If you’re learning French, making your way through the world of online resources can seem like a pretty daunting task.
Don’t panic! The majority of French learners feel overwhelmed when learning at some point.
At every stage of learning, it can be hard to balance all aspects of the French language.
After all, you’ve got to work on your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills—often trying to boost them all up at the same time. But trying to juggle too much can become confusing and even detrimental to your learning.
For many, the best way to master each language skill is to focus on it as an individual lesson and, once you’ve come to grips with it, incorporate it into your other language skills.
Listening in French is one of the most important early aspects for getting your comprehension spot on. You can’t have a conversation with listening! Oh, and all the most entertaining learning materials—like drama series, classic music and celebrity interviews—are inaccessible without having some basic learning skills.
Whether you’re a solo learner or need some supplementary listening resources for outside of class, there are dozens of incredible learning tools available at your very fingertips! But why is focusing on listening actually so important?
Why Focus on Listening?
Listening is an incredibly important part of the French language and if you want to take things seriously, it really pays to give it special attention.
- It’s a great primer for conversation practice. Conversing in French is the ultimate milestone for many French learners out there. You know, just imagine traveling to France and chatting with the locals—pretty great, right? Focusing on your listening skills is a great way to get accustomed to one half of key conversation skills. Talking like a native begins with the ability to hear and comprehend. The more you understand, the better you’ll be able to respond. Start early with listening, and all this will soon become second nature.
- It helps you master sentence structures. Unless you already speak a similar language, French grammar structures can be hard to get your head around. Sometimes there’s nothing better than hearing the real thing. Listening to the way that French is formed by native mouths can be truly helpful. Taking aural cues, it’s much easier to make unusual sentence structures feel completely natural and through listening in French, you can pick up an awful lot.
- It builds your confidence. The first step to becoming a natural French speaker is gaining the ability to understand what other people are saying. Going straight from learning basics to trying to string together full-on sentences for conversations can often prove demoralizing, and in the learning stages it pays to take things slowly. Listening to the French language is a really useful way to begin to understand what’s going on and pretty soon, you’ll be able to make conversations flow with no problem!
- It’s pronunciation practice. The French accent is notoriously tricky. Unless you’re a native, learning from birth, getting your mouth around some of the pronunciations can be incredibly frustrating. You might not even notice that you’re not pronouncing things right! Listening to natural speakers pronounce words is a wonderful way to build your ability to speak. By taking things slow and focusing on listening before speaking, you give your brain a chance to catch up and really take in new information.
Convinced? All right!
Now you might be wondering what kinds of things you should start listening to. On the Internet, there’s no end to the types of listening resources available—it’s almost overwhelming how much there is to choose from.
If you’re looking for a wide variety of high-quality French content to appeal to your ears, you’ll love what we have in store for you!
6 Fabulous French Websites for Focusing on Listening Skills
First, we’re going to take a look at resources for beginners. Then we’ll work our way up into progressively more challenging courses for intermediate and advanced students.
About really is a mecca for learners of all things.
French beginners should take particular note of the website’s various functions. With a page dedicated to every type of learning, there’s truly something for everyone, and if you’ve got a burning question to be answered, you should look no further than this site. The listening exercises are particularly useful for beginners, too.
Here are a few more noteworthy features you’ll find on the site:
- Beginner level dialogue recordings. Getting the right level of listening material when you’re just starting can be a tricky process. If you shoot too high, you risk destroying your confidence and enthusiasm for studying. This site contains a great archive of beginner-suitable dialogue recordings, and if you’re looking for an easy way into the French listening game it has you covered.
- Huge variety of beginner topics. If you’re looking for a specific topic with which to practice your listening, About is the perfect place to start. Armed with a huge array of different learning topics, you can really take your pick. From greetings to numbers and real-life situations, there are many scenarios from which to choose.
- Access to essential vocabulary and phrases. These beginner listening exercises are very useful for picking up new phrases and vocabulary to keep you covered when talking in French. The dialogue recordings each come with a set of essential words and sayings, meaning you can pick up a few new things as you listen in French!
2. Learn French
A YouTube channel created specifically with learners in mind, Learn French is a great place to see you through the next phase of your listening journey—the one where you venture out beyond the basics.
Packed full with every type of video you could ever want, the channel will equip you with everything you need to move on to the next level in your listening and comprehension progress.
- Interactive listening exercises. Dialogue recordings are all well and good, but they’ll only take you so far. Once you hit an upper-elementary level of learning, the best way to learn speaking is by doing it yourself. Learn French’s videos are all interactive, asking you to listen to recordings and answer questions about them out loud and in writing. Throughout the duration of each video, you really have to pay attention because it’s you who’s tested at the end!
- Quick-fire French lessons. Absorbing loads of new information can be exhausting, right? As a beginner, it’s often better to focus on specific, targeted lessons for a short amount of time. Each Learn French video is a few minutes long, teaching you all the essentials you should need to know about a given topic in the shortest time possible. You can the dip into your listening exercises, certain of the fact that you’re progressing with every completed lesson.
