Using Audacity to Listen, Record and Compare Your Pronunciation

I use the free, open source software Audacity to create and edit sound files for my site, but it can also be used to simply listen to mp3s as well as to record while listening.  This way, you can repeat what is said and compare your pronunciation to the original. Many language students never record themselves speaking and so they never really have a chance to listen to their pronunciation mistakes, much less in direct comparison to native speakers. At the university we used to have a program called LogoLab that allowed students to listen to an audio file, and record their pronunciation in blanks after the native speaker. Then the student could listen to the file once again and compare the native speaker’s pronunciation to their own. Luckily Audacity also allows recording a second track while listening to the first one, but with one little difference – it is still possible to actually talk over the original recording, so you have to try to fit your speech in the blanks.

In Audacity, you just need to choose Edit and Preferences… and check the box before “Play other tracks while recording new one” that is on the Audio I/O tab.  Then after you’ve opened the mp3, you click Record (the pink circle) and the first track (the original mp3) will play while a second track will open for your recording. If there is not enough time between words or phrases in the original mp3, you can click between them to place the vertical line and choose Generate and Silence… and add a few more seconds.  In the picture below, you can see the source audio on top with a word to repeat and the recording underneath with repetitions of the words.

The faster you can repeat the words or phrases, as well as the number of times you can repeat them, is very important in aiding your memory to retain the information. And of course, you should always practice pronouncing out loud, not only to help you remember, but also to help your mouth get used to different movements (such as front rounded vowels) that don’t exist in English.

For the truly nerdy who are interested in the link between phonology and vocabulary acquisition, read up on Baddeley’s Model of Working Memory.

Refocus on French & Languages

I’ve decided it is grand temps that I get organized and focused on learning languages again. I feel as though I’ve been too distracted and/or lazy lately. I haven’t finished nearly as much as I would have liked on my site and I certainly haven’t been studying the way I used to. So to begin, […]

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Polysemy and Homonymy in Beginning Vocabulary Acquisition

Polysemy simply means many meanings, so one word has several definitions and grammatical functions. Homonymy is a related concept broken into two parts: homophones and homographs.  Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, whether or not they are spelled alike. Homographs are words that have the same spelling, but may or may not be […]

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Self-Study is better than Classroom Learning

Even though I want to be a French teacher, I do not want to teach in a traditional classroom. Why? Because students learn best when they are not in the classroom. I feel that the classroom has a very limited role in language learning, and that teachers are mostly responsible for designing quality lessons and […]

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French Dictionary for Non-Native Speakers of French

After skimming (ok, actually reading, because I am that much of a nerd) through my new French dictionary that is designed for non-native speakers, I definitely recommend it for learners of French. It is entirely in French, but it uses simple language to explain the definitions so I think it could be useful for beginners […]

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The Gradual Progression

Being able to understand 99% of what people say in French is a huge accomplishment, I feel. I remember constantly struggling to understand movies or songs in French when I was in college and then trying to understand actual conversations when I first arrived in France. Today I have no problems understanding any of those […]

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Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières & Partners in Health

Please think about donating. My heart goes out to Haiti. I’ve also donated to Partners in Health, the organization created by the amazing Dr. Paul Farmer to help the poor in Haiti receive health care.  You can read about his life and work in Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man […]

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In the end, I still choose France (for now)

Remember that list of reasons why I live in France that I posted a few months ago? Numbers 2, 5, and 8 are really relevant right now. I’ve only worked two days since December 16, and I still have another week off before the second semester starts. The 3 inches of snow we got last […]

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More Snow and More Vacation

Rhône-Alpes is supposed to get more snow on Friday. The forecast says neige forte, and they’re predicting around 6 inches for Chambéry.  Good thing I don’t have to go anywhere and David’s work is only a few blocks away so he can walk. I’m already back on (paid) vacation after two days of phonetics exams […]

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Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Actually, please stop…

Woke up to this: Did not expect that much snow. I could have sworn the forecast just said flurries. I have to give oral exams tomorrow at the university and I have a feeling I’ll need to take the bus. If this van couldn’t get out of its parking spot, my car is doomed. At […]

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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 January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. 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 the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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Buy My French Books

My Say it in French phrasebook and Great French Short Stories dual-language book (both published by Dover Publications) are available at Amazon.com.

The 2nd edition of French Language Tutorial is now available as a PDF book. It has been updated with much more vocabulary, sample sentences, and cultural information, plus extended vocabulary lists, cross-referenced topics, and an alphabetical index.

Visit the Store to buy the PDF e-book for $14.95 or paperback book for $29.95.

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