French Pronunciation Guide: How to Speak French in 10 Steps

By OptiLingo • 7 minute read

Perfect your French pronunciation with these tricks

Learn All French Pronunciation Rules

The French language sounds beautiful and romantic. But, when you’re learning French, you may find it hard to recreate those gorgeous sounds. Luckily, there are a few different things you can do to improve your French pronunciation. Learn how to practice your pronunciation, manage your accent, and speak French comfortably and fluently. The following exercises will help you sound more like a local.

Psst! Did you know we have a language learning app?

  1. It teaches you useful words and phrases.
  2. Presented in a natural, everyday context.
  3. Spaced out over time, so you absorb your new language organically.
  4. It’s kind of like learning the words to your new favorite song!

You’re only one click away!


1. Master the French Alphabet

If you’re not even sure where to begin perfecting your French pronunciation, the alphabet is a pretty good place to start. The French alphabet has 26 letters. Lucky for you, it’s based on Latin letters, so it’s almost the same as the English alphabet.

There are definitely some French letters which are a little harder to pronounce than others:

  • R: The French “r” is not an easy letter to master. You create it at the back of your tongue, almost in your throat. A satisfying whirring sound signals that you’re on the right track. Give yourself time to perfect the French “r”, because you’ll meet this letter a lot.
  • Mute H: There’s no “h” in the French language. Not in French pronunciation anyway. But, you definitely have to write it. Look out for the mute “h”, because if it’s the first letter of the word, grammatically it’s the same as a vowel.
  • Accent marks: You’ll surely meet all five of the French accents sooner or later. These tiny marks on top of vowels can easily throw even seasoned language learners off. Luckily, their pronunciation is fairly straightforward. Every French accent mark has its specific sound.

Go through the French alphabet, and pronounce each letter separately. This video should help you figure out how individual French letters are pronounced:

2. Listen to the Sounds of French

Before you begin pronouncing French words, take your time listening to the sounds of the language. Notice the rhythm, the flow, and the intonation. This is the best way to learn the rules of French pronunciation naturally. Once you feel like you have a good understanding of the sounds of French, you can start pronouncing the words yourself. If you gave yourself enough time, you’ll find that French pronunciation became much easier.

Babies only start speaking at around 1. That’s because they take their time listening to the language. Although it’s not a conscious effort, their ears are only tuned for the comprehension of language. That’s one of the main reasons they can perfect their native tongues so well. And since you were a baby too, that language learning ability is still in you. Maybe don’t take an entire year listening, but perhaps a week or two. Use it to perfect your French pronunciation.

You can find a lot of free materials online to listen to authentic French. You can tune in to a French podcast, watch a French film, or even listen to some French music. All of these activities help you get closer to perfect French fluency.

Listen to perfect your French pronunciation

3. Start Speaking French ASAP

A lot of language learners take a long time to start to speak French. That’s the worst approach you can do. Don’t waste your time trying to perfect your grammar, or studying useless vocabulary words. If you’re procrastinating your speaking practice with anything other than active listening exercises, you’re wasting your time. Postponing your speaking practice postpones your fluency.

Start speaking from Day 1. Your first lesson should already have ample speaking and pronunciation exercises. How else are you supposed to learn how to speak French? The sooner you start, the more comfortable you’ll be with French. Speaking to locals will be like second nature. Then, you’ll be fully fluent in French.

4. Don’t Worry About Your Accent

If you want to be fluent, but you’re too afraid to speak French out loud, you need to leave your anxiety behind. Learners often worry about messing up their grammar or having a bad French accent. But, none of those things matter. The only thing that matters is your ability to speak fluently. Let grammar take a back seat for a while.

You’ll never achieve fluency if you’re not confident enough to start practicing your pronunciation. If you stop every time you’re unsure about grammar, your speech won’t be fluent. Just glide over the mistakes and come back later if you need to. Even if you mess up or have a bad accent, if your speech is continuous, French locals will understand you. They’ll help you with grammar if you need it.

If you have the option to speak to French locals, always try and speak French to them. They’ll appreciate your enthusiasm and your effort in learning their language. If you truly want your French pronunciation to match theirs, you need to practice with them a lot.

5. Talk to Other French Learners

Of course, not everyone has the luxury to learn how to speak French with a French native. But, there are definitely other French language learners in your area. Find them, and group together for a study session. You can bounce French pronunciation practice off each other.

One quick warning though, don’t concentrate too much on their accent. Chances are, their accent isn’t as good as a French local’s. So, feel free to talk to them, but don’t try to imitate them.

Talking in French is how you learn how to speak the language

6. Sing French Songs

Listening to French songs is great because you can hear the rhythm of the language, and listen to some great tunes at the same time. But, if you want to enhance your accent and your French pronunciation, try singing the lyrics yourself.

Don’t worry about being on key. The purpose of this exercise is to help you practice your French pronunciation. Not to appear as a contestant on X-Factor. If you ever need recommendations, here are some amazing French songs you can sing yourself to fluency with.

7. Record Your French Pronunciation

This is a great language learning trick. Every smartphone nowadays has a built-in recorder. Press the button and record yourself speaking French. When you listen to it again, you can identify the problems in your pronunciation, so you can focus on correcting those more. You can also use these recordings to perfect your French accent.

8. Do French Pronunciation Exercises

You can always practice your French pronunciation with exercises. Reading out loud, memorizing dialogues, and even talking to yourself in French are all useful pronunciation exercises. You can buy a French textbook that guides these lessons, or you can download an app that makes you speak.

French tongue twisters are a great way to get you speaking French in a fun way. Although don’t worry if these are too difficult. Even French natives struggle to say tongue twisters fast.

French pronunciation exercises can help you sing like a bird

9. Practice Your French Pronunciation Often

The equation is simple: more practice = faster fluency. Practice your pronunciation in French as much as you can. Take every opportunity to talk to natives, other learners, or even just to yourself. The more you speak, the more your tongue gets used to the sounds of French.

Ultimately, that’s the best, fastest, and the only way you’ll learn how to speak French. Practice every day to keep your French knowledge fit, and ready for every situation. This builds your confidence and brings you closer to fluency.

10. Use an App That Makes You Speak French

Finally, if you want to make your French pronunciation practice easy, use an app that makes you speak. Typing a language never helped anyone reach fluency. But having guided lesson plans focused on your speaking skills will definitely get you fluent fast. And that’s exactly what OptiLingo offers.

OptiLingo is an app that’s built to make your French pronunciation as smooth as possible. Combining reading, listening, and speaking into one, this method is the best way to learn how to speak French fluently. What’s even better, this app gives you the most common words and phrases in French. So you’ll learn to speak with the same vocabulary as the locals do. Make your French pronunciation exercises even easier by downloading OptiLingo today!