My children are in a French Immersion school, which means eighty-some-percent of the day they are taught in French. My own French is not exactly stellar. I mean I have the basic “I learned this in grade school because I am Canadian” level of French, which my kids, who are in 1st and 4th grade, are already surpassing.
Yesterday I was doing the dishes with my seven year old, Gigi, and she was excitedly telling me about watching Paw Patrol at school en francais. We were drying dishes, and she was dancing and jumping up and down with excitement as she told me about La Pat’ Patrouille. She also told me they watched Sid the Science Kid for science class today, and yes, of course, it was in French.
I told her that I was pretty sure we could watch Paw Patrol and other shows in French, right here at home, on Netflix. I had to quickly grab the plate she was drying out of her hand before she dropped it. Her eyes grew to the size of saucers as she gaped at me in disbelief.
Since dinner wasn’t ready yet, and we were both due for a break from dishwashing duties, I offered to see if I could find some French cartoons on Netflix right then. We settled on Sid the Science Kid. It took me a bit of fiddling to remember how to change the language on a show. Sid wasn’t available in French. Oh but wait… there was also a Sid the Science Kid Movie listed, and that one had French as an option.
Gigi, of course, insisted I watch with her. We snuggled down with my iPad mini to watch twenty minutes of the movie. My thought process was along the lines of — “Oh my goodness, they talk so fast. Do people talk that fast in English? Did he just say something about outer space? Wow, I don’t have a clue what is going on.” I couldn’t follow along quickly enough. I caught maybe one word in ten. My daughter, however, was giggling while watching it, so I have to assume she understood at least some of what was happening.
Big sister, Grace, walked in and asked what we were watching. She told me she didn’t want to join in because she couldn’t understand every word. This made me feel a little better about my own bewilderment, but it also made me pause and think… Wait a sec kiddo, you’re in 4th grade at a French Immersion school, you get decent grades, and you don’t want to watch the cartoon because you don’t understand everything they are saying? Nope, nope, nope. Not cool.
I took Grace aside and had a conversation with her about understanding things “in context”, about learning new vocabulary, and about how enjoying shows en francais was one of the ways she would get better with her understanding of French. I mean obviously, the school thinks there is some value to having kids watch French language cartoons since they show French television frequently.
And that’s why last night I made a vow that no matter how much it may confuse or bore the heck out of me, part of our streaming from now on will be in French. I even made a list of shows, ones that my kids enjoy, and that Netflix has the French language option available for.
The first thing I noticed is that Paw Patrol is only available in English. However, Magic School Bus is available in French and so is Voltron: Legendary Defenders and that new Julie Andrews show Julie’s Greenroom. In fact, I quickly noticed that all of the Netflix Exclusive shows (like Voltron, Troll Hunters, Julie’s Greenroom, A Series of Unfortunate Events, etc) are available in multiple languages. Which I guess makes sense because Netflix is probably aiming to develop content to be shared throughout their global market.
To check if a show is available in French you need to pick out an episode/movie and let it start playing. Then look for the language option icon. It looks like this:
You click on that icon and a list of available languages will pop up. It will show options for both audio and subtitles. Note, you may need to wait a few seconds to let the episode load. The language icon will be greyed out until things are loaded and ready to go.
The picture above is what it looks like on my iPad. The one just above that, where it shows Dragons Race to the Edge, is what it looks like on a desktop PC. If you’re on a different platform (say XBox or Apple TV) the layout may be a bit different, but the idea is the same, look for that icon and click on it to see your language options.
