Cannot understand this woman!
I know that understanding spoken words and pronunciations is a big part of learning a new language... but I am just barely getting started in French, and I have no idea how I'm supposed to understand and transcribe some of this speech! I have to skip most of it and lose points. Even with the very limited vocabulary to which I've been exposed, I often can't figure out a single word that's being pronounced! Does anyone else have this problem? Is French really so different, or are these recordings particularly difficult?
Your situation is perfectly understandable. Your ear, little by little, has to get accustomed to decipher new sounds, in particular if you have not yet learnt any other language than your mother tongue, and even "worse" if you are an adult. But many learners here have had the same issue in the beginning. If you are determined to make some progress, you probably should accept your position as if you were all of a sudden dropped into a French city, with a huge difference: there are plenty of new learners around you. Practically, you should repeat a lesson again and again until it starts to make its way to your brain. I don't know where you are from, but French is less difficult for Italians, Spaniards or Portuguese, because they are from the same family of "latin" languages. When it comes to anglo-saxons, yes, French looks, works and sounds different. That's the beauty of learning really new things, isn't it?
Good luck, come back with any question you may have, there will always be someone to help you.