If you want to understand French when you hear native speakers using it, you need to start listening to the language ASAP.
Plus, it’s actually pretty easy to do.
Read on to see the 18 best French learning audio tools out there!
- Why Learn French with Audio?
- The Best French Audio Lessons and Courses
- Audio Dictionaries to Drill Down on French Sounds
- French Audiobooks and Audio-readings
- French Audio News
Why Learn French with Audio?
Did I mention that using audio to learn French is extremely convenient and accessible? As long as you have an internet connection, you can access audio courses whether you download them and use them on your computer or you buy them online and have them delivered to your house.
Did I mention that using audio to learn is simple and painless? Instead of slaving over grammar exercises and dictionaries, you can learn while you listen casually. Or, when you’re ready for some active listening practice, follow along with the comprehension exercises or supplemental materials that most of these audio lessons include.
Did I mention that using audio to learn French not only helps you understand better but it helps you to actually sound French? Well, it’s true. Listening to French conversation audio, or even just news reports or audiobooks, allows you to better develop your own accent and pronunciation. It also helps you to better replicate the flow of the French language.
Benefits abound! Let’s look at what our options are, from French audio courses designed for language learners to authentic French audio like radio shows.
The Best French Audio Lessons and Courses
DontSpeakFrench.com offers beginner courses for learners of French. If you have absolutely no knowledge of French, this is a perfect, stress-free place to start.
In addition to lessons on grammar and vocabulary, there are also a number of audio resources perfect for the beginner learner on the go. Under the “Listening Practice” tab, there are 10 recordings based off of grammar topics such as articles, adverbs and interrogative forms. Download these and audio learning will follow!
Once you have a base in French, there are 10 French dialogues spanning topics such as “At the Doctor,” “Taxi” and “Bus Station” to get you listening to French anywhere, anytime.
This program turns authentic French videos like movie clips and inspirational talks into language lessons that boost listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.
FluentU exposes you to French spoken at its natural speed (though you also have the option to slow it down) with native speaker pronunciation, which means you’ll hear French slang, various accents, language nuances and other aspects of the French language you’d only get from authentic media.
Each video clip has a downloadable transcript so you can follow along with the content better. Interactive captions allow you to understand new words in real-time without the need for dictionary, while also providing you with more in-context usage examples and audio pronunciation examples.
You can also add any word to a flashcard deck for later review, and take vocabulary quizzes that let you select, write or speak your answers for additional practice.
101 Languages French
101 Languages offers 100 free lessons in French, all with accompanying audio. Topics include preparing for a trip, the past tense and even subordinate clauses. While the website doesn’t include much in the way of explanations, these lessons go perfectly with another audio course to really help you learn vocabulary fast and easily. Transcripts also allow you to read a given sentence in French, then listen to its accompanying audio to fine-tune pronunciation.
Michel Thomas Method: Perfect French
Perfect French is a unique audio course in the sense that its creators are quite outspoken about one thing: Perfect French refuses to have learners memorize words. In fact, the Prefect French course boasts that no books or writing utensils are required. So what does that mean for you?
That means that learning French will be easier. Instead of having to memorize vocabulary lists and stock sentences, your brain will learn how to interact with the language and when the time is right, use the language properly. The methods used are the simple notions of repetition and building on information that has already been acquired.
After all, that’s how children learn language. Have you ever seen a toddler using a pen while acquiring words such as “cow” and “mom”? No, but it’s a cute image.
Rocket French is an audio course that uses 20 minute lessons that can be downloaded and used on your smartphone! Each lesson is a short conversation between two characters followed by a breakdown of vocabulary and grammar. The conversations range from topics such as greetings to travel to food and, once you’re done with the standard course, there’s also a Language and Culture course that further advances your competency in the French language.
Still not convinced? What if I told you that you could have the best of both worlds? With Rocket French, you get over 60 interactive audio lessons, but you also get full companion written grammar course to help you practice all those new grammatical constructions and words. Best of all, full transcripts from the lessons are available on the Rocket French website so you never miss a beat!
