The difficulties of French pronunciation

Some say that French spelling and pronunciation is ridiculously difficult and random. While it is difficult, it is not as random as it looks. It does take some time to get used to its sounds and spellings, but they are quite a few rules that are helpful to know. I will share some tips, tricks, and rules that I have used to help my students with pronunciation.
  1. Learn the letters that are not pronounced at the end of a word
  • Vowels: e
  • Consonants: d – p – s – t
This one is often overlooked but will make a huge difference as the extra sound often changes the meaning or the grammatical function of the word!

  1. Use the phonetic alphabet, at least until you get more comfortable with French sounds (also applies to any other
language you want to learn). You can use the complete international phonetic alphabet (IPA) – here is a link: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:IPA_pronunciation_key
For our purpose, here are the sounds used in French:

  • The alphabet

A As in father Abricot

B Banane

C S as in place (+ i /e) Cerise
K as in cat (+ a/o/u) Colle

D Dinde

E JE
é As in fiancé
è /ê As in wet être

F As in flower Fleur

G G (+a/o/u)
J (+e/i) as in Garage Garage

H Silent Heure

I As in be Image

J Jouer

K Kilo

L Lit

M Maison

N Non

O O as in Hole Os

P Place

Q K as in Cat Quel

R Similar to Spanish ‘J’ Robe

S S as in school Stylo

T Table

U Not in English Rue

V Voiture

W As V Wagon

X Xylophone

Y Yeux

Z Zone

  • Quelques autres sons

Ai / ê / è As in pain Frais / fête / fièvre

Au /eau As in taupe Mauvais / beau

Ch Chaud

Eu Sounds like a long French “e” Feu

Oi Sounds like “wa” (what) Trois

Ou As in soup Nous

Ph Pharmacie

tion Sounds like “sion” Attention

ui As in we Nuit

En / an Enfant

Un / in / ain Jardin / pain

On bonjour

The last three sounds are called nasal vowels and do not exist in English. Here is a link to listen to and practice them: http://www.languageguide.org/french/grammar/pronunciation/nasal.html

  1. A few practice tips:
  • Listen, listen, listen! Listening is one of the most important key to work on your pronunciation. Listen to music, watch TV, … (It is also a fun way to practice as you get to learn some of the culture as well).
  • Observe: when you are talking with native French speakers, observe the placement of their tongue, the shape of their lips, their throat to identify the physical clues of pronunciation. (You might want to let them know beforehand!)
  • Record and listen to yourself: it is very hard to be aware of how we pronounce things. It is an uncomfortable exercise for most people but it will help you identify which sounds you have problems with
  • Practice: as always, practice makes perfect! The more you practice, the more the sounds will become natural
  • To practice listening and spelling, dictations are great exercises!

  1. Focus on communication: don’t let the fear of mispronunciation deter you from speaking! Good pronunciation comes with a lot of practice and a lot of mistakes. And it is ok! At first focus on sounds that might change the meaning of words.




14 de Setembro de 2017
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$30
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Caroline Mosser

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Flag
Francês
globe
França
time
1.102
Fala:
Francês
Nativo
,
Inglês
C2
,
Espanhol
B1
,
Alemão
B1
Bio: Caroline Mosser is an educator, translator, writer and independent scholar. She has lived and worked in both France and the United States, and is looking forward to more adventures. After earning her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of South Carolina, she has taught French as a postdoctoral fellow at Utah State University. As a graduate student, she participated in and taught for the competitive Social Advocacy and Ethical Life scholarship program at USC. Having always been fascinated by both the sciences and the humanities, she has focused her work on their connection through the study of the representations of science and technology in popular culture. A life-long learner, she enjoys sharing her knowledge through teaching and participating in various academic and cultural projects (such as translating, interpreting, and editing). In her free time, she enjoys watching science fiction movies and TV shows as well as skating and hiking to make up for her cookin...
Flag
Francês
globe
França
time
1.102
Fala:
Francês
Nativo
,
Inglês
C2
,
Espanhol
B1
,
Alemão
B1
Bio: Caroline Mosser is an educator, translator, writer and independent scholar. She has lived and worked in both France and the United States, and is looking forward to more adventures. After earning her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of South Carolina, she has taught French as a postdoctoral fellow at Utah State University. As a graduate student, she participated in and taught for the competitive Social Advocacy and Ethical Life scholarship program at USC. Having always been fascinated by both the sciences and the humanities, she has focused her work on their connection through the study of the representations of science and technology in popular culture. A life-long learner, she enjoys sharing her knowledge through teaching and participating in various academic and cultural projects (such as translating, interpreting, and editing). In her free time, she enjoys watching science fiction movies and TV shows as well as skating and hiking to make up for her cookin...
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