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A good start in French

On this page, you will find information to get a good start in French (pronunciation, rhythm ...)


The alphabet

But what is that for ? To spell your name, to spell the name of a street, to spell the name of a website ... In short, it's very useful.

Here are 2 videos.

The first one is a classic video to associate a letter of the alphabet with a picture  

The second one is a video to understand how to properly pronounce the sounds of the alphabet, the basis of French pronunciation.


The sounds

Now that you know the alphabet, let's study the sounds!

A sound is represented by [  ].

Sometimes a sound has several spellings.

Ex: the sound [a] can have 3 spellings: a / â / à.

Other times, a spelling can have more than one sound.

Ex: o can have the sound [o] and [ɔ].


Some sounds are specific to French. Those are for example the nasal vowels [ɑ̃, ɔ̃,  ɛ̃ , œ̃ , w] They may be difficult to pronounce at first, but don't be discouraged! Little by little, it gets easier.


Here are some basic rules to help you:

  • The consonant at the end of a word is usually silent

Ex: white [blɑ̃], long [lɔ̃]

Exceptions: the letters C, R, F, L that follow a vowel:

Ex: park [park], neuf [node], lake [lak], sea [mɛr]

  • The letter E at the end of a word is always silent.

  • The H is always silent.

To study the different sounds, it's not here !


Combine sounds

In French, words are made up of syllables. The principle is that one  syllable = one sound. Sometimes a word has only one syllable (eg : bar), sometimes a word has several syllables (eg: ami- 2 syllables a - mi).


How to recognize a syllable:

-     A syllable can have only one letter. In this case, the syllable is a simple vowel (a, e, i, o, u, y) or nasal (an, en, un, on, oi ...)

-     A syllable can have two or more letters. In this case, the syllable is made up of a consonant and one or more vowels.


For an explanation in picture, it's here !

For a little exercise on syllables, it's here !

Have the right rhythm!

Each language has its own rhythm. This rhythm creates the song of each language.

To better understand the rhythm of French, watch this video.

Tambour en bois
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