French Listening Comprehension

Hi everyone…I’ve been studying French for the last 5 months , and I’d say , in general, that I’m not struggling with the language. As a brazilian , I’m able to ‘think and get’ the language naturally, however, when I wanna listen to authentic french, like french youtubers, french movies and so on, I can barely understand what they are saying and it’s so frustrating, because it isn’t a matter of not knowing the words.

Actually , when I listen to podcasts like Français Authentique , there’s no problem , I can understand almost 95% without reading along. So, that’s my question …what could I do to achieve a level where I will be able to understand native french speakers in a normal pace of speech? There are some materials that you know and would help me with this task?

Thanks a lot, and sorry for my English

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One thing I did was use the FrenchLingQ podcasts where they have conversations about a variety of subjects. It’s natural speech, and they talk about a range of subjects. They use mainly the same colloquial phrases and things you will hear youtubers use. I listened to those 3-5 times and read them once or twice (all of them).

You can also transcribe the youtube videos. Helps listening also doing so. Download the Youtube audio, slow it down, and listen to it many times to make a transcript.

I did both of those and when I finished all the PodCasts I felt my level of understanding native speech was a lot higher and it was a lot easier to understand.

Good luck!


Hi, Josem! The best thing you can do about it is just practice & practice & practice listening to quality authentic speech 'cause it is practice that makes perfect. Or start with watching video on youtube, for example. Some cartoons, interesting films, etc. Something that really catches you, the content should be hot for you. What is also crucial is regularity. It is much better to practice listening at least 20 - 30 minutes a day constantly than to do it 3 hours only once a week.

By the way, I am an expert in foreign languages listening practice. I’ve been listening to English for more than 4 years already. That means 30 minutes at least on a daily basis practically without any holidays - for 4 years jesting apart. More than one year of listening to Italian, about half a year of listening to French, two months of listening to German - all in the same way as listening to English.

Now I act as a foreign languages listening coach. My group is small but smart and earnest. We’ve started 2 months ago. That is for free for the participants. They are all Russian. They practice listening English, French, Italian, Spanish, Czech.

If you wish I invite you to join us! We are in a popular social network “V Kontakte”. But I schould say that it is like an exit marathon: you should practice listening at least 30 minutes a day without days off during 1 year (now ten months left) and also you should daily write a report on the fact of your listening. The language I use for instructions is Russian, but I can duplicate them in English for you.

If you are really ready to level up your listening comprehension and agree to the above-described conditions, please let me know!

P.S. “V Kontakte” is a very popular social network that is used not only by Russians but internationally, too. It is like Facebook, but its functional is dramatically cooler. It is quite simple to register there if you’re not yet.

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Thank u very much…I’ll try to do that, and I hope I’ll be successful!

Hi Nadia, thanks for supporting. I’ve already listen to authentic french content, everyday, and more than 1 hour a day. But, I thought it’d be faster,to understand native speakers.


The two things that really helped me with listening comprehension were RTL podcasts and reading with audiobooks. Both of these are meant for native speakers, and in the case of the RTL shows, they’re often fast talking news discussions, laden with political arguments etc. It takes time to understand that style of speech, but if you stick with it, your listening comprehension will improve in leaps and bounds.

Audio books are great because of the various speech styles that must be used to tell a story. Lots of exposure to both formal speech and slang terms, depending on what you’re reading.

Thanks for the tips…I used to read graded books , but I didn’t like it, maybe buying audibooks that are made for french people and with interestings contents, it’ll be more useful.

RTL podcasts have transcripts?

RTL doesn’t have transcripts (that I know of). They’re radio programs that are available in podcast form. I recommend them strictly as listening practice. The lack of transcripts might make it frustrating at first, but by continued listening you’ll be able to understand more and more.

Ok, sounds great…there’s a bunch of RTL podcasts, and I’ve already subscribed to some of them.

Thank u very much

When listening to Français Authentique on YouTube, change the speed from “Normal” to “1.25” and later to “1.50”.
Also when listening to other recordings of authentic French (movies, tv, radio, TED talks, etc) adjust the speed from “Normal” to a slower (less than “1”) speed. When you can control the speed, do so! You may find that (1) the speed makes a difference in your comprehension, and(/or (2) you are listening to content that is spoken in non-standard French, and/or French with lots of region expressions and/or slang, etc.

