https://www.duolingo.com/bethany.1994

I'm doing terrible with French so far

I'm a native English speaker. I've been learning Spanish for years. I decided that to prepare for my upcoming visit to Europe, I'd start learning basic French.

I've never had French before, and this course is kicking my ass. Nothing sounds like it's spelled. At this rate, I'm going to be taking a note card with basic phrases and their phonetic spelling. Any suggestions to get over the pronunciation thing? Would it help if I learned the French alphabet first?

February 20, 2015

19 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ketoacidosis

That is a huge problem for many students when learning any language: not every language has the same sounds. We need to learn to hear and recognize new sounds instead of trying to hear foreign sounds as English sounds.

I had a lot of difficulty going through the French tree at first, too. I found some recordings online with an accompanying textbook, and I've gone through a bit of that. It was called "Introduction to French Phonology" by the Foreign Service Institute I think. Pronunciations, rules, and exceptions were repeated over and over again. In a very short time, learning the language became a lot easier.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidSinghiser

YES! That is a great text! I need to go back to it again.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/wildfood

French pronunciation seems impossible at first but after awhile you will be a pro!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92aQwVUBAYY

Tip: le = the and rhymes with it too...

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Shiftos

That video was really helpful, thanks.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/bethany.1994

Thanks, I'm just going to watch this until I can remember all that!

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/earthkissed

actually that should help! french spelling is really pretty standard, so if you have examples of how something sounds in one word, and you memorize those examples, it will help you when you see it later in another word. so if you write down the word "beau" and memorize that its pronounced "boh", you shouldn't have any trouble when you come across the word "nouveau" (noo-voh") for example, even though that word looks impossible to say to people brand new to french. just remember that in french you sound out letter-groups, not always individual letters. for example, the group of letters "eau" (or eaux for plurals) sounds like "oh" and "aille" (or ailles for plurals) sounds like "eye." once you've seen enough words (a few hundreds at most) you should have seen everything you're ever going to see in french, and if you've watched for and memorized the spelling patterns such as above, you will stop having trouble.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/toussaintlou

I've been there, and forced myself to sit down and work through the proper pronunciations for letter combinations. I created this cheat sheet:

https://duolinguist.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/french-pronunciation-cheat-sheet/

and listened to these French podcasts:

http://podclub.ch/index.php/fr/emissions/l-avis-de-marie-f

it took time, but it helped a great deal. Good luck with your efforts.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/harryclark17

French spelling makes sense, but it's just really, really weird. I would advise you to focus on knowing when to not pronounce parts of the word and when to use letters that aren't pronounced. Remember, French spelling is focused on making grammatical sense, etymology, and meaning. Very different from Spanish, which is focused on pronunciation. Written French is often very different from spoken French. Once you get adjusted, it'll make perfect sense. Don't give up! It gets easier fast.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/tkuhl87

I've found that people who start with Spanish have a tougher time than people who start with French. The biggest hurdle is Spanish you tend to pronounce everything. One of the simplest things to think of is the French tend to leave off the last part of a word in pronunciation, but also merge words to make them sound better.

For instance Nous by itself would be pronounced 'Noo' but when you add a word like aimons (by itself pronounced 'aimon' skip the s) it becomes pronounced 'NooseAimon'. So that s in Nous typically would be skipped unless there's a word after it that makes it sort of slur into it.

Hope that helps! I find the toughest part when listening is discerning the difference between Le and Les. Same thing as above, Le is more of a 'Leh' and Les is more of a 'Ley'

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/duolingopeep7

No worries! Keep practicing and you should get it! I also support larrieuxa's idea.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidSinghiser

It's still killing me but I've seen an improvement lately. For awhile it seemed like it was crap shoot of throwing out some vowels and end the word with an s and hope for the best. Just keep going, I'm even hearing things I couldn't hear before. So just keep on plugging away. It'll click.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/PieterdeBe1

Hi Bethany.... Patience, patience and more patience. The most difficult part of learning French is the part where you forgive yourself for your spelling, pronunciation and orders of words. It gets worse later when your confidence increases and you make careless mistakes! But the secret to successful learning is this: Love the language and love yourself when what you say, sounds right.

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Deloraen

Hey there ! Don't drop it, it is normal that you find it hard for now. In french a sound is often written in several different ways and actually I've barely saw that amount of complication in other languages. You just need to practise :) If you want, I can help you with it, I'm a french native speaker, so I can translate you the sentences or the words you don't know how to pronounce in a phonetic way. Good luck !

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/FresnoVegas

You need to practice with a French person. I would search out a patient French language partner who wants to practice English (There are several free sites where you can find someone). It will help you out immensely. The spelling is a bear, that's true, but there really is a method to the madness. Eventually you get the hand of what feels right when you read a word. If you're visiting Europe, though, remember that you'll be talking a lot more than reading, so having a human being reciprocate your learning is paramount!

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/KCarw

It will be hard at first, but as much as you practice you will get better. My only clue I can give for listening on duonlingo is: When you are listening on duolingo the article "les" it will sound "le", while "le"it will sound "lo", same for "des" and "de".

February 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/donkeychain

This image always helps me out when I'm learning something new: http://i.imgur.com/ndkMbdC.jpg

Just have to practice!

February 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/prky
  • 2021

You could try to listen to "French in Action" episodes on Youtube. The episodes assume you are not familiar with the language, and that that is ok. By watching and listening, you can get a sense of pronuciation, and basic vocabulary. Bonne chance!

February 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/baagar

Practice, practice, practice! It would also help to speak french with someone who knows french. Listening to the synthesized voice on duolingo only goes so far!!

February 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/BobbieL

This is not free, but if you want a tool to help you learn French pronunciation, Gabriel Wyner made a set of Anki flash cards that are focused on French pronunciation and spelling (including audio). https://fluent-forever.com/pronunciation-trainers/#.VOmtXfnF_nE ($12, I think?)

There's also a word list of 625 other words that comes with audio files, I think, on that site.

February 22, 2015
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