Do You Speak French?

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The big gap between what you expect and reality.

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Reading French sounds easy (because most French learners do it silently), since we can recognize about 30% of French words used in English language.
Speaking French may sound easy for some as they just pronounce what they see. But it’s actually very different because what you see is written French. And written French is almost a different language. Every French learner needs to be aware of that before starting to learn French.

The three levels of French pronunciation:

  1. French letters pronunciation: you master it when you know how to pronounce each individual letters (A, B, C…) and the vowels combinations (AU, EN, UN, AN, EIN etc…). That’s basics and the very first step to master French pronunciation.
  2. French words pronunciation: you know how to pronounce French words when you can pronounce complete words like “attention” (a.tɑ̃.sjɔ̃) and not “attènchieun” (əˈtenʃn̩). Check out Forvo or Rhinospike to get the right pronunciation of French words by real humans.
  3. French sentences pronunciation: if you master the 2 firsts levels but not this one, you will not be understood by French natives. It is the most important level and whether you are good or not with the two first levels, this one will definitely make the difference. Every child in the world start with this level. You should maybe start quickly with this one.

The fact that French is shorten makes the French harder to understand but it’s not the principal reason.

French sounds fast, but it’s just the consequence of different causes:

French words pronunciation is completely different in context. French emphasize vowels but use the consonants to jump to the other vowel. We use vowels for the rhythm and consonants to jump between the vowels. That’s why we don’t emphasize the last consonant of a word or sentence.

We emphasize the vowel “em” and soften the consonants “pl” in “par exemple“. If you just say this word, the last consonants will be soften.
But if you add a word behind it you will use the “pl” consonants to jump to the next vowel “a“: “par exemple à Paris,…” (could also be written “pa/re/xem/pla/pa/ris…”)

You can see that even non-pronounced consonants are used to jump, and that’s the reason why French has Liaisons. It allows the French language to follow a bit the same pattern as the Japanese.

Beginners in French, keep in mind these important facts. It will help you a lot to improve quickly!

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