Choose your input quality/content based on “the French” that you want to initially become fluent in. “The French” on a conversation among close teenage friends might use a French quite different from the French in a Gerard Depardieu film based 5 centuries ago.

In addition to “speed” and choosing “the French” you want to master, I might suggest that when reading in French you do so aloud and that you record your voice. Listen to your recordings of yourself speaking French. Listen at different speeds. Does your French sound like the other French you are listening to? The closer that you can get your output to sound like the output of French speakers you are emulating, or French speakers that you find that you hardly understand at all, the the closer you will be to your goal of understanding French language movies, French language radio, etc

Your question, by the way, has caused me to think about this issue. I appreciate your initiating this thread on the forum.


Thanks TeacherNia…it’s a great advice to adjust the speed.,

You’re welcome, Josem22! Best wishes. :slight_smile:

Oi José! Depois de todas as dicas que já recebeu, acredito que não preciso comentar nada novo. Porém quero reforçar a opinião dos colegas pois sou brasileiro e estudei francês do nível mais básico até agora (tenho um bom nível conversacional).

Algumas dicas:

  1. Selecione qualquer material que tenha um tema que te interesse. Considero uito importante que tenha a transcrição inteira. Escute 1 ou 2 vezes sem ler. Perceba o quanto entendeu. Depois leia o texto e perceba o quanto entendeu. Em seguida, leia mais uma vez, procurando as palavras que você não sabe em um dicionário. Por fim, escute mais 1 ou 2 vezes e perceba o quanto melhorou a sua compreensão. Para melhorar minha compreensão, depois de todo esse processo que descrevi, eu escutava diversas vezes o mesmo áudio, sem ler, de tempos em tempos. Ainda faço isso.

  2. Cadastre-se em algum site de troca de idiomas para conseguir falar com nativos, italki, por exemplo (você precisa ter uma conta no skype). É uma excelente maneira de melhorar a compreensão oral. Fiz muito isso.

  3. Como sugerido, é melhor escutar 30 minutos todos os dias do que escutar 3 ou 4 horas de uma vez só. Claro que quanto mais diariamente. melhor. Costumava escutar no mínimo uma hora por dia, todos os dias, além dos estudos regulares no LingQ.

  4. Receba nativos na sua casa através de sites como couchsurfing ou, ou dependendo onde você mora, participe de encontros de grupos de troca de idiomas como

  5. Observe que sempre escrevi falar com “nativos” e não simplesmente com quem fala o idioma. É claro que essas pessoas terão melhor fluência do idioma.

  6. Não acredito naquelas conversas que para compreender um idioma é preciso somente 3 mil ou 5 mil palavras. Se você quiser realmente entender nativos (e conversar sobre os mais diversos assuntos) terá que ter um vocabulário enorme.

Abraço e bons estudos!

Muito Obrigado , fhaubert… conselhos e dicas são sempre importantes úteis.

Concordo muito com suas colocações, e é muito do que tenho feito nos meus estudos, o problema que tenho enfrentado, é pra dar aquele salto final, de entender conversas bem rápidas entre nativos e coisas do tipo.Talvez esteja me precipitando um pouco, e se continuar nesta toada deve ser questão de tempo para pegar o ritmo de podcasts de política, youtubers, etc.

Agradeço pela ajuda, Abraço!

Bem isso. Continue fazendo. É só uma questão de tempo. O que deu muito resultado para mim é escutar material (conversa entre nativos de preferência) diversas vezes. Sempre com transcrição. Ficava em cima do áudio e depois do texto e depois do áudio novamente. Vai ter conversas que você terá que escutar 20 ou 30 vezes até compreender 95%. Continue firme! Abraço!

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Hi Josem. I am from germany and I fully understand your english. Fine. 1 rose for you. I listen sometimes to “7jours” on Youtube. They have little interviews / discussions on a variety of topics. 6 to 10 minutes long. Normal speed in french, which is very quick. I think we germans have the same problem like the brasiliens, but they have french subtitles, which I find very helpful.
Greetings: Michael Gross

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How do you download Youtube audio?

Type ‘download Youtube audio’ into Google.

A lot of sites do this for you, you have to put the link of the video, and it’s done.

Google it, and you can choose what site you’are going to use.

Exatamente isso, e novamente agradeço o apoio…e se tiver algum conteúdo para indiciar com áudio e transcrição, será muito bem vindo.