Learn in Your Car French
Do you ever feel like you’re wasting hours of valuable time every week sitting in your car stuck on the highway or sitting in the metro going to or from work? We all know (and detest) the feeling, but what if you could turn that commute time into French language learning time?
While meant for the car, you can download Learn in Your Car French online, put it on your music device or smartphone and learn French on your way to the office or on your way to the grocery store or on a long road trip across the country! While this course hasn’t yet abandoned the memorization technique, Learn in Your Car French is a great way to build vocabulary and, like all audio courses, it’s a good tool to master French pronunciation.
Living Language Complete French Course
If you’ve done any research about French language learning courses, you’ll know that the Living Language Complete French Course is a bestseller (as is much of their Living Language catalog). As such, it’s designed with conversation French in mind.
The complete course focuses on pronunciation, greetings, verb conjugation and grammar constructions, and though it’s meant to be started when learners are in the beginning stages of French learning, it’s a great course for intermediate learners who want to brush up on the language. The audio portion includes 9 CDs in the beginner course that include vocabulary, dialogues and audio exercises that you can use in the car, at home or wherever you study French. Furthermore, the Living Language course includes a 20,000-word dictionary for learners to use while they’re taking the course.
Ultimate French really is the ultimate package: How does eight hours of French audio, a 400-page textbook and loads of French immersion sound?
According to experts who created the course, Ultimate French is the equivalent of two full years of college French study. It offers lessons across all levels of French language learning: beginner, intermediate, advanced. While copies of this course in audio format may be a little harder to come by, it’s still a great way to learn French, and why wouldn’t you want to master two years of college without paying the tuition fees?
For those who already have something of a base in French, Lawless French is here for you. It’s a little more useful for those who want to practice listening comprehension, because the website is a directory of French listening practice audio for learners at all levels. Download, sync to your device and practice French listening whenever headphones are available!
If/when your hands are free, definitely be sure to check out the transcripts. Each audio recording has a corresponding French transcript for you to read along. Best of all, each recording also has exercises to test understanding. I suggest ditching the transcript altogether and going right from listening a couple times to the tests to really challenge yourself.
French Today offers audiobooks for beginner and intermediate learners that give you hours of audio you can listen to at different speeds, along with lessons that work towards specific goals. Their method is built around the idea that you should learn how French people actually talk as you’re learning the language.
“À Moi Paris” uses an actual story with characters to guide you through the earlier stages of French. Levels 1 and 2 of “À Moi Paris” are designed for French beginners. Levels 3 and 4 of the same series are intended for low intermediates and build on the knowledge from the previous levels. Level 5, for intermediate learners, focuses specifically on helping you learn the past and future tenses. Each level comes with a supporting “audio novel” and study guide.
The audio recorded for this French course can be adjusted to be at a normal or slow speed to aid in comprehension and maximize listening ease. Further, each lesson is centered around a realistic scenario, and explanations of grammar make it easy to understand the diverse sentence constructions in the recordings.
“French Verb Drills” gives you a whole 35 more hours of conjugation drills and enables you to learn “real street pronunciation” as you’re mastering conjugations.
Audio Dictionaries to Drill Down on French Sounds
Using a dictionary is a must, but French is a language of intricate spelling oddities and even more spelling exceptions. Need help pronouncing a word and its definition? Never fear—audio dictionaries are here!
Forvo is an online dictionary that features many languages, French included. You can use Forvo to look up any French word and hear exactly how it’s pronounced. For example, if you were to search the French word parler, you would see that it has the meaning of “to speak,” but you would also be able to listen to how the word is pronounced.
Better than that, though, each entry has multiple audio files for you to hear many speakers. This allows you to hear how words are pronounced by different genders, age groups and even people from different regions. The more, the merrier, right?
