10 Tips to Sound More French

Speaking French like a French native speaker is the dream of all French students/learners. But it doesn't come as naturally as some may think.

Maybe you have been learning French for quite some time, but something still doesn’t feel right when you speak? It's perfectly normal. Speaking French like a francophone requires many steps and quite a bit of work. But hopefully with these 10 tips, you will be able to reach your goal a little bit faster.


This subject has been requested so many times! And, you know that I love teaching all the tips and tricks to make your learning experience easier and faster. However, after teaching you perfect pronunciation for 2 months, it was hard to put myself to work to teach you to...undo it. Yes, you read it right, I am going to ask you to undo what I taught you. But don't worry, what you learned is fine and the correct pronunciation, I am just going to ask you to skip some vowels here and there ;)


I've already talked too much, it's time for you to learn all the secrets I give my students for them to reach the Holy Grail of sounding "a little bit more French".


A little note, keep in mind that French is spoken in 28 countries as an official language or not. Some of the points, especially contractions, slang and expressions, might differ depending on the area and country. So, when I say "sounding a little bit more French", France is only one of the many countries where people speak French, so let's rephrase this and say "sounding a little bit more like a francophone".


Here are my 10 tips so you can sound a little bit less like a textbook ;)




1. Master the Pronunciation Rules


This is probably what surprised me the most. French learners (and maybe you?) spend countless of hours trying to master French grammar and French conjugation, while spending very little time learning their pronunciation rules.

Many think that speaking with the correct use of Passé composé or grammar in general will give them a good level of French speaking skills.

I even get a lot of messages asking me where people should start, of course I answer pronunciation, and I bet that 9/10, people don't follow my advice.

So yes, the first thing you should work on is your pronunciation and nothing else. There is so much to work on, silent letters, liaisons, different sounds, exceptions. Trust me you are in for quite some work. But once you know the rules, you did 80% of the work already. The other 20% are these next 9 tips.


Don't forget to enjoy the process, every little rule you learn is a part of the wonderful journey to learning a language!



2. Work on Your Listening Skills


It has been proven many times that learning a language is easier when you are familiar with the sounds. How can you expect to pronounce a word correctly if your ear can't hear the word?


I always say "if you can't hear it you can't pronounce it". I myself spend a lot of time listening to words on repeat.

In many languages, sounds won't be the same as your first language. All you need to do is to open your ears and let your brain gets used to the sounds.

A few easy ways to practice are:

- Watch TV in French

- Listen to a few songs a day

- Listen to my podcast, etc.

The most efficient but also the one that requires the most concentration is to listen to an audiobook with the book (paperback, eBook) in front of you. The best option for this is Audible. They have a variety of audiobooks and of course books you can read.

Try Audible for free and get 2 free audiobooks a month

I recommend you to try this book: "Le petit Nicolas"











Your brain will connect the way a word / a sentence is pronounced and how it's written. Soon enough you won't even have to think about pronunciation before speaking!



3. Use More Contractions


This is where I hurt my own feelings, after months teaching you the right pronunciation, I am going to teach what to skip, but only when you speak.

In French, we have regular contractions, that we are going to review quickly below. These contractions happen in both written and spoken French.


Let's have a look at the regular contractions, the ones that happens in written and spoken French:


Regular contractions:


La + orange = L'orange The orange

Je + ai = J'ai I have

Se + est = S'est Part of a reflexive verb


There are many more, if you need to learn more about them, check out this video-lesson.



And here are the contractions and shorten words to add only when you speak. They simply happen because we speak fast, so we skip some letters and parts of the word here and there:

Tu + as = T'as

Tu as le temps de prendre un café ? = T'as le temps de prendre un café ?

Do you have time to take a coffee?


Tu + es = T'es

Tu es en retard = T'es en retard You are late

Le = L' / De = d'

Tu as le temps de prendre un café ? = T'as l'temps d'prendre un café ?

Do you have time to take a coffee?


Me = m'

Tu peux me rappeler d'appeler Marie ? = Tu peux m'rappeler d'appeler Marie ?

Can you remind me to call Marie?


Je = J'

Je dois partir = J'dois partir

I have to leave


Est-ce que = Eske

Est-ce que tu veux un café ? = Eske tu veux un café ?

Do you want a coffee?


Parce que = Pasque

Non parce que je dois partir dans cinq minutes = Non pasque j'dois partir dans cinq minutes.

No because I have to leave in five minutes


Encore = Co

Tu as encore oublié ta veste ? = T'as co oublié ta veste ?

You forgot your jacket again?


Je suis = Chui

Je suis là = Chui

I am here


Je sais = Chè

Je sais bien = Chè bien

I am well aware


Il y a = Y a

Il y a du café si tu veux = Y a du café si tu veux

There si coffee if you want


Plus = Pus

Tu n'as plus d'eau? = T'as pus d'eau?


