French Pronunciation Guide for Oral Exams

The correct pronunciation is worth 20 marks of your oral mark- be prepared!

According to the Chief Examiner Report the most common problems are:

  • Not distinguishing the difference between je / j’ai and il / elle . • Pronouncing the last consonant or syllable, e.g. ans, dans, et, pied, temps, beaucoup.
  • Pronouncing the -ent ending of the third person plural. • Pronouncing adjectives always as though in the feminine form, e.g. content.
  • Confusion of aîné / âne; collège / collage; deux / douze; cours / courses. • Mispronunciation of school subjects, e.g. français, chimie, biologie.
  • Soleil, pareil, pronounced like travail. • Not making correct liaison, e.g. mes amis.
  • Mispronunciation of common words: sœur, piscine, banlieue, famille. • No effort to pronounce the French [r].  • Failure to distinguish between the [u] and [y] sounds e.g. vous / vu, etc

 

The letters “oi”- give a “wa” sound- “oiseau” (bird) is pronounced “waso.”

The letters “eau” and “au” give an “o” sound- “eau” (water) is pronounced “o.”

The letters “ou” give an “oo” sound- “vous” is pronounced like “voo.”

The letters “ui” are pronounced like “we”- “huit” (eight) is pronounced like “weet.”

The letters “ch” are pronounced as “sh”- “chaud” (hot) is pronounced “sho.”

The letters “qu” are pronounced like “k”- “quatre” is prounced like “katr.”

The letter “ç” is pronounced with an “s” sound- “ca va” is pronounced “sa va.”

The letter “h” is never pronounced in French- “un hotel” is pronounced as “un otel.”

The final “e” in a word is usually silent- “regarde” is pronounced “regard.”

The letters “en” are pronounced as “awn”- “enfant” is pronounced “awnfawn”

The letters “ent” are silent at the end of verbs- “ils mangent” is pronounced as “eel mawng.”

The letters “ill” or “ille” are usually pronounced as “ee”- “famille” (family) sounds like “fameeee.”

However, the words “ville” and “tranquille” have an “eel” sound- “veel”, “trawnkeel.”

The letters “er” and “é” give an “ay” sound- “manger” (to eat) is pronounced as “mawnjay.”

 

Final consonants are usually silent, apart from “c”, “f” and “l.” “Choc” (shock) is pronounced as “shok.”

Liasions: When a French word ends with a vowel and precedes a word beginning with a vowel or a “h”, we use the final constanant in the word to make a sound.

Examples: “Les amis” is pronounced as “les amee.”- “les” is usually pronounced as “lay.”

Find tips to avoid the most common oral exam errors here!

The website http://www.ttsreader.com is really useful for ensuring the correct pronunciation.

Bon courage 🙂

 

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