Download PDF – How to pronounce well in French ? – Podcasts

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The French pronunciation (the liaisons, the intonation) is not so easy to have, even if you get a good knowledge to the rules. It needs more than a few hours of practice to be able to feel ok with it, maybe several months. I have never met a foreigner with a perfect French accent, it is not very usuall. If you like a lot the French language and the French culture, if you like watching French movies, if you like listening to a French song, if you like to have different resources to study, if you feel it is important for you, so I suggest you to focus on how to pronounce the language (the combinations of sounds, the intonation, the liaisons). But if what you want is to have conversations with French native speakers, the accent is not very important, the French people will be glad if you are talking to them, your accent will not be a big deal. You do not need to be like a students at the university, making the effort to memorize the rules, just read them, put them in your mind, if you forget them that is ok, times to times go back to them for a refresh time. The most important thing, the thing on what you have to focus is the ability of listening to the sound and producing it, you can produce it in a nice way only if you can hear it well. I strongly suggest you to watch videos and listen to audio courses to be able to say the words in anice way. Do not forget to take the time to repeat and repeat again. It is a very enjoyable game : practice to get good listening skills. I love doing it when I study a foreign language.

Good resources are the movies, the podcasts, listening to your favourite song, trying to catch the combinations of sounds, in conversations as well, if you have a language partner on the internet (have a look at Italki, HelloTalk to find one).

The French vowels : how to pronounce them ?

What is the difference between the letters a-à-â ?
What is the difference between the letters e-é-è-ê ?

  a    is pronounced like « ah » in English  la banane (the banana)
  à    is pronounced like « ah » in English  là-bàs (over there)
  â    is pronounced like « ah » but longer  un théâtre (a theater)
  e    When placed in the middle of a syllabe, it is pronounced like « ai » in « fair »  la mer (the sea)
  e    When placed at the end of a syllabe, it is pronounced like « er » in « her »  le (the)
  e    is silent at the end of a word  une chambre (a room)
  é    it is pronounced like « ay »  arrivé (to be arrived)
  è    it is pronounced like « ai » in « fair »  la chèvre (the goat)
  ê    it is pronounced like « ai » in « fair »  la tête (the head)
  i, y    are pronounced like « ee » in meet  ski (skiing)
  o    it is pronounced like « o » in « not »  la poste (the post office)
  ô    it is pronounced like « oh »  un hôtel (a hotel)
  u    it does not exists in English, you can do it in saying « ee » with rounded lips  une statue (a statue)
  oi    it is pronounced like « wah »  une paroie (a wall
  ou    it is pronounced like « oo »  la boue (mud)
  ai, ei    are pronounced like « e » in « let »  la Seine → this is the name of the river that crosses Paris
  au, eau    are pronounced like « oh »  un château (a boat)
  eu, oeu    are pronounced like « er » in « her »  le coeur (the heart)

The French consonnants : how to pronounce them ?

The majority of them have the same sound as when you say them in English.  

  c    it sounds like an « s » before « e » or « i »  la cendre (the ash)
la cible (the target)
  c    otherwise it sounds like the letter « k »  la casserole (the pot)
le câble (a cable)
  ç    it sounds like a « s »  une tronçonneuse (a chainsaw)
  ch    it sounds like « sh »  un chalet (a chalet)
  g    it sounds like the « s » in the word « measure », when it is placed before « e » or « i »  gentiane → this is the name of a flower
  g    otherwise it sounds like the letter « g » in « go »  un gland (a glove)
  h    we do not pronunce it  hôpital (hospital)
  j    it sounds like the letter  « s » in the word « measure »  je (I)
  qu, q    it sounds like the letter « k »  quantité (quantity)
  r    it is pronounced at the back of the throat  ronfler (snoring)
  s    it sounds like the letter « s » when it is placed at the beginning of a word  sacré (holy)
  s    it sounds like « z » when it is placed between two vowels  un oiseau (a bird)

Be aware of the fact that we do not pronounce the majority of the consonnants when they are placed at the end of nouns :
Un étang (a pond)
Un aéroport (an airport)
Les autres (the others)
Tu as une souris (you have a mouse)
Un cochon (a pig)
Tu as un lit (you have a bed)

Here are exceptions :

The exceptions are the letters C-F-L-R, when they are placed at the end of nouns, we pronounce all of them.
To remember these letters, I suggest you to use this : Clear French Language Recall
Un sac (a bag), un public (a public)
Un adjectif (an adjective)
Un archipel (an archipelago)
Un bazar (a bazaar)

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Thank you for reading this article !
Thomas 😀

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