Want to have a smooth conversation in French—without misunderstandings?
Wish you could enjoy French radio and talk shows, rather than struggling to understand what’s going on?
Want to rock out to French hits, and know what the song’s about?
To understand spoken French, you’ve gotta listen.
French learners of all levels can agree that to an untrained ear, French is spoken so quickly and without any pauses that it sounds almost incomprehensible. Trust me: It’s daunting even for those who have been studying French for a long time.
However, listening to French is a crucial skill that must be developed in order to improve your French, so getting used to the speed and structure is the only way to make it less terrifying.
Lucky for you, the internet is a magical place, ripe with opportunities to listen to French more effectively. You can listen to French with music, with talk radio and even with podcasts.
In fact, as explained in this video on FluentU’s YouTube Channel, there are many podcasts available for beginner to advanced learners.
Podcasts can be aimed at learners themselves, offering new vocabulary and grammatical information in a lesson-style environment. Podcasts can even be aimed at native French speakers, and completely in French! These podcasts in particular are a great way to train your ear and hear the French that real French speakers use.
For more videos like this one to improve your French listening, check out FluentU’s YouTube Channel.
Without further ado, here are the top 15 sites online where you can listen to French!
15 Incredibly Useful Sites with French Listening Exercises to Quickly Sharpen Your Ears
Education Scotland has 10 listening exercises aimed at young, beginner-level learners of French. Each of the 10 exercises describes the everyday lives of a different French teenager, with topics ranging from school, geography and jobs to making a reservation at a restaurant.
Each recording also has a transcript so that learners can follow along and check their understanding.
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.
For those who don’t know, a dictée (dictation) is a French listening exercise in which you listen to a recording of spoken French and then write down exactly what you heard. Sounds easy, right?
Wrong. French is complicated in the sense that a lot of gender agreement between nouns and adjectives and verbal agreement happens, and most of the time, this agreement includes silent letters like extra an extra -e, –s and -ent. Sometimes, there are so many silent letters that a word can sound almost nothing like the way it’s spelled. So in this way, dictées are good for listening to French and practicing grammar.
Why am I telling you all of this? ToLearnFrench.com has over 360 dictées for you to practice listening to French. Click on one of them and practice writing out what you hear. Each also has an answer key for you to check what you heard (and make sure you made all those pesky agreements properly!)
Run by the French translator and teacher Laura K. Lawless, Lawless French offers many resources for conquering French grammar, speaking and listening.
Its listening exercises are for learners of all levels, with topics such as travel, geography and history.
For each level of proficiency, Lawless French offers tests so that learners can know what level they are at, and make appropriate study changes accordingly.
Translated to “Sky Brittany,” this website offers an array of exercises that allow learners to prepare for French exams. Even if you don’t have any formal tests scheduled, this website is still a fantastic tool for learners.
The exercises span reading comprehension, listening comprehension and writing, and they cover levels A1 (beginner) to B1 (intermediate) of the Common European Framework of Reference standard for language learning.
This website has been a personal favorite of mine not only for learning French, but also for the other Indo-European languages that have tutorials on ielanguages.com. Though there are tutorials for almost 15 languages, French is the primary focus and has the largest amount of resources, which include a French language tutorial and an e-book on informal and spoken French. Both of these products come with audio files that feature different samples of native French speech.
The e-book on informal French comes with exercises that use des clozes (fill in the blanks) along with the audio samples.
Le point du FLE
FLE is an acronym for Français langue étrangère (French as a foreign language), and this website is a go-to resource for learners of French as a foreign language.
The listening exercises are divided into three niveaux (levels), and there’s a mixture of video, podcasts and mp3s. What’s more, the exercises come with fill in the blanks, and some are even dictées. For the beginner French learners, there are a number of exercises that have a transcription, so you can follow along and better understand what is being said.
Le plaisir d’apprendre
In English, the name of this website translates to “the pleasure of learning,” and with a website like this one, it’s quite a pleasure to learn. This website makes it easy for French learners to find resources at each level. Though the website itself is in French, it has exercises for written comprehension, grammar and listening comprehension for A1 learners (beginners) to B2 learners (intermediate learners).
Here’s some helpful vocabulary for beginners to navigate the site:
- Sélection d’activités de compréhension orale means “selection of activities for oral comprehension,” but for all intents and purposes, this is where you’ll find the listening exercises.
- Sélection d’activités de compréhension écrite means “selection of activities for written comprehension.”
- Sélection d’activités de lexique means “selection of activities for vocabulary practice.”
- Sélection d’activités de grammaire means “selection of activities for grammar practice.”
- Sélection d’activités de civilization has exercises about the history, geography and culture of France and the French-speaking world.