Further, there are also a number of sentences recorded for longer examples of spoken French that will pop up when you search for a word contained within them. This makes Forvo useful not just as a reference or for understanding spoken French but also for learning common French conversational phrases.
AudioFrench is another online French audio dictionary. Like Forvo, you can search up a word in French or English to get its translation and hear its pronunciation. Here, however, you can explore themed vocabulary lists and verb tables to hear how words and verb forms are pronounced.
Best of all, in my opinion, is that some words also have accompanying “Word Videos.” This can help speakers with the mouth formation of certain words, especially ones that feature the French “u” sound, as in sur (on). There are also a few dialogues and travel logs in audio format for further French practice. Download these and listen to French on the go!
French Audiobooks and Audio-readings
What’s better than reading a French book? Listening to a French book!
LanguageGuide.org offers 16 readings ranging from beginner to advanced, all with accompanying audio. Most are fiction stories by the best French writers, but there’s even a section on French jokes to tickle your funny bone. You can listen to the stories and read along with the accompanying transcripts, or just download a story or two to entertain you while you trek through your commute, workout or the laundry.
French Audio Gazette from the University of Toronto
Sorry, I was having a patriotic moment.
For those interested in listening to French audio from my native land, check out the French Audio Gazette.
Created by the University of Toronto, the French Audio Gazette has a number of readings with corresponding audio. Topics include articles from Canada, France and Africa as well as miscellaneous articles about topics such as Chinese astrology, elephants and ecological cities.
You say you like books, huh? Well, hold onto your armchair, fellow reader.
Litteratureaudio.com is a website that has an archive of almost 6,000 free audiobooks to download. Categories range from contemporary novels to fantasy novels to even books of poetry. For example, you can listen to “Le tour du monde en 80 jours” (“Around the World in 80 Days”) by Jules Verne.
Better yet, you can also download the accompanying text of books to read along. These audiobooks are perfect for listening in the car or in the train, and you’ll get a great story as well as perfect French pronunciation along the way!
French Audio News
Perhaps the most accessible way to listen to French is through French media. This includes TV, radio and even movies. Why not keep up with world events and keep up with French at the same time?
News in Slow French
News in Slow French is a real online news website for learners of French. Each day a new audio news report is uploaded, normally under 10 minutes long. The best part? The report has been recorded with learners in mind, so the French used is slow and clear and perfect for those who find that French is spoken too quickly for them to understand. This is perfect for those who want to start the journey of understanding French at its native speed.
In addition to daily uploads, each report also has an accompanying French transcript as well as in-text English translations for some words in the text. I suggest doing a listen with the transcript but then getting rid of the transcript during a second listen to see how much you can follow without it.
Ever wanted to move to a French-speaking country just so you could have ample access to its French-language learning resources? Well, now you can.
ListenLive.eu offers a list of radio stations all through Europe for many major languages, French included. You can listen to a station from France or other French-speaking nations such as Belgium and Switzerland. While there are no accompanying transcripts, radio stations vary in topic, ranging from Top 40 to news radio. This resource is recommended for those who have a strong base in French or maybe started with News in Slow French and are ready for the real thing.
Two Canadian resources in one list? You would think I was Canadian or something, eh?
Radio-Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (the CBC, as it’s known in Canada) are government-sponsored news agencies. As such, you can listen to the radio as well as watch TV and read articles in both French and English.
While there are some dialectal differences in French-Canadian speech, mostly in accent and in some common vocabulary, advanced learners of standard French should have no problem following along after a few listens.
At Radio-Canada, you can listen to all their radio stations (they change depending on the city you choose), and you can check out their horaire (schedule) to find a show that interests you. You can often find accompanying audio for articles available on Radio-Canada’s website, so you can listen and read news reports at the same time.
So, get out there and learn French with audio. Don’t say you heard it from me, but there are so many options and so many ways to master French with audio lessons.
Actually, do say you heard it from me. Get it? Heard? Okay, I’ll just show myself out now.