French listening quiz – Saint Jacques de Compostelle Exercise 7

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15 thoughts on “French listening quiz – Saint Jacques de Compostelle Exercise 7”

  1. Hello David. Just getting around to this one that had been sitting in my inbox. I did not get the “à un” after a few listenings, but I knew I was missing something. The first time, I caught the “à”, but then I knew there was something nasal, so I tried (in my mind) “un”, but that didn’t quite fit. My third and final guess was “en” — also wrong, and I still felt like I was missing something. (When I tried to say any of my solutions — either in my mind or out loud — I knew they were not quite right, but I still wasn’t able to “lock on” to something that felt right. At least part of the problem was not knowing the expression “moment donné”; I was hearing it as something like “moment given to history”, and that didn’t make sense, so I didn’t have a good context. After you explained the context and gave the solution, it was easy to hear the sounds correctly without trouble. It’s almost like “how could I have missed that the first time?” I suspect the real answer is a combination of hearing the phonemes and knowing what to expect in context. Thanks, Ray

    1. Hi Ray,
      This comment is very helpful. Thank you for telling me what you heard and how you worked through the decoding part. I agree that part of the problem was not knowing the expression à un moment donné. I am working on some new types of quizzes to help you know what to expect so that you have a better chance of hearing the correct words the first time.
      Best regards,

  2. The word I did not hear clearly was “dits”. I heard the sound but not clearly enough to be sure of the word

  3. Hi David,

    This is another great exercise in listening. I too missed the à until I knew it should be there. It then made perfect sense.
    The speaker is otherwise very clear, and speaks more slowly than on the Tanguy recording.

    Sharon Barrett Ewing

    1. Hi Sharon,
      yes, I agree: she speaks much more clearly. It sounds as if you heard all of the other words right away and then figured out that the à had to be there. Congratulations!
      Best regards,

  4. Hi David,
    I hear something between qui and moment, but not “a un”.
    I ‘expect’ a un, but cannot hear the “un” at all, despite knowing it should be there.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks for writing. In order to hear the à un, try this trick used by music transcribers when they are faced with a difficult passage: make the sound stop right after the difficult passage so that you hear silence after that bit of sound. During the silence, you can think about the sound you just heard.

      Here is how to get the silence right after the “difficult sound:” let the sound play and then hit the space bar right before the word qui. Hitting the space bar stops the sound. Then, to play the half-second you need to hear, click the space bar once more and then again right away, which will stop the sound again. This give you silence right after the difficult sound. You’ll be able to think about the sound you just heard.

      The next trick makes sense if you remember three things:

      • The French person is not speaking for you but is instead speaking for other native speakers and therefore making the ‘minimum understandable sound’
      • à un moment donné is a common expression that is heard/understood as a chunk of sound, so the à un can be spoken quickly without impacting comprehension
      • However, the à un IS PRESENT in the sound. It still needs to be there in order for the native listener to make perfect sense of the sentence. And 100% of native listeners would have easily heard the à un: there’s no question about it.
      • So, instead of wondering if the à un is really there, you need to LOOK FOR the sound. You need to FIND it by playing it repeatedly, listening for any variation or gliding from one sound to another. Often, the word or sound you don’t hear will be stuck to the end of the previous word or stuck to the beginning of the following word.

        What you are doing here is training your ear to pay closer attention to sounds that you didn’t hear growing up and learning what à un sounds like when glued to the m at the beginning of moment.

        Once you have finally heard it, you’ll be able to recognize it more easily the next time you hear it.
        I temper all of this by asking you to only get to 80% comprehension before moving on because, when you are still a beginner or intermediate listener, it is possible to spend too long on particular sounds. Remember that your ear will improve over time. If, after 10 or 15 listens, you still don’t hear the à un today, come back to this recording after another few weeks of listening and I bet you will hear it.
        Best regards,

  5. It’s amazing how much the ears miss. I came close. This was a bit more difficult. I missed the “à” sound before “un”. Thank you David for this ear training lesson!

  6. Bonjour David
    I missed the “à ” but heard “qui … un moment donné de”
    I am taking French at USC (University of SC) in Columbia. For the fall semester my French course will be entirely based on actual French TV news broadcasts, no subtitles. The videos used are the current news broadcasts so the course changes every time it is taught. Each student is assigned two videos for an oral presentation and you never know what you will get until it is assigned. Everyone watches all the vidoes and has to do a listening journal where we have to watch each video 3 times, writing everything we hear with the goal of understanding more each time. Videos, movies, radio are hardest for me. I will be taking the course again for the second time for more practice. I watch the videos more than 3 times and try to phonetically seacrch on line for words based on sounds I think I hear, somethimes even finding the right word. It is quite a challenge but really motivates me to get involved. The professor is French and she is one of my favorite instructors.


    1. Hello Michael,
      Well then, you got very close! Thanks for letting me know about the course at USC. It sounds great! I would have loved to have such a course when I was back in school. If you can get to where you understand French news, then you’ll have a life-long “open door” to the French culture. And you won’t even have to “work” to maintain that link to the culture: instead, you can just turn on the news and listen for 20 minutes! Very cool.
      Thanks for sharing Michael.
      Best regards,

  7. Dear David–this was a thrillingly challenging exercise. I got the words all wrong (on my 4th listening try, too!) but once I hit ‘Check’ the sounds fell right into place auditorily, like a charm. I like this exercise very much. Thank you for this. –Suzanne

    (ps–I heard “qui, a un Romain…” pretty crazy, yes??)
    (ps #2–we have friends that are on the route of Saint Jacques de Compostelle right now, so this exercise choice was especially meaningful…what was it extracted from?)

    1. Hello Suzanne,
      Thank you for letting me know you that you enjoyed the exercise. If you heard the “à” and the “un,” you are already doing well, as it takes a lot of listening to know what those sound like when spoken close together. This is from an interview one of our reporters did a few years back. I will have more excerpts from this interview in future quizzes like this. I hope your friends enjoy their walk. One of my uncles did a 10-day walk on the trail in Northern Spain last year and raved about the experience.
      Best regards,

  8. Hi David,

    I did not hear the following words in Sanit Jacques de Compostelle Exercise 7: à, un, donné, and de.

    I missed too many!

    Thanks for the exercise,


    1. Hi Deborah,
      You are welcome for the exercise. Thank you for telling me which words were difficult. I will put a lesson up later this week to help you hear the different words.
      Best regards,

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