7 tips to improve efficiently your French pronunciation skills

As one of the most spoken languages in the world, French deserves a place on your list of languages to master. However, many learners struggle with the French tongue because it requires a greater level of flexibility than their mother tongue. You may need to work hard at efficiently polishing your pronunciation to speak with a solidly good French accent.

It also means not quitting on your dream of speaking French like a native when yet another French speaker fails to understand you.

If you’re aiming to take your French skills to a higher level, then read on the following 7 tips to improve your French pronunciation skills. We will show you innovative ways of speaking more like a local.

Introduction : the benefits of a good accent

  1. Learn how to listen
  2. Break down words
  3. Master your vowels
  4. Mix the vowels with consonants
  5. Immersion and cultural stays
  6. Don’t forget to have fun
  7. Measure your progress
tips pronunciation french

The benefits of a good French accent


Avoiding misunderstandings is not the only reason it’s important to develop a reasonable accent when speaking French. Accent is one of the most important things to master if you want to connect with others French natives.

People naturally gravitate towards others that sound like them. Therefore, a native speaker will be much more likely to talk to if your way of communicating resembles their own.

This has largely been the experience of my students. After a few months or years living in French-speaking countries, they have been able to get rid of the rougher edges of their own accent. As they gradually improve, they notice that new people are more willing to give them time.

Note : this isn’t solely down to improvements in the accent. But this has played a very real part in helping them develop rapport with French natives more easily.

french pronunciation tips

1. Learn how to listen

Before you learn how to speak, you’ll need to learn how to listen. Some sounds can be hard to tell apart when you’re listening. If you’ve watched the movie l’Auberge Espagnole you may remember the funny scene about la fac. It means the university in France (la faculté) but here it has been misinterpreted as ‘la fuck’

So if you can pick up differences when hearing various words, it will be easier to talk about the correct thing ! Listening to French podcasts can greatly help you.

Sometimes a letter can also make a difference, like I explained in a previous post on social media.

working with consonants French

2. Break down words

Next, aiming to pronounce whole words or full sentences perfectly from the beginning may be a little ambitious. You should split each term out into syllables and practice pronouncing each of these individually.

Record yourself and listen to these again and again. Take notes of the sounds you seem to struggle the most. Then, slowly combine all the syllables in the whole word together. In this process, you’ll very likely identify what are the most difficult sounds to reproduce. These will need extra focus in the future.

words french

3. Master your vowels

How to pronounce combined vowels in French

Once you are confident with the different sounds in French, train yourself on the correct pronunciation of vowel sounds.

First, start by pronouncing each of the vowel sounds on their own, repeating them several times over. Then, you can try with groups of two (ai, au, ei, eu, ou,..) or three vowels (eau, oei, aie,..).

  • a + i : une maison (house), faire (to do or to make), jamais (never)
  • a + u : jaune (yellow), pauvre (poor), une gaufre (waffle)
  • a + y : un pays (a country), une abbaye (an abbey), balayer (to sweep)
  • e + u : jeune (young), deux (two), peu (a little bit)
  • e + y  : un poney (poney), asseyez-vous (sit down), volleyeur (volley playeur)
  • o + i : avoir (to have), quoi (what), bonsoir (goodbye)
  • o + u : un chou (a cabbage), fou (crazy), tout (everything)
  • o + y : voyager (to travel), aboyer (to bark), un citoyen (a citizen)
  • a + i + e : (verbs at the 3rd person plural Imparfait) = ils faisaient (they did), ils vendaient (they sold), ils travaillaient (they worked)
  • e + a + u : un bateau (a boat), un manteau (a coat), un chameau (a camel)
  • e + u + i : un écureuil (a squirrel), des feuilles (leaves), un portefeuille (a wallet)
  • o + e + i : un oeil (an eye), capoeira,
  • o + e + u : un coeur (a heart), une soeur (a sister), un boeuf (a cow)
  • o + i + e : une oie (a goose), une proie (a prey)
  • u + e + i : accueillir (to welcome), orgueil (pride), cueillir (to harvest)


master the french vowels

4. Mix the vowels with the consonnants

Later, you can practice combinations of consonants in different positions and then full words (oeil, journal, lapin,..). While this exercise might seem a little strange, it will bring significant improvements in the way you enunciate your words.

