non, je ne regrette rien.” You can hear her on this YouTube clip. English translations of the song, (even if they are not always correct) are easy to find, e.g. here. It's no mystery why many people make listening to foreign songs part of their language learning practice.

Why songs Works So Well

Many songs have a refrain. The repetition of the refrain, especially with an “ear-worm” melody, anchors key words in your memory.

Easy grammar. Key constructions become obvious and you can remember them readily. For example, the phrase “je ne regrette rien” makes it easy to see how negations are constructed in French: ne...rien or ne...pas, or to pick up on the (neither-nor) construction.

Idiomatic phrases. From song lyrics such as “je n'ai plus besoin d'eux” (I don't need them anymore), you can derive related key phrases such as “j'ai besoin” or “je n'ai pas besoin.”

New vocabulary. And, you may learn some new vocabulary that your typical language course may lack, e.g. “balayé” (swept, “broomed” away), “chagrins” (sorrows), “je me fous” (I don't care).

Exaggerated sounds. Moreover, songs exaggerate and stress the sounds of some words and thus make them easier to understand and imitate.

Pronunciation. Also pay particular attention how Edith Piaf pronounces the "r". The French "r" is not an easy sound for foreigners and has to be practiced!

While Edith Piaf's "Non je regrette rien" may be particularly memorable and instructional, there are many other French songs and lyrics you can find on the Internet. For example Joe Dassin's song "Si tu n'existais pas..." is another favorite of ours for learning French with a song and the topic of this post.