Listening is important when learning a language. This is the first step in identifying a word to give it meaning. If this does not happen, we are unable to sustain conversations with others. It is, thus, extremely important to master your listening skills when studying French, no matter the level you are at.

As with everything, you must have consistent practice and work towards training your ears in recognising the different French sounds. But the secret resides in picking the right audio according to your level of competence in the language, so that you do not get frustrated and abandon not only the exercise, but also the whole process of learning French.


If you are a beginner, needless is to say, that the audio you will choose must be where one person is talking in the clearest way possible; then you will be able to understand what is being said. Here, your intention should be in recognising words, intonations, sentence structure, and building your vocabulary pool. The downside is that this type of audio won’t prepare you for real life conversations as the speed and level of enunciation is totally different from the French you will encounter during your travels to the country. Bear in mind that it is a necessary right of passage. Nevertheless, even at this stage, you should include some modern French to get used to the way French natives use liaisons, and omission of certain sounds, as well as relaxed intonations when they use the language.


At an intermediate level, the recording should be more challenging, speed, vocabulary and length wise, but just right. You should be able to grasp around 80% of what is said. Here, you should not stop to identify each word you do not recognise but mainly trying at first to get the meaning of an entire sentence in context. Don’t get discouraged- at this point- by the lack of spectacular results. Be patient, and mostly persistent. You might also feel lost in a vast field of audio content out there. Don’t let this be a deterrent. Don’t allow the ‘shiny object syndrome’ to get hold of you neither. Choose your material carefully, and just a few. Watch the same video consistently until it has no more wisdom to offer and move on to the next.


You are now and advanced French learner, and the recordings at this stage should aim at training you to keep your focus for longer . This is when I recommend watching movies or series episodes with French subtitles. Podcast episodes will also do the trick if the transcript is available.

watch movies or series episodes with French subtitles.

How to use Listening Strategies in your Language Learning?

Here are some tips:

1-Choose the topic of the recording you want to listen to, according to your level.

2-Before you listen, think about this topic:

What do you already know about it?

What could be the text about?

Which words do you think they might use that you already know?

Which words do you think they might use that you want to look up in a dictionary?


3-While you’re listening:

Pay attention to the listening text.

Listen to two or three sentences at a time.

Repeat these sentences if you didn’t get the meaning first time.

Try to ignore the words you don’t understand.

Use your general knowledge and the text itself to find out the meaning.

Focus on key words and facts

Take notes. If you don’t understand a word write down what you hear. This will help you remember your weak points.

Pay attention to the way the speaker stresses some words. This might give you some clue about their meaning.

Try to think ahead: how might the story unfold? what might the speaker say? which word might they use?

4-After listening: read the transcript.

Check if you understood the main points.

Was your guess before listening right?

Have you had any problems while listening?

5-Listen again to the whole text paying more attention to difficult passages. Can you understand it all this time?

6- Repeat the process now with a written text (transcript) if you have one available.

7- memorise the new words, sentences, expressions that you didn’t recognise the first time.

8- repeat every sentence after the person or people talking (shadowing) to improve intonation, pronunciation and speaking skills.

Be positive. Don’t be disappointed if things don’t go always your way and you find it difficult to understand. Remember practice makes perfect, and consistent practice will help you get the results you are pursuing.

If you want to grab more tips to help you learn French Download the ‘Ultimate Guide To Overcoming The Fear Of Speaking French’