French Pronunciation: The Ultimate Guide
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spoken in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d’oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France’s past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Let's look at a few ways to master the French Pronunciation
Ask any student their biggest struggle in learning French and you’re guaranteed to hear one thing – pronunciation.
Pronunciation is one of the hardest aspects of learning any foreign language. As babies, our minds are very receptive to learning how to identify and reproduce the numerous sounds contained in a language.
This ability diminishes early in childhood, making it more challenging for second language learners to learn how to accurately pronounce sounds that are not present in their native tongue.
Native English speakers studying French usually have a harder time learning to pronounce the nasal vowels and French “r”. French presents the additional challenge that a word’s pronunciation typically does not match its spelling.
There are many silent letters in French, particularly those at the end of the word. A word that looks long on paper may only be a single syllable when pronounced.
When you are first starting to learn French, this makes it challenging to know exactly how to say a word that you see.
This is made even more difficult by liaisons, where these normally silent consonants are suddenly pronounced when followed by a word starting with a vowel.
To easily improve your French pronunciation online, check out the online classes that are led by live French instructors at TakeLessons Live. Here is a quick overview of French pronunciation done by a live instructor in a group class. Keep reading for even more helpful online resources!
Improving Your French Pronunciation Online
- Do not get discouraged – although French pronunciation can seem almost impossible to a beginner, it is a skill that can be mastered with time and effort.
- With practice, French pronunciation will become easier. All you need to do is devote at least a few minutes each day to practising speaking in French and improving your pronunciation. Before long, you will be surprised at how natural and easy saying things in French feels.
- These French pronunciation guides are a great way to learn proper French pronunciation.
- They also make great resources to reference when you have a question or want to review later.
- The French Alphabet: Every French learner has to start somewhere. The alphabet is the perfect place to start. This will serve as the foundation for everything else you will learn during your time studying French.
- This infographic contains the sound made by each letter. Time to start practicing your “ah, bay, say”.
- International Phonetic Alphabet: One of the most useful things that any language learner should do, regardless of what language they are studying, is learning how to read the International Phonetic Alphabet (also known as the IPA).
- Originally developed by a group of French teachers in the late 1880’s, the International Phonetic Alphabet was created so that anyone could sound out how a word should be pronounced, regardless of what language they speak.
- IPA is included in almost any dictionary. By learning how to read the IPA, when you look up unfamiliar French words in the dictionary, you will easily be able to determine exactly how they are pronounced.
- French Phonetic Transcription Converter: Wondering how to pronounce a word, phrase, or block of French text? Copy and paste it into this phonetic converter, and you will be able to see the IPA symbols for each word.
- French Pronunciation by FSL Homework Toolbox: This guide covers every letter of the French alphabet, as well as accented letters and digraphs (two letters that make a unique sound when used together).
- The chart lists the equivalent English sound (or their closest approximation for sounds that are not present in English) and an English word that uses this sound. It also provides several French words that contain this sound as an example.
- Spell and Sound Pronunciation Guides: This website has created a wealth of pronunciation guides for French students to reference. These guides are quick and easy to use. There is at least one guide available for almost every letter of the French alphabet.
- Liaisons: This guide by About.com explains the rules concerning the French liaison. You will learn when you must use it and how it should sound when doing so.
- French Pronunciations You Won’t Hear in School: Speakers of any language tend to shorten things when they are speaking without even realizing it.
- For example, a speaker of English may say “doncha” instead of clearly annunciating “don’t you.”
- This guide explains some of these common shortcuts taken by French speakers. Learning these abbreviated forms will help you sound more like a native while also improving your listening comprehension.
- French Pronunciation Guide by Talk in French: This pronunciation guide provides explanations of almost every aspect concerning French pronunciation, including nasal vowels, accents, stress, and more.
- Videos are included throughout the guide to model and further expand upon the topics discussed.
French is a most beautiful language. It’s also called the language of love! If there is a language that draws unanimous worldwide consent regarding its beauty, it is French. According to several informal online surveys, there seems to be a general infatuation for spoken French all over the world. French has been described as smooth, flowing, elegant and aesthetically pleasing.
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