After clicking through cartoon after cartoon to see if they offered French language as an option, this is the list I came up with:
Children’s TV Shows available in French on Netflix:
- All Hail King Julien, Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4
- Animal Mechanicals, Seasons 1 and 2
- A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 1
- Beats Bugs, Seasons 1 and 2 (the Beatles tunes covers are sung English, the spoken parts are in French)
- Busytown Mysteries, Series 1
- Bo on the Go, Season 1
- Care Bears & Cousins, Seasons 1 and 2 (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Clifford’s Puppy Days, Seasons 1 and 2
- Clifford the Big Red Dog, Seasons 1 and 2
- Digimon Fusion, Seasons 1 and 2
- Dinotrux Seasons 1, 2, and 3
- Dragons: Race to the Edge, Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4
- Julie’s Greenroom, Season 1
- Kung Fu Panda Awesome Secrets Collection, Volume 1
- Luna Petunia, Season 1
- Magic School Bus, Season 1
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Seasons 3, 4, 5, 6 (but not seasons 1 or 2)
- Octonauts, Season 1
- Paw Patrol, Season 2 (but not seasons 1 or 3)
- Peg + Cat, Season 1
- Peppa the Pig, Seasons 1 and 2
- Pokemon: Indigo League, Season 1
- Pokemon: XY, Seasons 1 and 2
- Super Why, Season 1
- Teen Titans, Seasons 1, 2 and 3
- The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4
- The Furchester Hotel, Seasons 1 and 2 (BBC Sesame Street spin-off)
- The Long, Long, Holiday, Season 1 (originally in French)
- Transformers Prime, Seasons 1, 2 and 3
- Transformers: Rescue Bots, Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4
- Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Seasons 1, 2, and 3
- Trollhunters, Season 1
- Turbo Fast, Seasons 1, 2, and 3
- Voltron: Legendary Defender, Seasons 1 and 2
- Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production, Season 1
Family Movies and Feature Length Children’s Shows in French:
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Brother Bear (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Chicken Run
- Disney Nature: Growing Up Wild (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Dragons: Dawn of the Dragon Racers
- Happy Feet (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- How to Train Your Dragon (the movie)
- How to Train Your Dragon: Legends
- Kung Fu Panda
- Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Lilo & Stitch (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Marvel’s Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Marvel Super Heros Hero Adventures: Frost Fight! (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Megamind (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- My Little Pony: Legend of Everfree
- My Little Pony: Rainbow Rocks
- Pete’s Dragon (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Pokemon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction
- Pokemon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages
- Shrek 2
- Shrek the Third (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Shrek Forever After (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Sid the Science Kid The Movie
- Tangled (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Tellur Aliens
- The Aristocats (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- The BFG (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- The Clone Wars (the animated movie, not the series) (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- The Fox and the Hound
- The Prince of Egypt
- The Princess and the Frog (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- The Rescuers (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- The Road to El Dorado
- Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Never Beast
- Tron: Legacy (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Turbo (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- Zootopia (specifically says “Canadian French”)
- Le Bon Dinosaur
- Sens Dessous Dessous
- Trouver Doris
So it turns out Paw Patrol IS available in French, but only Season 2, not Season 1 or 3. And the only reason I discovered this is because I had a very persistent first grader at my elbow, singing the Paw Patrol theme song en francais and insisting it MUST be on there. This discovery led to me going back and checking each season individually for some of her other favourite shows and we found that later seasons of My Little Pony ARE available in French. So if there’s a particular show your little one is in love with, it’s worth checking each season individually.
Here’s another trick. Finding Dory doesn’t have French audio as an option, but if you search under Trouver Doris the film is there in French (specifically says “Canadian French”). Same goes for Zootopia, Le Bon Dinosaur and Sens Dessous Dessous (aka Inside Out).
I am sure there are many more French language kids’ shows streaming on Netflix, this is just a partial list, based mainly on which shows my kids, who are ages 7 and 9, enjoy watching. I am also aware that not all translations are created equal (and for the most part I wouldn’t recognise a bad French translation if it bopped me over the head). Still, encouraging my girls to consume media in French at home certainly can’t hurt, and I am hoping it will help with their vocabulary and pronunciation.
Of course, Netflix is constantly adding new shows, and removing old ones, so if you are reading this post a few weeks, or months, after I published it, the list may no longer be accurate. However, the same principles will still apply. There are tons of kids’ shows available to stream in French on Netflix, and you can find them by clicking through and checking the language options (and remember to check different seasons of the same show).
What about you folks? Which Netflix cartoons are tops in your house? Do you ever stream in French? Which is your favourite French language show for kids?
|Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, and as such, they ask that I share my thoughts on what is streaming on Netflix. As always my words and opinions are my own.|