Je ne comprends pas! How To Improve Your French Accent
Often, one of the main aspects of language learning that many adults struggle with is perfecting the dreaded accent. As adults we are usually better at language learning than children (due to our approach and study ethic), but children can usually master an accent with ease while we’re left feeling like no one can understand us when we speak in a foreign tongue. The French accent is one in particular that many of us would love to conquer. It is charming, beautiful, and easy on the ears, but, for non-native speakers, brutal for the tongue. Although you may never achieve the ability to talk in French like a native speaker, there are many things you can do to improve your French accent and bring your language level up in the process. As always, we are here to save the day with some awesome tips to help you do just that. So read on and get started working on that accent today!
Put away your pride.
We’ve all had those moments: you’re sitting in a café somewhere – palms sweaty, heart beating like there’s a terrified goat jumping around on your chest – as you mentally rehearse how you plan to order in French. The moment comes, you proudly put your French to use, only to have the waiter ask you in English to repeat your order. Most of us tend to take this sort of thing personally. We think our French is unintelligible and give up speaking and practicing as a result. The important thing to remember though, is that it’s not personal. Put away your darn pride and listen up. Most of the time when someone refuses to communicate with you in French, it’s not you, it’s them. I know we’ve all heard that break-up line before, but in this case it proves true. A French speaker communicating with you in English is not doing so as a personal affront; most of the time they are doing exactly what you are, trying to practice their English. Since practice, practice, practice is a huge part of improving your French accent, you will need to politely request that said person, whether it’s a waiter, a friend, or a colleague, talk to you in French. Skew the conversation in your favor so you have a chance to try out your French accent too!
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Give your tongue a twist.
One of the absolute best, time-tested ways of improving your French accent is through tongue-twisters. Think about it this way: tongue-twisters are purposely difficult so that even native speakers have a hard time saying them. If you manage to conquer a few, the speed at which you talk, and your accent, will improve substantially. Before you dive in though, make sure you ask a native French speaker to say them for you so that you are pronouncing each word correctly. You can do this by either watching videos or by having your language exchange partner or French friend do it for you. Then start practicing every day! Start out slow, then speed things up as you get better and better at them. Not sure where to start? Here are 5 awesome French tongue twisters which will surely have you tied in knots in no time.
Listen and learn.
Listening is a big part of language learning, whether you’re using music, audio books, or radio shows to stretch your grammar and vocab skills. When it comes to perfecting your French accent, doing a lot of listening is paramount. Believe it or not, even when you speak English (which I’m assuming is your native language) you have an accent. Your manner of speaking may sound very clear and obvious to you, but a non-native speaker might find it too thick to even understand. The same goes for French speakers. This is why listening is so important. You need to listen to a wide variety of accents. These vary whether people hail from the north of France, the south, and so on. Start training your mind to be able to pick out the different accents and your comprehension skills will vastly improve.
But, at the end of the day choose just one. Will you be working in Paris? Then pay attention to your Parisian friends’ accents and try to copy them. Are you moving to the south of France? Then get your hands on some movies based there so you can listen to the accent and internalize it. Then, as we said with our first tip, practice, practice, practice!
What’s your tried-and-true method of improving your accent? Share your tips in the comments section!