As you learn to speak French, you also need to learn how to listen in a new way so you can understand this beautiful language. French tutor Annie A. shares four proven ways to improve your French listening skills…
Understanding French can be quite a challenge, even if you can read the written language with comparative ease. To many English speaking students, whole sentences in French sound like one long word.
One reason for this confusion is that French pronunciation uses something called a liaison. Liaisons join the sounds of each word together, for example if one ends in consonant and the next one starts in a vowel . Furthermore, French is spoken very quickly. From the point of view of English speaking students, French words sound very different from the way they are written.
In order to solve these problems, a few tested French listening practice methods can be used.
First of all, listening to French is going to be the best way for you to get used to the sounds and the intonation of this beautiful language. You might enjoy listening to French radio, podcasts, or music. Or, for enhanced French listening practice, watch French TV, YouTube videos, movies, and series with subtitles on. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the language. Find material that interests you and you will train your ear with repetitive listening.
Text with audio is another way of improving your French comprehension. Reading while listening is highly effective if you do it on a regular basis. It helps you connect the sounds you hear with the written word. With practice, soon you will understand the audio without the text.
Actually, it helps a lot if you are listening to material consistent with your level of understanding of grammar and vocabulary. In this way, you can make much more sense of what is being said and it reinforces your previous knowledge. This will integrate the language skills you are learning. Speaking, reading, and writing practice all complement each other and improve overall language and listening comprehension.
Another effective French listening practice strategy is to have regular conversations with a fluent francophone. Make time to practice conversation with your French speaking friend in-person or online via Skype. When you are talking, you must process what you’ve heard and respond within a relatively short time frame. Over time, your comprehension of spoken French will improve dramatically, and you will gain confidence in your new language skills.
Write down what you hear during a listening exercise to hone your listening and writing skills. You can also take notes in French while listening to a French podcast or radio program. Just make sure the level of difficulty of the material you’re using is appropriate to your capabilities. You don’t want to get overwhelmed or burned out on your study of French!
I believe that listening is the most difficult skill to develop when learning French. It will take time to improve your listening skills. There is no shortcut. The untrained ear has to be trained. However, if you practice listening to French every day, you are sure to improve!
For more help improving your French language skills, work with a qualified private tutor. French tutors are available to work with you in-person or online via Skype depending on your location. Find your French tutor today!
Photo by Kaitlin Shiner