How do you improve your pronunciation?

I’m learning French. Among other things about the language, I love the sound of French and I would like to reach sufficient skill that, as Steve Kaufmann suggests, I don’t annoy native speakers.

There seems to be a long way to go. I do much listening/repeating/shadowing as I work on text in LingQ sentence mode. I’ve started working with YouTube videos. It occurs to me to buy a French pronunciation course, but I suspect I would likely be disappointed.

I have no idea what it would be like to learn to pronounce languages like Chinese or Japanese.

What do you do?

Everybody is different, but I personally take the analytical approach and look up for phonenic transcriptions for words (wiktionary is great for this).

Of course, you need to the learn the international phonetic alphabet first, but really, once you’ve figured the principles behind phonology and both how and where human sounds are made, it really helps your master the pronunciation of any foreign language tremendously.

For French specifically, you’re probably aware of this already, but perhaps the most important single thing is to master the guttural ‘r’ (technically an ‘voice uvular fricative’ btw) of standard French.

Another tip for French generally, is that the vowels of French are all generally very short, with only minimal syllable stress.


I’m enough of a nut that I am learning the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) for French.

I do wonder if someone less perfectionist need go this far. However, I find it interesting. So I am.

I can roll a French R these days, I am sure imperfectly.

What kills me is the French double-L

I was watching Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” which is half in French, and a young woman had indignantly raised her voice to call an older woman (Frances McDormand!) an old maid:

“Vieille fille!”

She sounded like a large insect, “VEEEEEE FEEEEE,” mostly outside my range of hearing.

I would HIGHLY recommend getting the Pimsleur French course. If it’s anything like their Japanese course it’s invaluable for getting your pronunciation right, and easily the single best resource out there when it comes to speaking. It should have dozens of hours worth of speaking practice and also it’s so repetitive that it’s also the single best resource for increasing your active vocabulary (words you can use) vs passive (words that you know.) It’s pricey but it’s worth it, trust me. I’ve done about 3 hours of their Japanese course and I’ve noticed a huge difference as a beginner in the sounds I can make out in the language as well as my pronunciation. Also, if you can’t afford it for whatever reason, you can find older editions of Pimselur on using google to see what it’s like. Just type in “pimselur french”

If/when your vocabulary is good enough, start watching movies and tv shows in french with french subtitles. The key is getting as much vocal comprehensive input as possible and your brain will do the rest. Pimselur should have you covered when it comes to pronunciation, but you’ll probably still have accent though.

Well, I did learn how the alphabet/diphthongs/sounds are created with the movement of the mouth/nose/etc. Then it is just a question of training, like going to the gym.

Try this course:
Sound Like a Native - French Pronunciation Full Course (HD) by Anne Le Grande

Then, when you read out loud by yourself, remember to read sloooooow and artiiiiiicuuuuulaaaaate. I’m a believer of articulating a lot.
You will learn to train your various facial muscles, especially those around the mouth and step by step you will catch up speed. It is not very difficult, just a bit of patience, training and consistency.

I remember, when I was in France, that I used to train a lot in front of the mirror to get the “u” right. At the beginning it was painful!

Allez! Au travail! :grin:

I started out by shadowing in sentence mode but wanted to drill down further.

I did this for Italian. I found a native Youtube teacher who speaks very clearly. I found one of their videos saying short words (I chose a vid of them listing vegetables). I then used YT clip function to shorten these words to single vowel sounds and saved these. Now, I just listen to these saved clips to practice my vowels.

Also, most of the time when listening to whole videos, I listen for comprehension. But, at the end I have one listen with my eyes closed just focusing purely on sound.