Want to have a smooth conversation in French—without misunderstandings?
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. Here are the top nine sites online where you can listen to French!
9 Incredibly Useful Sites with French Listening Exercises to Quickly Sharpen Your Ears
Education Scotland has ten listening exercises aimed at young, beginner level learners of French. Each of the ten 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.
FluentU is an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
You can browse videos by difficulty (beginner to advanced), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.).
Each video comes with interactive French subtitles—just click or tap for an in-context definition of any word, as well as a memorable picture and useful examples.
There are also professionally translated English subtitles, which can be toggled on and off at will.
For example, if you tap on the word “suit,” then you see the following:
FluentU also provides downloadable audio dialogues and transcripts that you can access later when you’re offline, so it’s perfect for listening practice. Furthermore, the complete program also includes tools to actively practice your vocabulary and grammar, like multimedia flashcards, fun quizzes and vocabulary lists built into every video.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that vocabulary to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending you videos and examples. You can start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
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 they 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.
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 is 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.
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 civilisation 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.
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.
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.