Why learn French via audio and not just books?
Most adults have a hard time learning French. You spend months and years learning from the usual books and methods and when you finally travel to Paris or another place in France, surprise! Suddenly, you try to speak French to the common French person in the street or in a shop and are shocked when you are not understood. The French sentences you used are correct, your French pronunciation seems right… what’s happening?
The difference between spoken French and written French
The problem with learning French from books is that “street French” is very different from the “academic French” you’ll find in books. Not only does the pronunciation change but the liaisons are different, the glidings are much more present and some of the French pronouns or articles seem to disappear all together! Your French language skills could be book perfect but you will have a hard time on the street. Of course, if your goal in learning French is just to read and analyse French Poetry or become an expert at all the verb tenses (conjugaison), then learning French from books will be sufficient. Most adults, however, learn French to be able to vacation in Francophone countries and be able to interact with people. In this case, you need to learn today’s French and, especially, hear “real” spoken French.
The benefits of learning today’s French through audio
A perfect example of the difference between spoken French today and in books is the phrase: “Il n’y a pas de quoi”. The average French person will pronounce it: “ya pad koa”. The seven syllables you learned on paper become four when spoken! No wonder you start doubting your French language skills. This is why French lessons based on hearing, not jut reading, all of what you are studying is key to bring your French pronunciation and listening skills up to par with native “street” French. Furthermore, listening to French audio lessons can be done anywhere, in your car, on the threadmill, while gardening.
Where do I find French audio lessons online?
There are several sites on the internet that will offer free French audio lessons. Large sites such as French.About.com or BBC.com will have a good selection of generic French lessons but one site in particular, FrenchToday.com, specializes in modern audio based French lessons for all levels. The experienced French teacher is a native Parisian and all the audio lessons are professionaly recorded with modern, street style French in mind. There are many free lessons with audio in all kinds of topics such as French grammar, French vocabulary as well as specific French culture lessons that not only will teach you how to speak French but also introduce you to the French and parisian culture.
In conclusion, learning French can be very rewarding and a great skill in your arsenal but you have to make sure that the French you learn can be used on your next trip to Paris, otherwise you will get discuraged very quickly with your French language endeavors.