I always say to keep an open mind when it comes to French spoken contractions. They don't happen all the time, if we speak slowly for some reason, we won't contract words too much. Other times we will pronounce every single syllable of the word. It's all in the context.





4. Forget (some of) the negation


After having to teach you to undo some part of the pronunciation, now it's time to teach you bad grammar! Oh boy, what am I doing?!

Joke asides, it is easier this way for French learners, so I don't mind teaching you this at all.


Keep only the second part of the negation:


Non je n'ai pas le temps = Non, j'ai pas le temps / J'ai pas l'temps

No I don't have time


Je n'en ai plus = J'en ai plus / J'en ai pus

I don't have any left


Il n'a pas envie = Il a pas envie

He doesn't want to


Elle n'a jamais vu ce film = Elle a jamais vu ce film / Elle a jamais vu s'film

She never saw this movie



Forget about "N'est-ce pas" and replace it by NON:

Il avait raison n'est-ce pas ?

=> Use simply non

Il avait raison, non ?

He was right, wasn't he?


For some sentences, we will remove completely the negation:

Ne t'inquiète pas ! Don't worry!

T'inquiète ! Worry!



5. Make Sure to Link Words and to Know When to Link Them


In order to speak faster, we link words. It also allows us to have a smoother pronunciation. If we didn't link words, we would have to stop between 2 words and the pronunciation would be kind of broken.


We follow very specific rules when we link words together. We have 3 types of links : Required - Optional - Forbidden.


Let's have a look at a few for each category:


Required links:

  • Between an article and a noun

Les amis = Les Zamis Friends

  • Between numbers and a noun

Trois ans = Trois Zans Three years

  • Pronouns and verbs

Nous étions - Nous Zétions We were


Optional links:

  • After plural nouns

Les enfants iront = Les Zenfants Ziront The children will go

  • Between 2 verbs

Ils sont allés = Ils sont Tallés They went



Forbidden:

  • Before H aspiré

Un haricot A bean

  • After ET

Et aussi And also


If you want to know more about Links / Liaisons, watch this video-lesson.




6. Add Fillers Words Here and There



Fillers don't need to much explanation; they simply fill the sentence. Think how many times you use "Actually", "I mean", "Well", and more. I bet you use them quite a bit! This is the same for French, and lucky for you, we use them in a very similar way.


Some common filler words:

Alors So

Quoi You know / You see

Eh bien Well

Tu vois ? You know?

Euh Um

Donc So

Voyons Let’s see

Hein ? A bit like the Canadian Eh

Voilà !

Bah / Bein

Bref

Enfin

Oups ! Oops!

Youpi ! Yay!

Chut ! Shush!

Ho ! Wow!

Hé ! Hey!

Beurk ! Yuck!

Ouf ! Ouch!

Pfff ! Piouf!


7. Use a bit of Slang


Bouffer = Manger To eat


Ça me saoûle / Ça me gonfle It bothers me / It annoys me


Je m'en fous I don't care



8. Expressions and Idioms


Avoir une peur bleue = To have a blue fear

To be terrified


Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles = To have the bottom surrounded by noodles

To be lucky


Voir la vie en rose = To see life in pink

To be happy


Avoir les yeux plus gros que le ventre = To have eyes bigger than the stomach

Usually used when people eat too much, over-served themselves, are greedy


Ne pas y aller avec le dos de la cuillère = To not go with the back of the spoon

To go all in



9. Try to Avoid Nous


Nous is a very formal way to speak in French. And even tho we do use it in spoken French, most of the time, it's better to use ON instead of NOUS. And let's be honest, it's so much easier for conjugation since it's conjugated like Il and Elle.


It will also help with the very confusing reflexive verbs conjugated with Nous:

Nous nous sommes habillés We got dressed


Or even worst, a reflexive verb conjugated with Nous in a negative sentence:

Nous ne nous sommes pas habillés We didn't get dressed


If we use ON :

On s'est habillés We got dressed


And you add only the last part of the negation :

On s'est pas habillés We didn't get dressed

So much easier!


Other examples:

Nous serons là à 15 heures We weill be there at 3 p.m.

On sera là à 15 heures


Nous nous sommes rencontrés au parc We met at the parc

On s'est rencontrés au parc

10. Speak a Little Bit Faster


I feel like the person you talk to when your internet is not working, and they ask you if you tried unplugging the modem first.


Unfortunately, sometimes things have to be asked and said. So yes, speaking a bit faster will make you sound a little bit more French. But this is going to be the last step of all, don't try to speak faster if you don't master everything else from this list first.


I would also recommend you try at home first, maybe it's better ;) You don't want to make a fool of yourself in front of your French speaking friends.


Try practicing with a few tongue twisters, watch this video to practice them:





And there you have it, 10 tips to improve your French speaking skills. Let me know if these tips helped you and how you are planning to practice them


Check out the video below if you prefer to watch instead of reading,





0 comments

Recent Posts

See All