I also like to use Gaston the Chameleon for beginners. It will help you memorize the various sounds in French, grouped by color

  • JAUNE : au – eau – o
  • ORANGE : em – en – am -an – aon
  • ROUGE : ou
  • MARRON : om – on
  • VIOLET : e – è – ê – ei – et – ai -ey -ay
  • BLEU : e u – oeu
  • NOIR : oi
  • Vert SAPIN : in – im – ain – aim – ein
  • VERT : é – er – ez
French sounds vowels

5. Immersion accelerates your pronunciation improvements

Connect with local French speakers

The easiest way to train yourself in one accent is by studying or living in a French-speaking country. Of course, we are talking about a Covid-free world, when everyone can visit the country of their choice. Yes, let’s be hopeful about this!

Your accent will naturally start to improve when you :

  • Interact with native speakers
  • get out into the street and listen to how people talk
  • order in French in cafés, restaurant, bakeries and shops
  • create a chat group
  • go to local cinemas with access to unlimited French movies
  • find a group of local friends so you can listen to them all the time
  • familiarise yourself with the sound of the language
Familiarize yourself with French traditions

Furthermore, this is a great way to form a connection with the local culture and society.

Cultural stays and teacher’s home tuition are keys to your success! If you are interested, feel free to drop me an email as I’ll soon be welcoming students near Bordeaux.

If you are in love the French culture, why not combine this passion with immersive classes ? That way, you will be able to imitate the French accent and use their colloquial expressions. Students who want to fit into a given French-speaking environment will eventually be best able to mimic the locals.

However, not everyone will pick up the accent just from holding everyday conversations. If you’re normally good at doing impressions of distinctive accents in your own language then it should be easy. Of all the challenges that you may face, picking up the accent will probably be the least painful.

The process is not so straightforward for everyone who immerses themselves in the language. And sure, most people do not have the luxury to be able to take several months off.

Your French accent will naturally start to improve when you :

  • interact with native speakers
  • get out into the street and listen to how people talk
  • order in French in cafés, restaurant, bakeries and shops
  • go to local cinemas with access to unlimited French movies
  • find a group of local friends so you can listen to them all the time
french immerson
Immerse yourself in French culture at home

To end this chapter, remember that you can also partially replicate an immersion experience even far away from France.

You can improve your pronunciation skills from the comfort of your home by :

  • surrounding yourself in the radio, music, videos and movies from France
  • taking tailored French classes with Zoom or Skype
  • finding language exchange partners via Meet up or Facebook
french village immersion

6. Don't forget to have fun

Should all the above exercises get too serious for you, I also recommended a more enjoyable activity for improving your French accent. Try imitating a French artist or actor who is a native speaker and who you listen to frequently. This is a perfect way to start better mimicking the challenging French accent.

This will this help familiarise you with the change in voice that you’d like to achieve. But it also means that the learning process is more fun. Indeed, you presumably already enjoy listening to whatever sounds that your chosen celebrity produces. You have a great selection of French movie on SBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus. For more inspiration, you can check my selection of Best movies to learn French.

This can also work for karaoke. If you sing along with your favourite French tunes, you should see an improvement in your vocabulary and your accent.

French movie selection SBS

7. Measure your progress

Finally, I would say that accent is a difficult thing to judge for yourself. You may find it hard to know if you’ve improved or not after a few months of practice. True, your progress will be obvious if you can speak French faster and with less effort. But the gradual improvements in your accent are harder to detect. One way to keep track of them is to save your accent practice recordings over time, and refer to them every few weeks or so. You will see instantly how you’ve advanced.

And if you have regular contact with native French speakers through group conversations, you’ll also get feedback. Chances are that we’ll never be able to completely remove all traces of our native accent in French. But it seems to me that a good indicator of success is when you reach a stage that, upon meeting someone new, they can’t immediately place where you’re from. When this happens, it is a victory worth celebrating.

progress in french

These 7 tips are certain to help you perfect your French accent. Communicating with your fellow French friends, colleagues and partners should come more clearly.

Don’t forget to keep up with the other aspects of language learning such as grammar, reading, vocabulary, and speaking. Feel free to browse the blog for more free tips and online resources. And of course, if you ever feel the need to practise on one-on-one or with a small group, I’ll be delighted to have you as a student!

Remember : try not to get too down if you still don’t have your dream French accent. The way you speak reflects who you are and the image you want to project. Even after 14 years overseas, I still have a French-Irish-Australian accent but can speak perfectly French and English. My accent is a memory of my past experiences and I love it !

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