A lot of people want to learn how to speak French but most of them find the pronunciation really difficult. Silent letters, tons of rules, exceptions… Well, a lot of it is not really true! French pronunciation is not harder than other languages to learn, there are some weird pronunciation rules in English too! So, don’t let these rumors keep you from learning this beautiful language. In this post we will tell you all you need to know to have a perfect French accent:

  • Why is it important to have a good pronunciation
  • Our tips to have a perfect pronunciation
  • Phonetic symbols of French consonants
  • Phonetic symbols of French vowels and diphthongs
  • Where can I find French pronunciation exercises?
  • Learn French online with our General Français course!

Now without further ado, let’s get into it!

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Why is it important to have good pronunciation in French

Now that you have understood why it’s important to study French, it’s time to focus on pronunciation.

One of the biggest setbacks about learning French might be its pronunciation. There are several reasons for it: sounds that are not found in English, weird rules, phonetic pronunciation… These can be hard for a lot of learners. But remember that French (just like any other language!) is different from English. It doesn’t mean it is harder.

Pronunciation is the core of any oral language. You can know grammar, vocabulary and how to write French perfectly, but if you don’t know how to pronounce words it will be very hard for you to read perfectly in French, to practise and communicate. Communication is very important, it is the reason languages exist. Without communication, there’s no language. So, learning a language’s pronunciation rules is very important.

Some words have different meanings depending on how you pronounce them. Some others have symbols that you should know how to read and that modify the pronunciation of the word (such as accents and the cédille (ç) for example). The more you know about French’s trickiest rules and features, the better you will be at oral speaking. Who never dreamed about sounding like a native?

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Our tips to have perfect pronunciation in French

Listen to native speakers

Those who speak French with the best accent are obviously French speaking people. If you want to become like them, you need to train with the best resources to learn French pronunciation. Try for exemple to listen to songs or watch TV series and movies in French in order to hear a perfect French accent. The only way to learn proper pronunciation is to learn it from natives. You can also try to find audio books or podcasts in French. (there are plenty of them) Be beware, there are also many different accents (as in, French from different regions). Just like there is an American accent and a British accent, make sure you stay consistent when you choose a region; avoid mixing French from France and French from Quebec, because they both have a huge difference in terms of pronunciation and this will just confuse you. Especially if you’re a beginner.

Listen to yourself

The best way to improve your own accent is to listen to yourself. Trust us, this is a miracle method! Record yourself reading a sentence or a paragraph out loud then listen to it. Try to pick something that you can mimic at first (a line from a movie or an audio book, a song, something from a video or a podcast), this will ensure that you have the proper pronunciation right away. Write down what you think is wrong and record yourself again with these corrections in mind. Practicing this regularly, even for 5 or 10 minutes a day is better than nothing and will help you improve your pronunciation tremendously.

Focus on accent and intonation

Next, focus on accents and intonation by reading/listening to audio books or watching TV. This will give you a perfect model for French intonation that you can imitate later. Another tip: speak with a Fake French accent. Weird? Not as much as you would think! This will make you exaggerate the way you pronounce and help you get a grasp on French’s toughest sounds. It is easy to do as a beginner and will give you a nice pronunciation eventually (if you do other exercises as well of course). Give it a try!

Learn the “French R”, nasal letters and silent letters

Ah, the infamous French R! This letter is often French learner’s nemesis and is very hard to aquire for non-natives. This sound comes from the throat, just like a German “ach” or a Spanish jota “J” sound. Find tongue twisters to practice this sound: Un rare reptile ressemble à son rival rose. // Ce rat répugnant a horreur de la réglisse rouge. There are other sounds that can be quite tricky in French. Nasal letters are another great example. Nasal sounds are produced by passing air through the nose and mouth. Try humming the letter M (mmmmm) or N (nnnnn) and you will see what we’re talking about. They’re very important and frequent sounds of French too. Silent letters are another great problem for learners. A “e” that becomes silent at the end of a word, the H, consonants that are dropped.. These rules can be a bit destabilizing for new learners. The quicker you learn how to recognize and pronounce words with silent letters, the better your accent will become.