- Sélection d’activités de phonétique has exercises for producing and distinguishing French sounds and practicing pronunciation.
All in all, this is a fantastic resource for all learners. I just hope they create more levels for advanced French learners too.
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
Like ielanguages.com, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center has over 40 languages to choose from. They pull their resources from articles, TV reports, radio broadcasts and more, and for French, there are almost 200 lessons to choose from.
Each lesson includes around five activities, and learners can select the level they need—whether you want reading or listening comprehension, and the topic you want the lesson to be on. Topics subjects include science, culture, technology and more.
Learn French by Podcast
Learn French by Podcast is a website that helps you to… well, learn French by podcast!
In fact, Learn French by Podcast is a full course for French learners based on listening to instructional podcasts. At its base, it’s a great way to listen to French for beginners because it revolves around a real French conversation regarding a certain topic, and then the conversation is broken down, explaining the vocabulary and grammar constructions used.
“Purchase credits” are used to take lessons, meaning that learners can listen to the podcasts for free but must pay to use the “lesson guides.” These guides include a transcript, explanations of vocabulary and grammar points as well as translation and comprehension exercises.
Best of all, there are three levels of podcast lessons: beginner, intermediate and advanced. This means you’ll be able to use these podcasts for any stage of your French-learning journey.
Maddou is a website that compiles some awesome French listening comprehension activities. These audio-based exercises are perfect for complete beginners of French.
Maddou’s lessons revolve around a particular topic such as the weather, verb tenses, shopping or eating at a restaurant. Simply choose a topic that appeals to you to get started. For example, in one such activity, you can practice verb tenses by listening to sentences and determining whether they’re in the present tense, the passé composé (compound past) or the imparfait (imperfect past tense).
Most of Maddou’s lessons are Flash-based. This means that learners listen to something and then choose correct answers or match audio questions and answers. This is a perfect website for practicing common words, expressions and constructions in French.
French-resources.org is a treasure trove of French listening exercises for learners. (While there’s a chance that the website might be under maintenance when you visit, its numerous activities are still available for access.)
French-resources.org is aimed at children and students of French, so it’s perfect for practicing listening comprehension in multiple contexts.
With a free sign up, each lesson includes an audio recording revolving around a topic. Next, students are asked to complete various exercises. Some require choosing a multiple choice answer or filling in a blank, and others require students to record answers or a short presentation. Lessons are sorted by beginner, intermediate or advanced levels.
Lessons include topics such as “In a French Town” and “L’école d’Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville” (The School of Ho Chi Minh City) and even grammar listening exercises for common verbs like être (to be).
RFI Savoirs (RFI Knowledge)
RFI Saviors is a website created by Radio France Internationale (Radio France International), a top French broadcaster. It’s a directory of nearly 1000 listening clips and corresponding exercises for learners of French at various levels.
Each lesson begins with an audio clip running one to 10 minutes in length. Multiple-choice exercises follow, testing the learner on their understanding of the clip as well as helping them acquire new vocabulary. Learners can also access a complete transcript of the audio clip in French. Lesson topics include “Résistance aux antibiotiques” (antibiotic resistance) and “les robots dans les hôpitaux” (robots in hospitals).
The lessons can be sorted by level from B1 (intermediate) to C2 (high advanced) as well as by topic. New lessons are added regularly as RFI continues to produce news content, so this is truly an evergreen resource for French listening comprehension.
Français Authentique (Authentic French)
Français Authentique is a YouTube channel turned French-language learning program that lets you learn authentic French through online immersion.
Primarily, this podcast releases new episodes on a regular weekly basis in easy-to-understand French for intermediate and advanced learners. Topics include French grammar, lifestyle and self-improvement as well as the regular marcher avec Johan (walk with Johan) podcast where the host, Johan, walks through his French town and talks about a certain topic.
Each podcast has corresponding transcripts available on the website, and learners can download mp3 or PDF files to assist with learning.
Created by TV5 Québec Canada, Francolab is aimed at students in Canada who have learned French for a number of years. As such, this resource is appropriate for intermediate and advanced learners who have a pretty good basis in French.
All lessons in Francolab are video-based. Students watch a video and read along with the corresponding transcript. They can then download the supplementary documentation under the apprenant (learner) tab. These documents include a multitude of exercises for listening comprehension as well as writing and speaking practice.
There’s also an answer key under the enseignant tab. Lesson topics include Canadian legends and myths such as “La Dame Blanche” (the lady in white), art and the climate.
Learners can also follow a course for high beginners and pre-intermediate learners. It’s called Tu te souviens ? (do you remember?) and it follows a young male student who moves to Montréal to learn French.
So plug in your headphones and get clicking! Deciphering the mumbo-jumbo that is quickly spoken French is easier than you fear.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.