French Phonetics: Listening & Repetition Exercises

Have trouble hearing the difference between les and lait ? How about jeune and jeûne ? Um, yeah, me too. Still can’t say bûche correctly? How many silent letters are there in prompt ? Do you want to cry when you’re forced to pronounce serrurerie ?

Since I’m still on vacation, I’ve been working hard on making a pronunciation tutorial and exercises for French. Thanks to David, I’ve finally got the sound files recorded, edited, and uploaded to go along with the new French Phonetics page. I made two versions of the listening exercises – one in plain ol’ HTML and another with Hot Potatoes – and the repetition exercises have the transcripts available in case you can’t understand what the heck David is saying. (He talks fast sometimes.)

I hope to expand it in the future, but for now I’m already exhausted with just these hundred or so sound files. I love Audacity, but editing sound files is boring de chez boring.

So now, which one is it: les or lait ?

P.S. You can hear my lovely (ha!) Midwestern voice in the stress and intonation sections comparing English to French.

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  • http://unautrejp.blogspot.com/ Justin

    83% WOOT! I am so proud of myself. :-)

    Justins last blog post..Merry Christmas…

  • http://unautrejp.blogspot.com Justin

    83% WOOT! I am so proud of myself. :-)

    Justins last blog post..Merry Christmas…

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com/ Sally

    A fantastic resource – thank you very much, Jennie!

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com Sally

    A fantastic resource – thank you very much, Jennie!

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    I haven’t tried the exercise (my gfriend is watching TV in the same room right now), but I must underline that only in the East (Lorraine, Alsace, etc.) they pronounce “les” and “lait” differently; and “jeune” and “jeûne” have nowadays the same pronunciation (the “different” pronunciation of jeûne is an archaism).

    Davids last blog post..Back in Paris…

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    I haven’t tried the exercise (my gfriend is watching TV in the same room right now), but I must underline that only in the East (Lorraine, Alsace, etc.) they pronounce “les” and “lait” differently; and “jeune” and “jeûne” have nowadays the same pronunciation (the “different” pronunciation of jeûne is an archaism).

    Davids last blog post..Back in Paris…

  • Yvan

    “Serrurie” ? Did you mean “serrurerie” ?

  • Yvan

    “Serrurie” ? Did you mean “serrurerie” ?

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    @Yvan: Thanks! I knew there were more r’s in that word!

    @David: (My) David is from Annecy and he pronounces those words differently. And his father, who’s from Vaucluse, pronounces them differently too. I mostly wanted to include the les/lait difference because it’s hard for Americans to pronounce the short eh sound at the end of a word. Or they don’t know which sound to pronounce, and end up saying pet instead of pays or something else embarrassing. I can’t account for all regional variations, but I want people to be aware of all the vowels in French and their phonological environments.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    @Yvan: Thanks! I knew there were more r’s in that word!

    @David: (My) David is from Annecy and he pronounces those words differently. And his father, who’s from Vaucluse, pronounces them differently too. I mostly wanted to include the les/lait difference because it’s hard for Americans to pronounce the short eh sound at the end of a word. Or they don’t know which sound to pronounce, and end up saying pet instead of pays or something else embarrassing. I can’t account for all regional variations, but I want people to be aware of all the vowels in French and their phonological environments.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com/ Linda

    Once my husband leaves the apartment, I will give these a try. I once thought a little French boy was asking for bread, le pain, when actually he was asking for his stuffed toy rabbit, lapin. Sigh.

    Lindas last blog post..Montmartre Meanderings

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com Linda

    Once my husband leaves the apartment, I will give these a try. I once thought a little French boy was asking for bread, le pain, when actually he was asking for his stuffed toy rabbit, lapin. Sigh.

    Lindas last blog post..Montmartre Meanderings

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com/ Noelia

    Hmm, to my south-western French ear, both “les” and “lait” are pronounced the same way (frankly I don’t hear any difference in the podcast)… When in fact it should be {lé} and {lè}.

    Noelias last blog post..Bruckner Symphonies

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com Noelia

    Hmm, to my south-western French ear, both “les” and “lait” are pronounced the same way (frankly I don’t hear any difference in the podcast)… When in fact it should be {lé} and {lè}.

    Noelias last blog post..Bruckner Symphonies

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com/ Noelia

    ‘cus I’ve had some “French diction” courses while at the conservatoire and my “sunny” accent wasn’t the standard, you know. :-)

    Noelias last blog post..Bruckner Symphonies

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com Noelia

    ‘cus I’ve had some “French diction” courses while at the conservatoire and my “sunny” accent wasn’t the standard, you know. :-)

    Noelias last blog post..Bruckner Symphonies

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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