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The sounds of French

link: French learning loom-Index

Learning the sounds of a foreign language can lead to some very interesting and controversial discussions at times, I have always found. This of course is confused further, from a native English speakers perspective - due to the huge number of different accents English speakers have. And this is not a unique issue to English speakers.

The French alphabet consists of 26 characters, and are the same 26 characters as used for English. However, note :

  • Pronunciation of the letters are different - between English and French.
  • There are several additional accents and letter combinations that are different between English and French.
  • Also note - just as with English, letters have "names" , and separate "pronunciations" when used in words. Many other languages also have this.

Pronouncing the NAMES of the letters of the Alphabet:

Here are a few internet resources you might find useful to assist in pronouncing the names of the letters in the French Alphabet ( again remember the names of the letters can be different to how they are said/pronounced in words ) :

- Alain de Lait's L'alphabet en Français - a 'catchy' alphabet song. (as per recommendation from hivemindx.)
- French Alphabet song , to the same tune as the alphabet is commonly learnt in English - but instead in French, and for the names of the French Alphabet.

In this voyage of discussions of sounds, you will come across the concept of :
IPA in English, which stands for the "International Phonetic Alphabet",
or ( perhaps more correctly ) :
AIP : "L'Association Phonétique Internationale" in French.
This is one and the same organization, and was founded in Paris in In January 1889 (under a slightly different name). Its aim is basically the establishment of a set of phonetic symbols to describe the sounds of language. To read more about the organization check here , or more about the script here

And this one may interest you here

You may also like to read about romaji using the Latin script to write Japanese - rōmaji (ローマ字?, literally, "roman letters". I came across this script when I studied Japanese.
And even in this there are several different romanization systems.

( I will continue to expand and modify this list of references over time - I welcome recommendations from others as well. )
( I will also talk about "the other letter symbols used" and move on to the phonetics of French.
This will include a resource on the sounds and common letter combinations in French ).

November 8, 2015



Thank you, very helpful.


Thank you. That is kind of you to say so.


With regards to the names of the letters of the alphabet in French I found this video very useful. Alain de Lait's L'alphabet en Français:- https://youtu.be/_LYy3P2okyw


Thank you for this recommendation ! And here are a few lingots to say thank you. As you can see - I have added your recommendation to the main header :D


Thanks a lot, these links really worked :D


I have another 'clutch' of them - for Arabic, and also for English sounds - that I am just trying to belt into shape as well - and then I am hoping to do some cross referencing between them - ( and have a skeleton of a table as well - that is being a little harder at belting into shape - between comparisons between two languages at a time. ) And a side line in Romaji that is 'asking' me to be added. I can't wait to get them out of my homework pile.


Thanks, Linda! Very helpful! I might resume my French studies sooner than I thought I would...

Also, about Romaji... way back when I first started studying Japanese (a few decades ago), I started with a Linguaphone course that was entirely in Romaji. I liked it a lot, so much so that when I found out they taught Japanese at the university, I went to that course (a few weeks into the semester).... only to discover to my horror that all the materials were in Kana and Kanji!

After a crash course in hiragana, though, I was able to catch up with the class...


I am SO pleased to hear you were able to catch up with the class ! Well Done !

It is worthwhile learning to read the language in the script of the language, as it opens up all sorts of other resources and opportunities for you to learn.

However using a tool, such as romaji, can be very useful in the very very early stages.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your language learning journey.


Thanks so much! As I was reading your comments, I thought of two things I wanted to share...

a) I suddenly remembered that I still have that Japanese course and dug it up! So now I'm going to review it and add the vocabulary to my knowledge base. Can't believe I didn't think of it earlier... I also still have the textbook from the Japanese course at the university (in Kanji).

b) Here's how I came to buy the Linguaphone course in the first place... While still in high school, I had requested their "free" cassette tape (!) with sample lessons from several languages. Once I was on their mailing list, they kept sending me special offers, which followed me all the way to college.

One day, they sent me an offer I couldn't resist: "You have WON!"

Yup, I had won the second prize in their special sweepstakes: a full correspondence course of my choice, complete with "homework" correction! With one tiny condition: I had to purchase and successfully complete another course first ;-)

So I purchased their Japanese course! I was practicing karate at the time and was intrigued by Japanese culture and art.

And after I finished my Japanese course, I got... the French (!) course for free! I hope I can find that one too. It should definitely help with the pronunciation.


Thank you for sharing this inspiring story !

As another aside, Duolingo also has TinyCards.
It came out a few years after I did my initial work on French sounds.

What would be fun is to create a deck in TinyCards, that also concentrated on introducing one to the sounds of another language, such as French.

The advantage of TinyCards is that it does have audio built in for quite a number of languages. And over time they have continued to include more.

To be able to connect sound files with a deck of cards is wonderfully powerful for language learning.

If you do happen to get inspired, please drop my a line - for example here - so I can check it out and up vote it.

Again, thank you for the joy of sharing your language learning adventures.

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