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    French Pronunciation 101 – Start to sound like a French

    By the sound of it, French language is romantic and pleasant on the ears. However, to hit the notes on the right accent there are many aspects to keep in mind. Just like English, there are concepts like silent letters emphasised syllables, tones of speaking and so on.
    This run-through of the rules will help you catch those minute aspects and nurture your French pronunciation.

    French Pronunciation 101 – Start to sound like a French
    By Michelle
    28 November 2019
    , French Pronunciation 101 – Start to sound like a French

    French Grammar French Lessons

    French Pronunciation 101 – Start to sound like a French

By the sound of it, French language is romantic and pleasant on the ears. However, to hit the notes on the right accent there are many aspects to keep in mind. Just like English, there are concepts like silent letters emphasised syllables, tones of speaking and so on. 

This run-through of the rules will help you catch those minute aspects and nurture your French pronunciation. 

But through perseverance and love, you managed to indulge in one and with the same dedication you can tame the other too. If you’ve heard native accent, you’d have realized that the French say some things differently. This mini guide will help you catch those minute aspects and nurture your French pronunciation.

1. Minimalism at its Best

Has a mime ever fascinated you? It’s time for you to become one. Through courses like ‘Mimic Method French’, learn the way that each sound can be made.

Instead of YouTubing another make-up tutorial, find videos of natives. Observe every single detail from their body language to the way their lips move while saying some words.

Repeat, mimic, repeat, mimic and make that your language motto.

2. Become Your Own Studio Artist

If a dancer can record their choreography to become self-aware of each move, then as a speaker too the best way to catch everything can be through recording yourself. Play with your insecurities because that will make you more aware. Listening to you struggle through will make you want to improve on those areas.

Going for a walk? Plug in the earphones and listen on repeat, marking areas you hesitate or sound awkward.

3. Marry Your French Sounds

There’s a reason many irregularities and exceptions exist in French. All of them originated to make it la belle langue.

Understand that it’s these liaisons that actually brings the tinge of romance that you’ve heard French to have. Even English uses ‘licence to liaisons’ where you say an apple and not ‘a apple’ so that vowel clashes sound more beautiful. Take the case of –

Nous allons à Paris en avion

If you disregard vowels, then it’ll sound like – nou aalons a Paris on aavion which isn’t anywhere appealing as the original – nou zallon a Paris onavion.

4. Music Brings Meaning to Life

Whether you’re travelling a long distance or running on the treadmill, music has always been your companion. Tiresome days and lonesome nights have found solace in a rhythm or two. Use this passion towards French music. You’d want to sing along with the singer – improving your speech and speed in one go. Even putting a song on loop won’t sound like a task.

Even best, have a karaoke night. Plug in the song, start the lyrics and get those vocals working. Before you realize, you’ll have a bunch of vocabulary residing in your mind. There are just too many perks with this activity so don’t wait up . . . sing!

Another activity you can couple with this is learning French tongue twisters. Nothing gives more pride than rapping a fast song perfectly or articulately saying – ‘She sells seashells on the seashore’ (of course, the French equivalent of that!).

5. Flex that muscle memory!

Contrary to how it may seem, written French and spoken French are worlds apart. What may be seen by the eye could be overlooked by the ear.

So, how do you solve this war?

Move on from the paper dictionary and instead get a talking one or better invest in both. Whenever you get stuck with a word, use the dictionary and repeat our loud. Sometimes even try reading out English passages but in French accent! It might sound like you’re doing stand-up comedy but believe that it’s all worth it.

6. Bonjour Monsieur, comment allez vous?

The way to mastering French is getting through a native speaker. We often shy away from having a conversation due to language barrier but unless and until you try, you’ll never cross that wall.

Technologies like italki have been specially designed to give you that moral boost. Stop dreaming about having pretend discussions and go actually have one. They might even correct you which just means more scope of improvement.

7. Rrrroll Yourrrr Rrrr’s

Your friends might have told you to cut down the exaggeration, but we say for speaking French, take it even a notch higher. Sounds like ‘r’ need to really have that trill so that you pass it off. It doesn’t have to be the perfect ‘uvular’ one but eventually with trying you’ll get there. Pick words infatuated with the letter, use any of the methods above to hear its pronunciation and attack. Do it with all kinds of sounds you think need emphasis.

Customized Pronunciation Dictionary

  • When ‘i’ is the hero, how do sidekicks – ‘d’ and ‘t’ get pronounced?

Say the word gentil. The pronunciation has more to it than what meets the ear! If you get into the analysis, there will be slight ‘s’ sound which is so subtle you hardly notice it. However, it’s still present. Similarly, with words like dieu a subtle ‘z’ sound can be heard. So, whenever you see a ‘d’ or a ‘t’ before an ‘i’, remember this rule.

  • ‘U’ Got This: Pronounce French U

No, this isn’t just ‘oo’ from English but has its own distinct sound. It’s essential that you understand the difference lest you end up in a sticky situation! First, pick a word like ‘tee’. Without moving the tongue, get your lips round or in an ‘ooh’ sound. That is what you need to be making. List down a bunch of words like jus (juice) and joue (play) and get pronouncing, mon chéri!

  • ‘re’s Invisible Cloak

At times it can get tough to say words which end in ‘re’. Yes, nudging the infinitive verbs. This is where you can just drop the end while speaking. For example, il va le mettre dans la boîte (He will put it in the drink). Now, this will actually get said as – il va le mett dans la boît. 

  • The Metamorphosis of ‘ce que’ to ‘skeu’

Try saying ce que tu fais est mauvais and then hear it on your talking dictionary. The beginning will sound like ‘skeu’. Whenever you come across formations like that, try saying it all together and you’ll hit the right native tone.

  • Nasal Makes You French

Just making sounds with your nose won’t give you the title of a French scholar, understanding when to say it how, will.

Take two words – lentement and lendemain. The first has en which is pronounced like how you’d say ‘long’ in English but just stop before ‘ng’. ‘An’ also follows the same patterns. Similarly, the second word has ain which is like saying ‘clang’ but stopping before ‘ng’. Other words which follow the rule are in and eint.

  • ‘É’ Is Not ‘ais’, ‘ait’ or ‘et’

One might think that pellé and palais have the same sound but that little difference in saying them will pleasantly surprise you. The first with the é is actually ‘ay’ while the second one is more like ‘le’, sort of how you’d pronounce it in goblet.

  • Gentlemen and Ladies Drop Their L’s

Remember ‘skeu’? Well, we’re back to something similar. In the sentence, ‘dis lui qu’elle est belle’ (tell her that she’s beautiful), qu’elle will be pronounced as ‘keh’ est belle. Clearly, the ‘l’s have been dropped.

Applaud yourself for coming this far and being this dedicated to learning the French. Forget the natives, impress yourself first with the right drops and rolls. Connect to our French tutors for perfection. See you next chapter!

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