French Listening Tips

How to improve your French listening comprehension

This site includes dozens of French listening exercises for all levels, but sometimes it's difficult to figure out the best way to use them. Should you listen first, and then read the transcript, or is it ok to listen and read at the same time? In fact, both of these methods are fine; it's just a matter of deciding which one will help you the most. This article offers ideas on how to make the most of the listening comprehension exercises on this site as well as your own audio books and magazines.

Each of my listening exercise includes at minimum a sound file, transcript, and translation. Most also include a study guide and comprehension test. This combination of pages offers several possible scenarios.

1) Listen first

If you want to test your aural comprehension and/or you feel comfortable with your listening skills, listen to the sound file one or more times, to see how much you understand. Then read through the transcript and/or translation, either before or while listening to the sound file again, to fill in any gaps.

2) Read first

Students who don't feel up to the challenge of listening first might be better off doing just the opposite: read or skim the transcript first to get an idea of what it's about, and then listen to the sound file. You can listen while reading along with the transcript and/or translation, or just listen and then go back to the transcript, to see how much you were able to pick up.

3) Listen and read

This third option is the best for students with very weak listening skills. Open up the transcript or translation in a new window, and then start the sound file so that you can follow the script as you listen. This will help to make the connection between what you are hearing and what it means.

(This is similar to watching a French movie while reading the English subtitles.)

The "listen first" technique is the most challenging. If you feel confident in your listening skills or you'd like get an idea of how good they are, that method is best. Less advanced students, however, may find that listening first is too difficult and even frustrating. If your listening skills are weak, you will likely find it helpful to see the transcript and/or translation before or while listening. It doesn't matter which method you choose - your goal here is to improve your listening comprehension. Just keep listening and checking the transcript as many times as it takes until finally you can understand the sound file without looking at the transcript. If you do these kinds of exercises regularly, I guarantee that your listening comprehension will improve.

Improve your French
   * Improve your French listening comprehension
   * Improve your French pronunciation
   * Improve your French reading comprehension
   * Improve your French verb conjugations
   * Improve your French vocabulary