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I can't understand French!!!

When it says "type what you hear," and the person talks, I can't understand them! Does anyone know how to get it right without just reading the "You got it wrong" thing at the bottom???

March 11, 2018



When I started learning French, I had a terrible time with the "type what you hear" exercises. Someone, I wish I could remember who, suggested that I treat every sentence as if it were a pronunciation exercise, and say the sentence along with Duo. Sometimes it took me many, many tries. I was surprised to find out that I pronounced words like "de" and "que" with the e sound like in the English bet or fed. They really are a schwa sound, like in mechanic.

This is a great help, because it improves your listening, your pronunciation, and your spelling. Try it for a week and see what you think. It will slow you down greatly as far as getting XP, lingots, and levels, but it will speed up your accuracy incredibly.


Actually the audios are not that good but the easiest thing to do is watching videos in French and try to understand them (it's better if there is subtitles in the begining) and then your ears will have less problems


I agree. The audio isn't the best, and with me, I came into Duolingo knowing a little bit about how French sounds, so that helped me out. I recommend turning off the listening parts for now, and after getting a feel of how French sounds like, return to the listening parts.


Try this for extra practice: Treat the translation exercises, where there is audio and text that are supposed to be translated into English, as "type what you hear" exercises before you translate into English. That is, don't look at the text until you have tried to figure out the French from the audio, then check yourself against the written text, then do the translation. When you know what the text of a sentence is, listen to the audio again, a couple of times. Say the French aloud with the audio, if you are somewhere that you can do that . In this way half or more of the exercises will be ear training. You should soon show great improvement, and the audio itself (which is completely comprehensible, with just a few exceptions, once you are used to hearing French) will start to "speak to you" so that you can hear the French sounds.

You will improve if you keep trying, but you are right: it is definitely hard at first.


try to put the voice slower and if you cant hear what they are saying still, think of a sentence that sounds similar that you wrote down in the writing bit of duolingo and write it

hope i helped ^^

[deactivated user]

    Hey puffypuppy! I had the same problem understanding French. If I had to guess why it would be because my ears weren't used to the softer sound of the French language and many words blended together in the beginning. It does get easier over time and as you get better at recognizing words you'll find it easier to differentiate words. But you have to get into more material, especially material with subtitles or learning videos. You're level 7 so don't get frustrated. I still have to have people repeat their French at times. Some days I feel like Joey....



    Many English speakers find listening to French hard, including me. Try the turtle button first, and if you still don't get it, just take a total random guess based on the letters you heard - you don't necessarily have to form meaningful words. Then you can slowly get better and better till the point where those sounds and letters can be meaningfully combined. And as already been said, try listening first, then seeing the sentence, on the other exercises.


    Try using the slower voice. This helped me so much to understand.
    It sometimes took me several tries to completely understand. I would type what I thought I heard then replay it whilst reading the sentence I wrote and see if they sound/look the same.


    How do you change the color of the words???


    It's taken me 2 years, but I'm finally starting to understand the audio only exercises. I find the male voice the easier to understand, while I can understand the female voice better than when I first started, I really don't like her accent, but that's just me.


    Hey, I still have that problem sometimes and I've been doing it for 2 years now!

    The problem is that you're not very familiar with the words being pronounced. I found (and still find) that it helps me to go to the "practice" tab in Duolingo and review unfamiliar words. Yes, you'll still be completely stumped by some words for a long time... but eventually you'll be able to pronounce them and recognise them being pronounced.

    ALSO, like others have said, try to practice pronouncing the sentences regardless of what type of exercise they are in the lesson. Turn on your microphone exercises if you haven't already. Lastly, if you're confused about the pronunciation of a word, use this website to look it up : https://forvo.com


    I agree with everyone else saying to treat each exercise as an audio exercise!

    What really helped me in the beginning was to play the audio for each sentence and say it aloud, trying to pronounce it just like Duo's voice. I did this with every single sentence, even the very simple ones. (I'm using desktop, so it may be more difficult to use my method on the app though.)

    You'll get there eventually - it just takes a bit of practice! =)


    It's just gonna take time to adjust to them. It's partly that the sound files are full of audio errors unfortunately. Especially the female voice (the way she says "Bien" is awful). But as you master listening to french (and learning how the grammar works) it should get easier. Sometimes if you can make out like 60% of what (s)he's saying the rest becomes obvious just because it can only be certain things.


    When you're doing other exercises, try to associate sounds with the letters. The thing is, people say French doesn't sound like it looks - but that's not completely true. There are rules, they just aren't the same as in English, so you just have to get those rules down. Also, you're pretty early in the course, so you can try to remember what options are likely. The phrase is probably one you've seen before.

    Another thing to consider is to start with what you heard, but then check to see if the sentence is grammatically correct. Adjectives that have to agree with nouns, for instance - verte and vertes sound the same usually, but if it was about more than one thing, remember to put the s. Same for feminine nouns - these often do sound the same, but not always. It's also the case for a lot of third person verb tenses (lise versus lisent). Or "a" (as in "Il a un chien") may sound the same to you as à (as in "Il va à la plage") but context should tell you which one you need at that time (also for this particular case, Duo is flexible on accents, but you should try to get the accents down too. They do make many words sound different, so just ignoring accents is doing yourself a disservice).


    I can't understand French either, it is so hard for


    You can get rid of the "type what you hear" by pressing the gray skip button at the bottom left corner of the screen.

    Hope this helps!


    That is a terrible suggestion, just to skip the things you find hard?


    Thanks, everyone, I'll try!


    Just presscan’t Listen now


    I am in this situation, too! Do you listen with earbuds/headphones or just with the speaker? Try the opposite of what you are currently using, that might help.

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