Speak to native French people

Listening to native people is not enough: find native speakers to practice with; if you can go online you will find tons of websites and programs to link you with strangers from all around the world. This will help you connect with French speaking people, wherever they are. Maybe you will even make friends! If you would rather find and talk to someone in real life, go to your local schools, universities, libraries or community centers: they often organise events with learners and native speakers. These kinds of events host a lot of pub quizzes, conversations and many other international exchange events.

Phonetic symbols of French consonants

Before you move on to pronouncing whole words, it’s a good idea to focus on pronouncing the alphabet in French.

Well, let’s start with the consonants!

Phonetic symbolpronunciationexample in a French wordtranslation
bbal/bal/
ddent/dɑ̃/
feffoire/fwaʀ/
gzjégomme/gɔm/
kkaclé/kle/
lellien/ljɛ̃/
memmer/mɛʀ/
nennage/naʒ/
ɲgnegnon/ɲɔ̃/
ŋengdancing/dɑ̃siŋ/
pporte/pɔʀt/
ʀerrrire/ʀiʀ/
sesssang/sɑ̃/
ʃchchien/ʃjɛ̃/
ttrain/tʀɛ̃/
vvoile/vwal/
zzedzèbre/zɛbʀ/
ʒjejeune/ʒœn/

Phonetic symbols of French vowels and semi vowels

After consonants, let’s see the pronunciation of vowels in French.

Phonetic symbolpronunciationexample in a French wordtranslation
aahpatte/pat/
ɑâpâte/pɑt/
ɑ̃ahnclan/klɑ̃/
eé/de/
ɛèbelle/bɛl/
ɛ̃lin/lɛ̃/
ədemain/dəmɛ̃/
iihgris/gʀi/
oohgros/gʀo/
ɔôcorps/kɔr/
ɔ̃long/lɔ̃/
œleur/lœʀ/
œ̃brun/brœ̃/
øoeudeux/dø/
uoufou/fu/
yuhpur/pyʀ/

Finally, let’s take a look at semi-vowels’ pronunciation in French.

Phonetic symbolpronunciationexample in a French wordtranslation
jiefille/fij/
ɥhuuhuit/ɥit/
wuweoui/wi/

Where to find French pronunciation exercises?

Now that you’ve read a quick guide about French pronunciation and some important rules you need to know, here comes the time to put everything into practice! If you want to make sure you understand every rule and particularities, or if you want to master a perfect French accent, you have to do exercises. And pronunciation exercises all involve speaking out loud.

One of the best resources you can find is Youtube videos. On this platform, you will find a lot of awesome channels that deal with several aspects of the French language. A lot of them tackle French pronunciation too.
The awesome thing is, YouTube videos are so numerous that you can find general pronunciation exercises as well as specific aspects you want to tackle. If you’re looking to improve your French Rs, your vowels, your Hs.. there surely are videos about these topics. A lot of websites give you a bunch of activities to improve your pronunciation: The Mimic Method, Audio French, FrenchPod101, Le Point du FLE… all these websites give you access to ton of activities and audio files to listen to in order to perfectionate and improve your accent everyday.

But there’s one more method that regroups all of the good sides of learning how to improve your accent on YouTube or on websites: GlobalExam.

Get better at speaking French with Global General

If you want to master the perfect French accent quickly and efficiently then GlobalExam’s new platform is the perfect option for you. Global General is a training platform that will allow you to learn any of those languages: French, Spanish, English, German and Italian. Meant for beginners as well as intermediate level learners, Global General will help you become fluent and sound like a native in no time. Training with us will allow you to:

  • have access to tons of different resources that will help you have fun while you’re learning and stay motivated
  • detailed corrections to ensure you understand everything perfectly
  • personal trainers that will follow your progress so you can be confident in your learnings and get all the help you need.

If you want to progress at your own pace, learn a new language without feeling like you’re learning and stay motivated all the way through, then Global General is perfect for you.

What are you waiting for? Hop on with us and let’s learn French together!

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