- Written explanations. Listening alone isn’t truly a sufficient way to improve in overall French. Whenever possible, you’ll want to practice multiple language skills together at once. For this reason, it can be useful to take notes during your listening lessons. The channel explains all of the listening exercises through written explanations of the videos, giving you the opportunity to take notes and return to previous lessons whenever you need a refresher.
- Lesson notes available on the website. If you’re looking for a little more information about the exercises, Learn French has everything you should need! The YouTube channel is accompanied by a very beginner-friendly website and is packed full of lesson notes, vocabulary lists and grammatical explanations.
Brought to you straight from Paris, TuneIn is a brilliant site for beginners in French. Filled with dozens of listening exercises, conversational topics and supplementary materials, the site is a great place to start, giving you all of the materials you could possibly need!
Here’s more of what you can expect to find here:
- Real-life listening exercises. Since everything is created by native speakers, you can rest assured that all of the listening exercises on the website are completely true to real-life French. As well as picking up native pronunciations, you can get used to speaking patterns and sentence structures in real French, an incredibly useful skill should you want to communicate in French-speaking countries.
- Spoken in slow French. Hearing a native speaker in conversation for the first time can be daunting, even to the most seasoned of learners. As a beginner, it’s essential that you focus on your confidence and listening to French at very slow speeds is a great way to do this. You’ll start catching all kinds of new words, phrases and grammar patterns in action, making you feel like you can handle listening to anything in French!
- Introduction to beginner grammar. Although it might not be your favorite part of learning, French grammar is an essential part of any lesson plan. This site will give you a pretty nice foundation in the key things you need to know about it.
Covering anything related to study time, from French slang to phonetics and vocab flashcards, ielanguages.com is a really useful site for all elementary to intermediate lessons. It offers a special French language tutorial (linked above) that gives learners a broad overview of the language.
The listening exercises are particularly strong, focusing on many different topics, learning points and idiomatic sayings. Just check out the tools you’ll be given!
- Written explanations along with audio. Listening exercises on their own are great learning tools for beginner learners, but if you’re looking for something a little more advanced, it helps to get a closer look at grammar and vocabulary along with audio examples. The French language tutorial includes lots of audio along with an e-book, making it really easy for you to take away each learning point and incorporate it into your French speaking on a daily basis.
- Informal and spoken French. Ielanguages.com offers an e-book on informal and spoken French that comes with about two hours of audio files and pages of additional learning material that focuses specifically on spontaneous, real-life French. (You can buy the two e-books and audio at a reduced price as a combo pack.)
If you’re an intermediate learner, it can be hard to find the time to dedicate to your lessons. After all, those more advanced lessons tend to suck up more of your time, if you let them.
Taking listening exercises with you on the go can be a great option for adding learning sessions to your hectic everyday life. Whether you’re by the computer, jogging with earbuds in or riding in the car, you can still catch up on your French!
- Topical French podcasts. Learn French by Podcast is a website and downloadable podcast that’s perfect for intermediate listeners. Based on current events, political opinions and French culture, all of the episodes are completely up to date and form an interesting dialogue on social opinion. Looking at topics more complex than most other sites, the podcast enables you to get exposure to complicated vocabulary and begin to learn how to form a debate.
- Accompanying lesson guides. When you’ve finished listening to the episodes, it can often be difficult to remember everything that you have taken in. On the website, there are written lesson guides which break down each recorded episode, listing all of the important information you should take away.
- Interactive listening exercises and quizzes. If you’re looking to take your learning even further, there are tons of informative and fun quizzes to take part in. For intermediate learners especially, listening exercises alone might not give you all of the information that you’ll need. With Learn French by Podcast, you can rest assured that you’re being exposed to all of the right vocabulary, grammar and dialogue, without scrimping on the written exercises!
If you’re looking for a listening-oriented website with a little extra, Love Learning Languages is a great option.
Split into YouTube lessons, interactive activities and the option to have one-on-one lessons, the website offers all intermediate learners the listening foundation they need, and a whole lot more.
- Intermediate language lessons. Split into various levels of lessons, the accompanying YouTube channel has everything that you should need as an intermediate level learner. By focusing on issues specific to intermediate French, Love Learning Languages provides a great basis for advancing further in French.
- Accompanying website with further activities. If you’re looking to extend your learning and stretch your limits, the website has you more than covered. Linking back to a site full of reading and writing activities, the listening episodes are well backed up, ensuring that as an intermediate learner, you get all that you’ll need from the lessons.
- Focus on French grammar. There’s a huge difference between intermediate and beginner level French. Through grammar-focused episodes, Love Learning Languages ensures that, as an intermediate learner, you’re exposed to all of the appropriate level lessons.
- Looks into complicated tenses. As you advance in French, things get a whole lot more complicated. Understanding and acquiring language structures requires a little more focus. By looking into the complexities in different language tenses, Love Learning Language takes the time to expose you to all of the different variations of verb usage.
If you’re learning French, there’s a whole world of listening exercises out there to help you to master listening techniques.
From interactive tasks to grammar and vocabulary, the Internet has you covered.
If you’re on the search to improve your conversational skills, why not make French listening a regular part of your routine?
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If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.