There’s nothing like French literature to spark learning the language.
In fact, it’s kind of the ultimate twofer.
Learners can use the rich French literary tradition to learn about language and culture in one fell swoop.
Talk about bang for your buck!
But whole novels can be intimidating for beginners and even intermediates.
Besides, even assuming you know your Baudelaires from your Zolas, you probably don’t always have time to curl up with a good book, let alone learn French from one!
That’s where the mighty short story comes in.
A short story can pack a punch in 20 minutes or less. If you don’t know where to start with French reading, it can be a great springboard.
And while we’re on the subject of stories, today we’re going to talk about another kind of twofer: French audio stories.
Combining audio with text can be a great way to kill two birds with one sto…ry, and it may just be the future of language learning.
You don’t have to go full-fledged with audiobooks, though: There are plenty of short French audio stories with text available online, and in this post, we’ll take a peek at some of them.
But first, why else should you go digital when it comes to French stories?
Why Get Your French Stories Online and with Audio?
Many online audio stories combine great learning features
Online French audio stories are really wonderful learning tools. They often combine helpful learning features, such as audio, video, text and translations. Many of these stories can easily be found on YouTube or other sites and are presented with both audio and text.
Since many of them also come with translations, there’s often no need to root through a big, text-heavy dictionary when you don’t understand something!
While especially helpful for beginners, the features mentioned above make audio stories great tools for learners of any level. Many audio stories present text in real time alongside a recording, enabling you to listen along while you read through.
Learning like this is beneficial in countless ways. For one thing, you’ll be able to get to grips with pronunciation of new words and perfect your French accent. It’s also much more likely that you’ll retain new vocabulary and sentences if you’ve heard and read them at the same time.
Of course, if you’re in the market for the best in multi-feature language learning content, FluentU takes things a step further.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the French language and culture over time. You’ll learn French as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with FluentU's adaptive quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning and play the mini-games found in the dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
As you study, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a 100% personalized experience.
It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
They can be accessed on the go
The beauty of online material is that it doesn’t require you to lug an armful of books wherever you might be going. Accessing stories on your laptop or tablet makes filling in gaps in your day really simple, and before you know it, you’ll be reading and listening to French all the time!
You can load up on a stack of stories and make your way through them at your own pace. Spending your daily commute in the presence of a great French story will get your brain whirring and make the language feel more accessible.
So if you ever find yourself with a little time to spare, load up an audio story and brush up on your French!
6 Online French Audio Stories to Spark Your Learning and Interest
1. “My Dog”
Although the content might seem a little simplistic, children’s short stories are a really great way to go if you’re a beginner, and will teach you essential French rules.
“My Dog” combines French and English for those who are just starting out, showing you the original French with the English translation underneath. Beginning French reading in this way will massively boost your confidence and make French sentence structures a little clearer.
“My Dog” is also presented using a combination of clear audio and simplistic text, and can be completed in a very short time. If you’re just beginning to read in French, taking the process slowly will help you get the basics under your belt before you move on to more complex things.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate learner and are interested in similar French stories, this channel, A Green Mouse, has lots of other videos for you to check out.
2. “The Greatest Treasure”
More complex than “A New Puppy,” “The Greatest Treasure” is presented entirely in French with accompanying audio. While there are no English translations in the text, the narrative is easy to follow, is spoken in very slow French and will really help to boost your accent!
This tale is presented in the passé simple and follows a young boy as he makes his way through a forest with a treasure map. Because it’s more grammatically complex, this story may be best for intermediate to upper-intermediate readers.
If you like this story, there are many more available online from BookBox.
3. “Le Cauchemar”
If you’re feeling a little more confident in your reading abilities, the short story “Le Cauchemar” is the perfect way to test yourself! While this story does combine audio and text, it doesn’t require you to follow along line-by-line, so you can approach reading and listening however you like.
The entire text is in French, but key highlighted words and phrases reveal translations when you hover over them. The audio can also be paused, enabling you to take the story as slowly or quickly as you wish!
The story contains a lot of description, particularly regarding the appearance of its protagonist. “Le Cauchemar” is also a perfect resource for checking your comprehension of daily tasks and activities.
This story is also probably best for intermediate or upper-intermediate level readers.
If you like the story, you can find more like it on LanguageGuide.org.
4. “Le Pendentif”
Another audio/visual amalgamation, “Le Pendentif” is presented in a video with slow French and text clips, running through language points at a steady and understandable rate. While the story is presented entirely in French, new words and snippets of vocabulary are translated throughout the narrative, enabling you to pick up language points and vocab as you go along.
As “Le Pendentif” uses the first person pronoun, the story is also really useful for beginners who would like to practice the French present tense in the first person as well as approaches to personal description.
The narrator takes us through his daily life and thoughts, describing the world around him as he goes. The sheer number of new adjectives and nouns in this tale make it a wonderful resource for widening your vocabulary and getting to grips with day-to-day French life. While the story does go into some detail, the full version with audio can be purchased as an e-book.
Better yet, the author, Sylvie Lainé, has put together more stories of this kind for learners!
5. “Le Vilain Caneton”
Because you probably already know the tale of “The Ugly Duckling,” looking at the French version of the story can really help your reading skills and enable you to easily pick up new words in French. The story is presented in recorded and written French, which can be translated by selecting specific passages. Already knowing the story will make it much easier for you to anticipate the translations of French words, and will also help to build your confidence!
This story is a little longer, and will be best for intermediate to upper-intermediate readers, but can be dipped in and out of as you please and split into manageable chunks. The audio clips are relatively short, enabling you to repeat any sections and even have a go at reading back in French to practice your accent.
As it’s written in the third person, the story also makes getting familiar with various pronouns a real breeze. Seeing how verb endings change when both written and spoken will prove incredibly useful down the line, and will help verb conjugation become second nature to you.
If you’re interested in reading some other well-known children’s stories in French, there are more available on the same website, The French Experiment.
6. “Letters from My Windmill”
If you’re closer to an advanced level and looking to move your learning up a notch, “Letters from My Windmill” will help you to take that leap. While the narrative is read in slow French, some of the language rules used are more complex and will take a more confident learner to understand.
The story is presented in both English and French, using a slow French audio guide. Set in the past, the narrative is also helpful for practicing the early stages of more complex verb usages and agreements.
The channel, KDO Learning, provides similar videos of other stories.
Audio short stories are an incredibly rich learning tool, and can teach you a huge number of things about the French language and culture at the same time.
Combining audio recordings with visual text works both your listening and reading skills and teaches you the necessary differences between spoken and written French.
Thanks to these digital stories, you can begin to widen your French-language repertoire just by pressing play!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.