My advice for (busy) adults just getting started with listening
If fluency were a 3-month sprint, I’d talk to you about getting serious and grinding through verb conjugation exercises. But fluency is not a 3-month sprint. Instead, it’s an 18- to 24-month endeavor, like training to run your first marathon.
So: every day should be an easy day. Don’t burn yourself out doing things that are not fun, such as memorizing verb forms.
Download interviews from the member’s area into your phone and listen when you can during the day.
For the words you cannot catch, come back to the member’s area and use the tools:
look at the transcript/translation (It’s not cheating! :-))
play the slowed-down version of the sound
use the loop feature of the player to repeat short snippets that are hard to catch
listen and repeat the slow-echoing versions for interviews that have those versions available
Listen when you can during the day until you hear 80% of the words
Each time you listen, you’ll catch new words you didn’t hear on previous listens.
Give yourself 2 to 4 weeks per interview, listening during your daily walk or while doing housework
When you can catch 80% of the words, the choice is up to you: keep listening to get over 80%… or move on to a new interview!
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Limber up your ears and your lips: we’re going to do some French Oral Gymnastics!
Today, you’ll practice saying the French words for, “did you expect that to happen?” (Update: here is another example of the same expression.)
Please repeat after the speakers 8 times.
You see two examples of vous. Listen to hear the Z sound at the end of both vous. Without this vowel sound, a fast speaker could run the ou of vous and the ê of êtes together. Then, your ear might think it is hearing one syllable instead of two separate syllables.
Again, you see two vous in this line; but here, only the second one has the Z sound. The first vous is followed by a consonant: no chance of getting confused and thinking that you hear one syllable instead of two. The second vous is followed by a vowel. So that the ou and the following a don’t run together and trick the ear into thinking it is hearing a single syllable, we need a liason to break them apart so that you hear both distinctly.
When you pronounce dépité, makes sure that you pronounce that i as eee. (As an English speaker, you are going to tend to pronounce that i like the i in the English word ‘hit.’ But don’t worry: this is not one of those pronunciation mistakes that will cause a French person to misunderstand you.)
Here, you have On twice; but they are pronounced differently. Do you hear the difference? The first On ends with a nasal sound; but the second On has that nasal sound and then a noticeable N sound. Notice that, to the ear, it’s actually O+nasal sound……. n’était. So, it almost sounds as if the N is at the beginning of était, right? This pronounced N helps separate the vowel sound of On from the vowel sound of était. So, again, a liaison to avoid having vowel sounds from separate words running together and tricking you into thinking that you are hearing one syllable instead of two.
Notice that the ts at the ends of contents and clients are silent. All you hear is that nasal n sound but no T or S sound.
The eu should not sound like the ou in vous. Instead, it should be that tight, front-of-the mouth U sound.
Ok! Now that you know all of that stuff intellectually, now that you hear those sounds, practice echoing them correctly after the native speakers so that all of that becomes automatic and you don’t have to think about it next time.
For members: the slow echoing recordings can be downloaded so that you can practice echoing them in the car. (Not dangerous because it does not require reading while driving!)
If you don’t know what I mean by ‘echoing,’ here you are: I mean repeating just after the speaker. Instead of saying the words at the same time, you allow a slight delay. You may need to turn the sound up a bit in order to hear the speaker’s voice above your own. Look out for words that are hard to pronounce. When you find one, experiment with moving your tongue and lips in new ways until you find a movement that makes that word easier to pronounce. I find this to be challenging but fun. I hope you enjoy it!
Almost 20 years bringing you these recordings!
Thanks for all of your nice emails over the years.
Hello French learners!
Welcome to this week’s listening comprehension exercise, you have the 3 versions of recordings that members get when they download this interview: original, slooowed-down 25% and what I call ‘pronuniciation focus.’ (To feel it work for you, repeat after the speakers.)
First, read through the transcript/translation.
Scroll back up to the “play button” to play the sound.
Listen for the words you see in the transcript. Listen over and over, until you hear every word – that should take 15 to 20 listens.