Today’s video title is 4 Great Tips for Easy French Pronunciation, and in case it rings a bell, it’s normal! It actually was French Truly TV’s very first video. And, precisely because it was the first one, the quality wasn’t exactly… fabulous ha!
So I decided to shoot it again and add some useful info to it! I’ve divided this video in 4 points.
First, we’ll explore nasal sounds.
Second, we’ll go through the French vowels focusing on the shape of my face and mouth.
Third, I’ll share with you some French words that are used but mispronounced in English.
Fourth, we’ll reverse the situation and look at English words that we use in French, with our French accent.
Number 1 NASALS
Why are some sounds called nasals you may ask? Because, when you pronounce nasals, you kind of sound like you have a cold! There are 3 nasal sounds in French and many different ways to spell them but right now to keep things simple I will just give you one spelling version for each sound. And to make things even more simple, let’s use some words you already know for sure!
Let’s begin with ON. Look at the shape of my mouth ON it’s round and small and it’s out there. A word you know that has the nasal sound ON is bonjour!
Let’s continue with the nasal sound IN. Look at the shape of my mouth IN it’s open and horizontal, a straight line. A word you know that has the nasal sound IN is vin!
Let’s end with our third and last nasal sound AN. Look at the shape of my mouth AN it’s round and open. A word you know that has the nasal sound AN is France!
That’s it for nasals, let’s move on to…
Number 2 VOWELS
A life time ago, when I lived in Northern England, I worked with an English girl who spoke fluent French and who, always very kindly, made fun of French people for speaking with their mouths out there. I remember telling her “Oh come on we don’t do that! You’re exaggerating!” Still, I paid attention to it afterwards and… turns out she was right! So, mon ami(e), if you want to speak French properly with a great pronunciation, pay attention to the shape of your mouth because without it the words can’t come out properly. It’s as simple as that!
Ok, let’s go through a few vowel sounds and please remember there are a lot more vowel sounds in French than in English.
Mousse au chocolat
If you struggle to pronounce or even just to hear the difference between these last 2 vowel sounds OU & U, I invite you to watch another video I made just on these 2 sounds. Here it is:
In case you haven’t noticed yet, in order to prepare the shape of your mouth for the vowel sound you wish to make, you need to start with the consonant. In order words, It’s with your first letter N that your mouth goes out. N by itself can be flat. But when followed by a vowel sound like in noir, you must begin out there!
Here you have 3 vowels that sound like one and that is the letter O. Bordeaux… Maybe you’ve visited the city? Maybe you love the wine?
As in beurre (butter) or as in deux (two)
And let’s finish on a little review of the nasals which are vowel sounds:
That’s it for the vowel sound, let’s now move on to…
Number 3 FRENCH WORDS USED IN ENGLISH
So, you already know these words because they are used on a day to day basis in English. But, do you pronounce them properly?
Cul de sac
Cul means ass… I don’t mean to sound vulgar but that’s what it means, and sac means bag so you can visualize the bottom of a bag, you can’t go any further!
Literally means wrong step or you could visualize taking a step in the wrong direction. You know when you say something you really shouldn’t have said or when you do something you really shouldn’t have done? That’s un faux pas!
Tête à tête
Literally head to head simply means a one on one meeting.
Pain au chocolat
And the last one is pain au chocolat pain has the in kind of nasal sound. Even though it is spelt differently, it is the same nasal sound you find in vin, our earlier example.
And then chocolat… don’t pronounce the t!
Un pain au chocolat is like un croissant in a rectangular shape with a bar (or two if you’re extra lucky!) of chocolate going through it.
J’aime les pains au chocolat! J’adore les pains au chocolat!
I gave up sugar about a year ago and I have to admit I miss those: Les pains au chocolat me manquent!
On this yummy note, let’s finish with our…
Number 4 ENGLISH WORDS USED IN FRENCH
These are clearly easy since you obviously already know them plus they’re fun because, basically, to make them sound good, you need to put on your most outrageous French accent!
un best seller
There are so many of them! This is called anglicisme, or using English words in our French language.
One anglicisme we do not have, and I tell you because many people understandably make that mistake…
… computer. We don’t say computer but ordinateur.
Ok so remember our four points today?
First we looked at nasal sounds and then at vowel sounds. For both these points we also focused on the shape of our mouth and face for these sounds to come out properly. Third, we corrected the pronunciation of some of the French words that are used in English and to finish, I shared with you some English words that we used in our every day French.
Anything you’d add this list? There are plenty more so go for it!
Hello there, how can I contact with you??
How would you say these english words with a French accent? I’m having trouble pronouncing them correctly.
i LOVE YOUR WEBSITE.
A very interesting blog indeed for all French learners. The greatest challenge of learning a foreign language is learning the right pronunciation. You have shared many unique tips to get a grasp on the pronunciation style for French. These tips are sure to help new learners grasp the language better.
For English speakers to groove the ou vs u sound, I suggest the words Hugh and who…those two force the mouth shapes necessary for the French vowels.
What about the nasal sound “un”? How do you teach people to form their mouth for that sound?