As the crows in your garden peck on crunchy crops, crowing hard and proud, you side-eye them intensely. Jealous much? Oh, absolutely, but not at their crow-y carriage. No, you don’t want to flap a pair of feathery wings as you prey on roly-poly bugs, at least not today. It’s their crispy “caw” that bothers you, that “kraa” that sounds much like the guttural French R stuck in your throat.
“If birds of feather can do it, why can’t I?” you ask, biting your nails in bitterness once again. For the love of manicure — or, God forbid, pedicure — let us help you with that answer! A little bird told us how you can master your French pronunciation, and you’d better heed its tips. Down for some friendly advice?
Come On, Birdie, Let’s Go Nerdy
It can be challenging to parler français. But when a language sounds as romantic and catchy as this one, you want to give it the biggest of attempts. And the fun part is, you can manage your accent and speak like a native Parisian in 10 steps. Achieving that might take some time, but c’est la vie. Now, let’s see how you can reach your goals as a Francophone.
1. Learn Your ABCs
Like all other languages, French also has its defining characteristics. For instance, its alphabet has 26 letters, the pronunciations of which sometimes confuse non-native speakers. Saying O should make you wonder whether you have a cold. The R is created at the back of the mouth. The H is often silent, but you still have to write it. Learning the language’s alphabet and phonetics is the first step to sounding more French.
2. Listen to How French Sounds
To murmur in French with ease, you must first get a gist of the language’s rhythm and flow. And the best way to do that is to listen to how it sounds. We’re not saying you should eavesdrop on your Marseille-born neighbors, even though we understand your highly honorable motivations behind that. However, streaming French content online is a much more acceptable approach. Plus, you can use the replay button when necessary.
3. Talk in French
Of course, doing nothing but treating your ears to clips in French will only get you so far. If you want to master your pronunciation, you must get your hands — or, in this case, your tongue — dirty. You must speak the language every day, from 9 to 5, from dusk till dawn! Okay, we might need to hold our horses a bit there. But the point is, to learn French, you must speak French.
4. Sing in French
Next, follow Zaz’s steps and sing your heart out. What better way to get introduced to the culture of French-speaking countries and hone your pronunciation skills than actively enjoying some fantastic tunes? You’ll have a good and productive time and possibly discover that you have great musical talent! Or, you might just reconfirm that notes are and will forever be alien territory for you. It’s still a fun experience. Well, perhaps your roommates may beg to differ.
5. Find People on the Same Journey
Is there anyone else who’s as crazy about French as you are? If you don’t know, you should find out ASAP! Having a partner in crime can be fantastic, especially when you’re trying to teach yourself a new language. It can keep you motivated and make the study sessions way more interesting. Moreover, if the other Francophone is more fluent in the language than you, it might even speed up your progress.
6. Practice Your Pronunciation Mindfully
Speaking of practice, it does make perfect, but only if you pay attention to what you’re doing. Everyone can mispronounce a word, call it a day, and carry on. However, that’s not how you achieve fluency. Gargling your Rs the right way means you must relieve your pronunciation failures and do so mindfully. So, whenever you make a mistake, take some time to analyze it. Then, try to avoid making it at each consecutive try.
7. Record Your French Monologues
You should use your phone’s built-in recorder to get a great insight into what you should improve on. Press the record button at the beginning of your study session and talk. Once you’re done practicing, play the tape and indulge in gentle self-criticism. And don’t forget to write down your thoughts. Your notes can be incredibly helpful when setting yourself on the right learning track.
8. Give Reading in French a Go
Apart from recording yourself, you could try memorizing dialogues or reading a book in French. This can be an excellent way to tune out of the world’s hum and enjoy some peaceful silence. And if you want to laugh as you do that, find some French tongue twisters and crack at all your mispronunciation oopsies. But don’t get too self-conscious about them — tongue twisters are tricky, even for native speakers!
9. Watch Shows and Listen to Podcasts in French
Netflix, chill and learn. If you haven’t seen Braqueurs, now is the time to do it. Shows and movies in French can help with your accent, and more so if they’re exciting. Podcasts are also worth considering, and if you need extra help, engage a vendor to translate French audio to English. Doing this can be handy if you want to consume audio content at your own pace.
10. Don’t Be Self-Conscious About Your Accent
Finally, don’t get into the habit of frowning at your imperfections. You’re an aspiring Francophone, meaning you were bold enough to try and comprehend the complex structure of this challenging language. That in itself is awe-worthy, so there’s no need to get all cranky for some very expected mistakes. Remember, you’re a titan. While you may be chasing that whirring R in your throat right now, you will surely catch it soon.
Tu Peux Le Faire!
Absolutely! All you have to do is try and try some more later. Just stick with your goals like Asterix stuck with Obelix, and you’ll begin to see some progress. And remember, taking a break here and there is always an option. Giving up is not, though.