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The right way to practice French Pronunciation

Intermediate Practice Techniques

Once you’ve covered the basics in French, it’s time to start to challenge yourself with longer and more complex phrases. Be sure to watch our video series on improving your French pronunciation through listening before we get started.

With the pronunciation feature from our intermediate program News in Slow French, you have the ability to practice your listening and speaking skills together. One of our hosts will say a sentence in French, you can listen to it and record yourself as you try to match their pronunciation. This is an excellent way to train your ear to recognizing and imitating the sounds of the French language. Gold subscribers to our program receive 6 sentences extracted from our current episode each week, but you can try one here:

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S’il veut gagner les prochaines élections, l’appui de son propre parti ne lui suffira pas.

Let’s apply the techniques we learned in the video series to sentence practice.

Click and give the sentence a listen a few times. First, focus only on the intonation, the musical sound of the phrase. Perhaps hum it to yourself a few times. Then, click the record button and say the sentence, matching its intonation as best you can. Listen back to your recording and compare it to the original sentence.

Follow the same process for each of the pronunciation layers we discussed in our video series:

Step 1: Listen to and copy the intonation.

Intonation is the “speech music” of language: high and low sounds, or tones, as well as rhythm.

Step 2: Notice and imitate the forward vowel placement.

Vowel placement refers to where you place emphasis when you create vowel sounds, in the front, center, or the back of the mouth, in particular. Vowel placement can differ widely from language to language.

Step 3: Say the sentence with the vowel sounds only.

Vowel sounds are made by adopting specific articulation of the tongue and mouth in a completely open an unobstructed way.

Step 4: Add the consonants back in.

Consonant sounds are all the rest of the language sounds. Not completely open, but obstructed in some way by the mouth or tongue.

Remember, there’s no need to force yourself. Developing proper French pronunciation happens slowly over time.