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French pronunciation lesson 3

Two choices for this French pronunciation lesson:
  • You can listen to the lesson by downloading this mp3 recording: French pronunciation lesson #3
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  • or you can just read the lesson. (Of course, this being a pronunciation lesson, you're better off listening to the examples.

My next French pronunciation tip is... keep your mouth almost closed when you speak French. Try this: compare the English and the French pronunciations of the word, “perfection.” First say it in English a couple of times; perfection.... perfection.

Now close your mouth almost completely and pronounce the French version, perfection. Keep that tongue tip down. Per... that R should come from back in the throat... per... fec... tion. Per... fec... tion. Perfection.

Do you see that your mouth doesn’t have to be open very far? Just slightly. Perfection. However, your tongue and cheeks need to do more work than they do when you pronounce words in English.

Now let’s do another comparison. Say the word really again. Say it a couple of times, really... really...

Now, even though it might sound silly, pronounce that as a French person would if they had never heard it pronounced in English. Close your mouth, put the tip of your tongue down and say this, “rea... ly... rea... lly... Now I’m pronouncing that R in the back of my throat; I’m pushing the R forward with the back of my tongue. To make the L, my tongue has to pop up, but it stays forward. Actually, when I say, “rea..” and then I’m about to make the L, my tongue is touching the inside of my top teeth and the front of the tongue is flat against that part of the roof of my mouth that is horizontal right behind the top teeth. Rea... lly. So when I pronounce the L, just before I bring my tongue back down, I can feel it touching the inside of my top row of teeth. Rea... lly... Do you notice that you can pronounce that without opening your mouth? Really. But your lips have to be pulled way back to pronounce that work, don’t they? You’re not quite smiling, but your lips are pulled back a bit.

The next French pronunciation recording is going to encourage you to make different movements, to experiment with the oral gymnastics that it takes to make French easy to pronounce.

French pronunciation is easy once you have the correct mouth position, once you are doing the right things with your tongue and lips.

The next recording gives you my two guiding principles for improving your French pronunciation. Go on to French Pronuciation Lesson 4.