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Understanding Spoken French

How can I learn how to understand spoken French? How long does it take to begin to understand what is being said? I've been studying French and watching movies, TV shows and YouTube videos in French and listening to French news for more than two years. I still only understand short words and simple phrases. I'm getting much better at reading it but my listening comprehension stinks.

January 10, 2018



I don't know but I started listening to French music about a month ago and my comprehension has improved significantly. My suggestion check out the song of the day thread. It really helped me alot. Bonne chance!



and the French stories helped me too..


Listening to music is great! Music is the only reason why my Portuguese comprehension is better than French, I started listening to music in Portuguese earlier into my studying than French.


Try this youtube site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_ZQVWDlvYY This is just one of many many short posts. Turn on subtitles in French and voila! A great help for me. I watch one of his posts every day. Another tip: Find a local group, preferably with a native speaker, to have weekly meetings. ( or search français authentique on youtube)


Excellent, what a fantastic series to watch! Thank you.


Thank you so much.


I am around french conversations often and listening and participating in actual conversation helps a lot. There might be a language club you could join.

One thing that has helped me is to put up the french subtitles when I am watching something in french, that helps me identify how specific things sound that I may not have caught otherwise.

I also would suggest children's movies and cartoons in French. The language is a little bit simpler and I find that I learn to listen better with the simpler dialogue.


OMGosh! I hadn't thought of turning on the language closed captions to read along! MERCI BEAUCOUP!


Yes, I am at the point where I can express myself pretty well in French and communicate with someone if the conversation remains slow and relatively simple. But I miss things if I just watch a French movie. I find that if I read the closed captions in French I can follow the movie no problem. It gets a bit tiring though :)

  • 1998

Face it, French is not your cup du chocolat!!-) Seriously, you seem to be motivated (I assume the level 14 in English is the Fr-En reverse tree)! That, motivation to learn, is a huge plus. Also, you are doing the right thing to immerse in the language by listening to/watching French songs/movies.

IMO, you need to find out what exactly seem(s) to be the issue(s) that prevent(s) you from making progress in learning the language. For example, figure out whether you are learning/retaining the vocab, the grammar, as well as whether your specific approach(es) in studying/immersion are really suitable for you. Some simple checks would be:

  1. how well do you retain the vocab you have gone over?
  2. how well do you understand the grammar you have gone over?
  3. how well do you recognize the words you learned?
  4. how efficient/effective is your immersion? (Although this may seem to be the smoking gun, it may not be the main/only area of concern...) ...

Some suggestions:

  1. One simple tool that I use with my kids for improving vocab recognition is the Memrise tool. Last I checked, it had a lot of French vocab spoken by natives.

  2. Besides listening to 'easy' French (like Memrise or kids movies/songs), you may want to read/translate from/into French. Wikipedia is a great source as you could find 'similar' pages in English and French. Forvo and Google Translate are pretty good at pronouncing many of the words.

Finally, if available, take a French class at a local school/on line where you would be able to go over your specific needs with a professional. Sometimes, professionals are worth their weight in gold!!

Good luck and keep up the immersion! It is the only way to achieve real fluency in a language...


I've found this site very helpful in working to improve my listening comprehension. The speaker is heavy on the liaisons, but his pronunciation is excellent. http://froggyspeak.com/chamilo/index.php


Quality share! Thanks for the froggyspeak tip.


como puedes aprender como a entender hablar frances?como largo hacer esto tomar mendigar a entender que es empezar dijo he estado estudiando Frances y acecho peliculas,TV shows y you tube videos en Frances escuchando en frances nuevos para mas que dos años.Yo solo todavia entender corto mundoy simple fraces.Yo estoy obteniendo mucho mejor leyendo my escucha comprencion apesta


I like 1 jour 1 question on Youtube. The vocab is simple. You can listen to it over and over. It has cartoonish drawings with it to give you context clues. I also like Le Petit Nicolas. I have struggled with understanding spoken French and I think I finally started improving when I realized it was really hard for me and that it was okay to listen to the same things over and over, and to use subtitles. Be patient with yourself because for some people, this is the hardest part. And don't give yourself a time limit. Keep at it until you understand it better. It will take a while. There's no magic pill unfortunately. Bonne chance!


focus on the exercises that have speech and repeat what they say.

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.