My French pronunciation sucks. How can I improve it?

How can I improve my French pronunciation?

Or actually, the better question would be:

How can I MINIMIZE my (insert native language here) accent?

What I’m getting at is you can’t exactly avoid an accent when speaking in another language. It’s pretty much inevitable (yeah I know, tell me about it… it sucks). The only exception I can think of is being immersed in the language at a very young age, and surrounded by native speakers (or in this case, French speakers).

But why would you want to improve pronunciation in a certain language? Well, in order to TRULY grasp a language, you have to put in an effort to learn the variances of intonation, and pronunciation. That is one of the main things which make a language unique.

In regards to specific improvements and tips. I’ll be going over the ones that give more of a “French” sound. If you guys like this and want more, leave a comment below and I’ll work on another post just like this one!

Let’s begin:

Consonants in French are generally the same as those in English, except for the “r” sound. The “r” is made with the back of the throat, in contrast with the English “r”, which is made with the tongue touching pointing towards the middle roof of the mouth (note: the Spanish “r” is made with the tongue touching the front of the mouth… or the back of your top teeth). It took me quite a while to get it down. My roommates would call me out whenever I used the “r” in an “English” way. A few tips would be to make a “grrrrr” sound, like a dog. To get an idea of what the “r” sound feels like, try gargling.

But what really helped me with this sound was this video:

I strongly suggest you check it out if you’re still having troubles with that particular sound.

Another aspect of the French language, something I find often disregarded (when it shouldn’t be), is fluidity. I hope no one comes after me but I’m pretty sure it’s not a technical term. It’s just a way to describe the language; its fluid. And it’s part of the reason why us English speakers have a hard time understanding the French language. The misconception of why we can’t understand the language, is that the French people speak very fast. However, it’s not that at all. It’s because French people talk in a way in which each word is often blended with one another, making it difficult to differentiate them. To put it in technical terms, they’re called liaisons and enchaînements. However that’s a topic I’ll get into another day. For now take a look at this video. It describes for the most part what I’m talking about in a more, non-technical aspect.

I hope this has helped you guys in a bit with your French pronunciations and accent! If you have any other questions or suggestions, just comment down below!

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Comments

    • Anthony De Guzman says

      I am by no means an English teacher, nor an expert on the language so please excuse that. I can’t really explain the English R. However, I do know that the tip of the tongue points slightly up; I was exaggerating it. Also, when pronounced with almost any other letters in a word, it does end up touching the roof of the mouth. I just wanted to give the image of the French “r” being in the back of the mouth, the English in the middle and the Spanish in the front.

  1. Denis Jutras says

    Hi,

    Sometime an accent is very nice. The english accent in french in particular is nice. I’m not sure that it is inevitable. At the very least it can be very very hard to discern. I Live in the western part of quebec near the Ontario border. I know lots of english speaking peoples with a very light accent and of course the same for the french with a slight accent in english, bot are very nice and sometime hard to discern if you’re not listening closely. As a french native, I’d hope that I will learn to speak with no accent at all, still, I don’t really care too much as I know that for most english people they like the french accent when it is not too pronounced. The french girl will love your accent anyway, so try to learn french and try to be not too obsess with the accent.

    Take care!

    • Anthony De Guzman says

      That’s some great insight! It really takes off the worries of one’s French accent.

      But you’re right, the accent is pretty much inevitable. Despite that, we should embrace it. As English speakers, we enjoy all sorts of accents we hear.

      I think one should primarily improve their accent in order to be understood clearly. For me, that seems like a reasonable “line”.

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