8 Best French Pronunciation Dictionaries (Tested and Reviewed)
As it turns out, learning a new language properly is all about making use of a really great dictionary.
What else can you do when you encounter strange new words and grammar patterns?
With new accents and pronunciation-related markings to deal with, however, sometimes it’s worth it to hear that new word before you actually make use of it.
So, if you really want to perfect your French pronunciation skills—or at least ensure that you’re not fumbling with any of your newly-learned words—you might want to turn to an audio dictionary.
In this post, we’ve tested and reviewed the eight best French pronunciation dictionaries, so you don’t have to.
- 1. Best Overall: Forvo
- 2. Best Video-based Resource: FluentU
- 3. Best for Most Used Words and Phrases: ThoughtCo
- 4. Best Grammar-focused Pronunciation Tool: Larousse
- 5. Best Vocabulary Definitions: BabLa
- 6. Best Audio/Visual Pronunciation Guide: Audio French
- 7. Best Crowdsourced Pronunciation: HowToPronounce
- 8. Best Phonetic Transcriptions: EasyPronunciation
1. Best Overall: Forvo
You’re not limited to certain words with Forvo. Here, you can search for any word in the language, or you can browse themed sets of words such as “greetings and apologies, “everyday phrases,” “drinks,” “banking” and many more.
- Regulated by the Académie française. When something related to the Francophone language world is regulated by the French Academy, you know you’re getting reliable and accurate French language information. This means that you’ll never again be caught out by uttering an incorrect pronunciation. What a faux pas (an embarrassing social mistake)!
- Links to native French audio files. There’s no replacement for hearing words and phrases pronounced by native French speakers. They know the language the best, so when you’re unsure about pronunciation, choose these audio clips.
2. Best Video-based Resource: FluentU
The language learning program FluentU is great for hearing native French speakers in authentic videos, like commercials, news reports and music videos. It also has this handy feature: A video dictionary that lets you hear the language in context and how it’s really spoken “on the ground.”
- Large video dictionary.
You can look up any word or phrase in the video dictionary to find videos in which this term appears—as well as an audio pronunciation, definition, grammar tips and example sentences.
You can also see this information by clicking on the interactive subtitles while watching videos. Then you have the option to add words to personalized vocabulary lists for future reference.
- Vocabulary is presented in context. Learning words and hearing pronunciation in context is very effective for learners, because you hear how a word’s placement affects the way it’s spoken aloud by native French speakers. In this video dictionary, you’ll also hear a wide array of speakers with varying accents and speaking styles. Plus, videos are fun to watch.
3. Best for Most Used Words and Phrases: ThoughtCo
If you’re on the hunt for an audio dictionary with real gusto, then ThoughtCo has you well covered.
- Over 2,000 entries with accompanying sound files.
The website’s archive has the details of more than 2,000 French words, all with accompanying audio files. If you want to run through the entire thing, taking on a new list each week, you’ll be well on the way to mastering the language.
- Words are ordered according to category.
When you’re setting yourself up with new vocabulary lists, it can be hard to know where to start. Particularly if you’re a beginner, categorizing your lessons can help you to understand how everything is related and to stay motivated. Here, vocabulary lists are ordered according to category, meaning that if you’re focusing on a particular subject during the week, you can make the dictionary a part of your lesson.
4. Best Grammar-focused Pronunciation Tool: Larousse
Audio dictionaries can be a great way of improving your French in general and if you’re on the hunt for something more technical, then Larousse is the way to go.
- Links to written examples in sentences.
As well as listing French vocabulary alongside audio files, the site connects to written examples of how to use new vocabulary. You can practice your French pronunciation and writing skills at the same time, and even try out the new word in conversation.
- Lists the type and gender of the word.
Depending on its gender, a French word might be spoken and presented in a written sentence in completely different ways. While teaching you how a word should sound, Larousse will also help you to define its gender, and how it should be accurately used in a sentence.
- Shows you how to conjugate the word correctly.
This audio dictionary has you covered in this area, too. After getting to grips with the pronunciation and meaning, you can also learn how to accurately conjugate and use the new word in a conversation.
5. Best Vocabulary Definitions: BabLa
The best way in which to get used to new terms is to see how they might be used in real conversations or written passages. BabLa connects all of its audio explanations to written examples of the words.
- Links to native French audio files.
If you want to really perfect your accent and get used to listening in French, there’s nothing better than hearing a French person speaking out loud.
- Lists differences in translation and methods of use.
How a word might be used can vary depending on the context and understanding the subtle differences that might take place can serve you well down the line. BabLa will provide you with a word’s multiple meanings and how they might be used in a sentence.
6. Best Audio/Visual Pronunciation Guide: Audio French
Having a varied arsenal of words on hand can improve your ability to hold a conversation massively. Audio French will not only help you to commit a whole range of different words to memory but will also run you through exactly how to pronounce them.
- Accompanies all recorded clips with written help.
While audio clips are a great way of getting on top of new words and spoken French, it can also be useful to understand how and when to use the new vocabulary. The audio dictionary combines all of the recorded clips with written explanations and details, giving you all of the information about how to use a word in a sentence.
- Links to word videos to help you use the vocabulary.
Of course, if you’re taking on new vocabulary, it’s likely that you’ll want to hear it in action. Audio French contains a great deal of supplementary material which will really help you to use the vocabulary like a native. Watching the word videos, you can hear the language being spoken aloud and used correctly.
7. Best Crowdsourced Pronunciation: HowToPronounce
This easy to use French pronunciation guide is well designed and highlights crowd sourced audio files, so you can usually hear a few different versions of each word or phrase, spoken by both male and female speakers.
- Wide variety of accents, genders and speaking styles. You’ll never be limited to the Parisian accent on this audio dictionary. Because the results are crowd sourced, you have a wide selection of regional accents from Lyonnaise to Montreal for most words.
- Links to real speakers—both native and French learners like you. Sometimes it’s helpful to hear audio from other learners. They tend to speak more slowly and often have clearer pronunciation because they’re still getting the words down like you. This is one of this site’s clear advantages.
8. Best Phonetic Transcriptions: EasyPronunciation
This simple, easy to use website features a French phonetic transcription translator and pronunciation dictionary.
- Pronunciation transcriptions and IPA symbols are provided. Unlike the other resources here, this site provides you with syllable-by-syllable pronunciation transcriptions, so if you’re having a hard time hearing a word, you can read the transcription as you listen to the audio file. There’s also International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols for those who like those.
- You can choose speakers and speaking speed. Sometimes you just want to hear a woman’s voice, and sometimes a man’s. And you definitely want to be able to slow down the speaker. This site gives you those options, with an easy to use user interface, and accurate native speaker audio files.
As you can see, using an audio dictionary can really set you apart from the rest.
Not only do they enable you to practice how you might say a word out loud, but they will also show you the different ways any word might be used in a conversation.
Adding an extra element to your word reference guides can help you to advance in leaps and bounds, and pretty soon you might have mastered more French words than you ever realized was possible—and you’ll be pronouncing them correctly!